There is absolutely no need for an introduction when a reality TV cooking show MasterChef plans to open a pop up restaurant right on the green grass of First Fleet Park at The Rocks. I just loved the concept of dining in at a reality TV show.
So I managed to tag along with my beautiful friend Buttercup from Stomach Crusaders and her two friends Mr. Shine and Miss Cutie. Buttercup had pre-booked this entire evening before tickets started even selling and had one mission to accomplish, finding Adam Liaw. A little bit obsessed to see her idol Adam Liaw who was the winner of the second series of MasterChef Australia in 2010.
We approached the event for the last dinner session at 8:30pm in a tent and the ladies at the reception informed us to come back after fifteen minutes as the tables were being set up and invited us to go upstairs to the bar to chill.
As we got closer to the stairs on our right and the open kitchen on our left were all the chefs like Former Head Chef of the Two-Hatted Bécasse restaurant and chef behind the scenes on-set at MasterChef preparing the finest meals for the evening. When we were just about to climb the stairs I watched Buttercup race towards the open kitchen in her high heels and guess who was she talking to? Cassie Delves from MasterChef Australia: The Professionals.
Seeing Cassie Delves right in front of me was a dream come true. Completely star struck my brain cells decided to be switch into an introvert and take photos while she and Buttercup were having an intense conversation about her journey in MasterChef. Whilst platting up MasterChef Garden entree.
Experiencing the MasterChef event in a large white tent on First Fleet Park.
Made our way to the crowded bar upstairs were the friendly bar tenders showed off a few tricks or two.
Fast forward and we were seating right opposite the bar which was the other side of the tent. Service was a worry at the beginning as I noticed a few cutleries weren’t as spotless. I asked for the waiter to change my glass cup since there were smudged prints and dust all around it. He looked at me oddly and bluntly said “nothing wrong, just scratches” then attentively changed a new glass which had the same problem. Besides service, we were lucky to be seated upstairs were it was less crowded and was able to momentary look at our foods being prepared by Monty Koludrovic and his loyal team.
Whilst the background music was ambient and soothing I managed to spot Adam Liaw as he was having a conversation with other guest who attended the dining. And yes I couldn’t help myself being a stalker. Hehe.
In between our bread arriving, surprise guest Hamish Ingham who is a chef and owner of Bar H also consulting executive chef for Four Seasons Hotel on behalf of a new restaurant The Woods was standing right in front of me, facing our table. Completely mind blank, I left an impression for Hamish of being weird by grinning and oddly waving. I was too focused staring at Hamish that I forgot to take a happy snap with him. This was one hell of a surprise!
Not long after the Brasserie Bread with Pepe Saya butter arrived in a wooden straw basket preparing for the dishes ahead of us. Amazed to taste Brasserie bread warm and crusty on the outside. This is how bread must at all times be served in warm temperature like if it was fresh out of the oven. And allow the butter to melt as I spread across it. The bread and butter were equally delicious.
As a result of taking photos of bread and butter using an SLR, Mr. Shine decided to take a photo of me and Buttercup being Asian and uploading it onto Instagram to tell the whole world it’s just bread guys… it’s just bread! In my defense it’s not just bread it’s Brasserie Bread. Teehee He managed to slip this photo into a conversation with Adam and Adam agreed it’s an Asian thing to do and asked if he could be tagged. Hilarious!
Photo credit to Mr. Shine
First up the MasterChef Garden, an incredible inspired garden centerpiece that was edible to eat. Fascinated at the lifelike and edible dish I wanted to dig in with my hands the soil made of finely chopped breadcrumbs and olives with a hint of salt. Scooping beneath the crumbly soil hid a layer of creamy dip that was refreshingly tangy as the visible planted vegetable roots were crisp. Just love the idea of edible garden in a pot!
After a refreshing experience of the pot plant the Organic Smoky Bay Oysters with Thai dressing appeared at our table. Whilst the waiter was serving the dish, I heard a silent scream across the table and it was Mr. Shine curiously observing the white patch underneath the oyster shell. Little did he know it was sea salt. It was pleasing to taste the oysters were naturally creamy and adding the crunch of fried onions with the savory Thai dressing.
Right beside me, Buttercup had the Master Stock poached chicken, eggplant cream, white radish, soy & ginger – Torn up pieces of tender chicken, blending in with shredded white radish being crisp and creamy mash eggplant. The flavours and texture of this dish were delicate but flavoursome.
Another round of Brasserie Bread with Pepe Saya butter but this time we had olive bread rolls. I personally don’t find olives attractive however these bread rolls were delicious. The olives weren’t overpowering that made it acceptable for me to eat it.
