Australian Chefs

Last October I went to Adelaide for Tasting Australia - which is an international Festival of Food and Wine, an initiative of the South
Australian Government.  'Hot and Happening Down Under' was the theme of The Festival which was held in Adelaide from 5-14 October featured the skills of more than 150 celebrated chefs, authors, food and wine
journalists and critics, television cooks as well as the nation's top food and beverage producers and up and coming chefs and apprentices.  It
One of the most important events in Tasting Australia is the Lifestyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition allowing chefs and apprentices from various regions all over Australia to demonstrate their culinary skills in a cook-off (three courses for four people). The Gold Award for the Best Region was a visit to Ballymaloe Cookery School with the travel sponsored by Quantas the main sponsor of the festival. I was invited to attend the Festival and be a judge in the competition and take part in some of the other activities.
Last week the winning team arrived in Cork Airport and made their way to Ballymaloe Cookery School – the team were Darren Ho,(Team Leader) Brian Means and Julie van den Bergh, a fourth member of the team Steve Brampton was unable to travel. The winning Team hail from Hunter Valley a noted wine region, and part of the competition was pairing their wine and food They had a busy few days with us –they visited the Farmers Market in Midleton, the Jameson Heritage Centre, walked the cliffs in Ballycotton with me and went foraging on Ballyandreen strand.  They visited the English Market in Cork and cooked themselves a Cork supper with the goodies they brought home.  They joined in on our Pub Grub Course and enjoyed mingling with all our other students.  On a day trip to West Cork they visited the Fergusons at Gubbeen to see the famous Gubbeen farmhouse cheese made by Giana and taste Fingal Ferguson’s smoked bacon.
Dinner at Ballymaloe House and Grapefruit Moon in Ballycotton were among the highlights of the visit and we tasted some of the delicious Hunter Valley wine and honey. London and France were the next stops on their itinerary.
Julie van den Bergh has her own Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley and she has shared one of her signature dishes with us.

Pan Fried Atlantic Salmon fillet on sweet corn cakes with an avocado and Spanish onion salsa


Julie says she is not allowed remove this dish from the menu.

From Julie van den Bergh of Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley, Australia
Serves 4

2 cobs of corn, stripped
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
2 tablesp. coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablesp. parsley, chopped
1 teasp. minced garlic
2 tablesp. sweet chilli sauce
2 eggs, whisked
200 ml cream
100 g plain flour

Combine ingredients and cook off in small cakes on frying pan. Use
oiled rings for consistent size and leave on. Cakes freeze well.



1 small Spanish onion, diced finely
6 large ripe Roma tomatoes, diced finely (seeds removed)
1 dessertsp. Sicilian salted capers, rinsed well.
1 dessertsp. large capers, rinsed well
1 dessertsp. chopped cranberries
juice of half lemon
1 tablesp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and diced in half cm cubes

Ideally combine all the ingredients except the avocado at least 2 days
prior to use to allow flavours to blend. Add chopped avocado just
prior to service.

Wasabi Mayo

1 teasp. minced garlic
1 teasp. Dijon mustard
2½ teasp. Wasabi powder
2 egg yolks
1 teasp. lemon juice
½ teasp. caster sugar
olive oil – approx. 300 ml
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor, pulsing to combine.
With motor running, slowly add olive oil to desired consistency. (Thin
with warm water if required.) Taste and season.

Lemon Dressing

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup mirin
2 teasp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk and adjust to taste.

To assemble the dish you also require 1 bunch of watercress, washed and
picked, as well as four pieces of salmon fillet, lightly dusted with
seasoned flour.
Heat a large frying pan (with a metal handle) and oil lightly. Place
the fish, flesh side down, sear and turn and put into a preheated
moderate oven.
Place corncakes on a greased tray (2 per person) and place in oven to
Dress watercress in a little of the lemon dressing and place a mound in
the centre of each plate. Top with 2 corncakes and smear a teaspoon or
so of wasabi mayo over the warm cakes. Place cooked salmon on top, then
garnish with spoonfuls of salsa.

Perfect with a glass of Aussie Semillon!

Some more Australian ideas –


Banana, Pineapple & Walnut Cake


(makes four loaves)

6 cups Plain Flour
4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Bi-carbonate of Soda (Breadsoda)
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 cups castor sugar
3 cups chopped walnuts
4 cups mashed banana
4 cups crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups oil
8 eggs, lightly beaten

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
Combine sugar, oil, eggs & mix
Add banana, pineapple & dry ingredients to mixture
Bake in moderate oven until crisp on top.

Whole-Orange Cake

Use medium seedless navel oranges

1 orange
125 g butter
½ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup buttermilk

Orange Butter Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup orange juice
60g butter

Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf tin
Squeeze the juice from the orange, reserve the juice for syrup. Process
or blend the remaining skin and pulp finely.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixture until light &
fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, beat until combined. Transfer
mixture to large bowl, stir in half the sifted flour and soda with half
the buttermilk, then stir in remaining dry ingredients, buttermilk and
orange pulp.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 45
Stand cake 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack,
Pour hot syrup evenly over hot cake.

Orange butter syrup Combine sugar, orange juice and butter in saucepan,
stir constantly over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved and
butter melted, bring to boil, remove syrup from heat.
Keeping time 3 days.

Almond Bread

3 egg whites

½ cup castor sugar
1 cup plain flour
125 g un-blanched almonds

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually beat in castor sugar,
beating well after each addition until all sugar is dissolved. Fold in
sifted flour, whole un-blanched almonds. Spread into greased 25cm x 8cm
bar tin. Bake in a moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes or until just firm to
touch. Turn out of tin to cool. When cold, wrap in aluminum foil, put
aside for one or two days. Using a very sharp knife, cut bread into
wafer-thin slices. Put slices onto oven trays, bake in slow oven 45
minutes or until dry and crisp.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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