Crave Sydney Event: The Chef and the Gardener @ Chiswick

Kathryn and I took Wednesday off to mingle with the bold and the beautiful over in Woollahra at a Crave Sydney event.

Chiswick is the new restaurant owned by Matt Moran of Aria and Masterchef fame, and restaurateur Peter Sullivan.  The event proposed a tour of the restaurant garden and a 3 course lunch with matched wines.  Sounded pretty perfect to me.

It’s a beautiful, sunny Sydney day when we arrive.  Matt Moran introduces himself and welcomes us all to the restaurant.

He gave us some background – he originally wasn’t quite sure what sort of place he wanted.  He knew it wouldn’t be another fine dining-themed restaurant, so his partner suggested creating somewhere he himself would like to eat.  So that’s what they’ve done – good, simple food in a beautiful setting.

We started in the garden.

The garden came about because, due to noise restrictions, the space can’t be used for anything restaurant-y, so they created a kitchen garden under Pete Hatfield.

Pete, Head Gardener

We stood in the warmth, under date palms waving in the breeze, and spent an absorbing half-hour pottering around while he told us about his tomatoes, lettuces, the pests (white butterflies), herbs, artichokes and how he keeps it all healthy and thriving.

Space saving – herbs growing on the fence

The kitchen doesn’t dictate what’s grown – Pete works it out with them as they can have bizarre ideas of what’s possible.  Now that the garden’s up and running it takes him only a couple of hours 3 times a week to keep going. The chefs come out and help themselves to produce.

The restaurant menu is driven by what’s in season. The garden’s too small to supply all the kitchen’s requirements, but it essentially directs what gets onto the menu.

Next it was into the kitchen where we met Head Chef Simon Sandall.  He gave us a demo of how to peel a langoustine (use scissors) and I got to put the salad together while he made the dressing.

Simon’s pet peeve is people complaining about the scallops.  They’re expensive – $35 for 4 small ones.  But the reason they cost so much is that the restaurant’s ‘scallops bloke’ goes out diving 3 times a week to hand-collect them.  He sees at least 1 Great White every week.

Then it was time for lunch.  We all squeezed into one of the rooms, and despite being last in, we ended up on an excellent table and had a blast.

Kathryn and pudding

I had such a good time I wasn’t really paying attention to the food (or the wine)- which isn’t like me at all.

Starter:  kingfish, avocado, radish, nashi pear

Mains:  wood-roasted Moran family lamb, chick peas, mint; roasted Dory, little neck clams, curly kale, lemon;  green beans, confit eschallots & capers; rocket, parmesan and new season black grapes

Dessert:  Caramelia eclair with strawberry caviar and lemon tarte with coconut ice cream.

An excellent day:  great people, great food, great weather.

More please.

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