The goal? To discover exciting new dishes to inspire and intrigue, learn traditional cooking techniques, and immerse themselves in the flavours and culture of Thailand; a place close to the heart of the Apples + Pears restaurants. The next step? Bring new culinary discoveries back to the restaurants to add fresh and original dishes and flavours to the dining experiences available in Melbourne.
An incredible amount of food was consumed on this “tough” educational adventure. The unanimous favourite dish was served at Nahm restaurant. A simple yet striking smoked beef with grilled galangal and chilli sauce. Executive Chef, John McLeay states, “We will definitely be adding smoked beef to the menu in various forms across the restaurants. I can’t wait to introduce our guests to this delicious dish. The simplicity yet integrity of the flavours is pretty special”.
Another favourite was the Phunim Phat Pong Kari or crab stir-fried with Chinese celery, egg and curry powder, which was devoured at the famous Cabbages & Condoms. The plan is to try soft shell crab for a revised version at Burma Lane.
The dishes that intrigued? Papaya salad with smashed crab, Tom Yum soup with frog, and chicken heart satay skewers cooked by the street vendors while you wait. There may be a little bit of convincing before frog and chicken heart are to be found on the menu, but the inspiration still remains.
A Thai cooking class run by a true Thai traditionalist, passionate about the old Thai ways, was a great way to learn about techniques that had been handed down across generations. Although a few thought that they “knew it all”, all were humbled to use traditional cooking and food preparation tools that had been handed down from chef to chef across four generations. Traditional methods of making coconut cream by hand from raw coconuts, hand-smashing curry paste, soaking and roasting whole chillies, to producing a pungent prawn oil that makes for a magical addition to soup. Little snippets of knowledge that have been passed down from generation to generation are now in the hands of the chefs, to be enjoyed by guests.
A bike riding tour took the chefs through the back streets and alleyways of Bangkok. A cultural adventure that opened their eyes to how the locals live, their daily routines and the wealth of food stalls and street vendors serving an inspiring selection of simple yet delicious dishes. An exploration of scents, aromas and ideas now ready to be incorporated into the restaurant menus.
The outcome? Three Melbourne restaurants invigorated with fresh ideas and dishes from traditional Thai to cutting edge experimental fusion. A chefs travels around Bangkok brought back to Melbourne and delivered fresh to guests.
Keep an eye out for all of the tasty dishes to come!
Check out A Chef’s Travels on a Plate at Burma Lane as a part of Good Food Month on November 3rd and sample the dishes yourself!