IT WAS a packed house at the Illawarra TAFE Bega campus Barracks kitchen on Tuesday as one of Australia’s top chefs presented a masterclass.
Neil Abrahams, president of the Australian Culinary Federation and winner of last year’s Food Services Australia Chef of the Year, had the audience of local chefs and apprentices glued to their seats – when they weren’t crowding around him trying out his delicious desserts.
Mr Abrahams was the guest speaker at Monday night’s Chefs of the Sapphire Coast Degustation Dinner held at Bega TAFE, but was still brimming with energy as he explained sous vide, competition presentation, plating techniques and the importance of matching wine with food in the two hour class.
However, it was his “table dessert” that drew the most attention.
“It isn’t like the old days when the chef was in the kitchen and the head waiter was out there, the centre of the attention,” he said.
“These days, people want to meet the chef and talk about the food so it’s our job to create a little bit of theatre.
“You also get a feeling for what your customers enjoy.
“With this in mind I like to build this dessert at the table, it’s a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, and it certainly does inspire the idea with the customer that they are really having an experience.”
And build it he did, complete with some liquid nitrogen to quick-freeze the meringue.
The result drew applause from the class and a rush to try his creation – which got the thumbs up from everyone in the room.
Mr Abrahams said he hoped to be able to bring more of these types of masterclasses to the region.
“Students here are talented and enthusiastic, but the tyranny of distance means they often cannot get exposure to the type of things those in larger cities do,” he said.
“But it’s a fantastic region with such great produce so students should really utilise that.”