Right before our third meals arrived Adam Liaw walked right towards our table, grabbed a chair nearby and sat right next to me. Body paralysed! I tried to act cool in front of him as I was hiding my star struck face … 😛
It was informative to know a lot about Adam’s life experience after he won MasterChef Australia in 2010. He mentioned his time in Japan filming with SBS One “Destination Flavour Japan” and writing his new book “Asian After Work”. With a down to earth character I can see why he is much loved across Australia and off course Buttercup.
Finally the Roasted Northern Rivers pork loin, crackling, apple, caraway & bacon jus that turned out to be two enormous pieces of pork that was very tender and juicy. The crackle – crackling and full of flavours however it was disappointing the meat didn’t melt in my mouth as the MasterChef Dining website states “melt-in-the-mouth roast”. On the other hand the table agreed it was heavenly delicious and fulfilling.
For the Baked Tasmanian Petuna Atlantic salmon, Snowy River sea herbs, scallop, zucchini & tomato resembling a Aussie garden, in my opinion. An impossible dish for me to demolish because of its presentation, absolutely stunning! The salmon was cooked to perfection. As I was eating I tried to observe carefully the hidden scallop. To my surprise it was hidden inside the zucchini flower. Very clever idea of injecting custard and chunks of scallop into the flower. The custard- smooth and silky and the scallop fresh to eat.
Just when our minds were set to save stomach space for desserts, the waiter kindly offered us Complimentary Lipton Tea of our choice to go with the Vegemite Caramel Chocolate Cup to finish. Did I read wrong? Vegemite…caramel…chocolate? Together? Personally the name of the dish doesn’t sound appealing. At first I wasn’t at all convinced this dish would pass my taste buds as I am aware Vegemite can be a love or hate food spread. To my surprise…I loved it! Strangely with the dark milky chocolate it tasted similar to salted caramel but with vegemite. I think I am convinced to eat vegemite more often.
Buttercup’s “Strawberries & Cream” – whipped orange blossom crème fraiche & olive oil biscuits – A lovely combination of sweet fruity aroma of strawberries. Piped clouds of whipped orange blossom crème fraiche tasted light and fluffy. Sprinkles of crispy crunchy rice bubbles kept it exciting. In the end the olive oil biscuit was a thumbs up for me as it added a different texture and flavour to this dish. The biscuit had its own outcome for example the biscuit would automatically turn into breadcrumbs as soon as you swallow it then slowly melt into your mouth leaving a buttery aftertaste.
It was a celebration on a plate when the Zokoko black forest cadeau with cherry Gelato Messina showed up at our table. I am a huge fan of Nick Palumbo’s Gelato Messina masterpiece as it brings gelato to life on a plate or on a waffle cone. Mesmerised by the splash of chocolate and cherry gelato with tiny chocolate balls garnished all around the glossy sphere with halved cherry pieces and chocolate crumbles.
Slowly deconstructing the glossy sphere with my knife and fork raised questions to what was in the centre? It didn’t melt so not ice-cream nor gelato rather a ganache and creamy chocolate mousse. A mix between the mousse and ganache- rich and fluffy that melts in your mouth as you swallow. Together with the cherry gelato added a fruity fragrance creating a sweet and slightly sour aftertaste, sending shivering delights to my stomach. Beyond doubt a lip-smacking dessert!
Right when our desserts cleanly demolished, Adam appeared at our table for the second time. Thrilled to speak to him longer, not that I even talked but a celebrity sitting next to me was already enough. Watching Buttercup excitingly asked questions about Adam’s life and summarising her point of view of almost every episode made Adam say “I think I need a restraining order”. I couldn’t agree more… 😛
It was an unforgettable evening as I managed to meet Hamish Ingham from Bar H, eat Cassie Delves prepared dish- MasterChef Garden and talk to Adam Liaw during our dining experience at MasterChef Dining and Bar.
Having four course meal for $115 per person is reasonably standard although I personally don’t believe it to be a fine dining experience in terms of service-waiter didn’t explain what was in our dishes. It would of been convenient if they left one menu on the table. Overall I found this experience to be enjoyable.
For all the MasterChef fans, you still have a chance to dine in at the Sydney pop up restaurant till 8 September 2013, otherwise as an alternative or an excuse for a holiday fly down to Melbourne from 1 -20 October 2013 to let your tastebuds experience MasterChef meals.
Photo taken at Circular Quay Station
Photos by Vanny Tang