Saturday October 26th, Johnstone’s Kitchen Gardens, a normally quiet family farm west of Sydney where the famous Quay restaurant grows much of its produce, welcomed a gathering of Australian and international food lovers for Lunch in the Field, an event that saw guests gather for a foraged feast cooked by chefs René Redzepi and Peter Gilmore.A great way to end The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
The special lunch made the idea of “paddock to plate” a reality with sixty guests assembled along a 20-metre wooden table filled with rustic kitchenware - ceramic jugs, copper boxes, preservation jars and zinc buckets - all coupled with a mixture of fresh produce picked directly from the fields surrounding the table. Even the winner of the “Practice the Art of Fine Food” Australian competition attended the exclusive event.
The six course “farm degustation” cooked by Redzepi and Gilmore was a glorious celebration of Australia’s best produce. Redzepi cooked grilled vegetables, berries and buttermilk, forever beets, lacto plums and potatoes, mole and kelp while Gilmore presented a raw smoked Blackmore wagyu, fresh dory roe, horseradish juice, soured cream, salty ice plant buds, pig jowl, organic green rice, seaweed, buckwheat, golden orach and a fresh dessert of milk & honey.
Speaking about the unique collaboration the two chefs said: "It's fantastic to have the opportunity... There is always an exchange of ideas and philosophies when working with chefs from other parts of the world."
Discussing the Quay restaurant's unique relationship with the farm, Gilmore said: "I make regular visits to the farm to discuss how things are going and to plan upcoming lines. We generally get out the seed packets and catalogues and look for interesting things to try. These collaborative meetings are a great opportunity to discuss the potential for new and innovative veggies."
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.