I recently made my way bright and early one Saturday morning to the Pyrmont Grower’s Market with Nick and Gummi Bear in tow. The invite to Sydney Morning Herald Pyrmont Grower’s Market Barbecue Madness was too hard to pass up. The sustainable meatfest set off the much awaited Crave festivities in Sydney for the month of October for the Sydney International Food Festival (SIFF).
The highlight of the Pyrmont Barbecue Madness for Crave International Food Festival in Sydney was David Tanis’s whole lambs on a spit, turning slowly and enticing everyone within a 1 kilometre radius. Made possible by Craig Macindoe of MuMu Grill, the lambs were certifiably delicious as I had the pleasure of sampling them at the last session for the day. Speaking of sessions, the Barbecue Madness was several half an hour tasting sessions comprising of long tables seating 10. The ticketed samplings were random and once seated it was a game of chance as to which amazing chef dished up your plate.
The chefs in question were David Tsirekas of Xanthi, Matt Kemp of The Montpellier Public House, Lauren Murdoch of Felix, Martin Boetz of Longrain, Joe Pavlovich of Glass Brasserie, Jowett Yu of Ms.G’s, Alex Herbert of Bird Cow Fish, Kylie Kwong of Billy Kwong, Darren Robertson of The Table Sessions and Alex Kearns of Glebe Point Diner. And of course David Tanis from California’s famous Chez Panisse.
Each of the 11 chefs was stationed at a barbecue and cooked six, 30-minute sessions beginning at 8.30am. I was paired up with Darren Robertson who was presenting a beautiful Wagyu flat iron, sour dough, bone marrow, kohlrabi and parsley stalks. Darren Robertson was the head chef at Tetsuya’s for 8 years before he launched his very own venture,The Table Sessions. The idea was to be a kitchen hand to the chef for half an hour in an informal, fun cooking session.
Once there, I quickly realised that there wasn’t anything to do because the chefs had everything under control. That calmed me down immensely as I had terrible visions of barbecue disasters leading up to the event. I pulled out my camera and set about documenting the event in pictures and talking to everyone who had a spare minute. That included Kylie Kwong & Alex Herbert, who were both so amazing to talk too.
I managed to sample Alex Herbert and Jowett Yu’s beautiful dishes before I was asked to answer a few questions about social media and food events for MLA on camera. ON CAMERA!! Return of the nerves!! The next half an hour was a blur as I gave a short interview and showed them my tweets and Facebook conversations on my iPhone. In fact it got so crazy, I didn’t get a chance to sample Darren’s wonderful dish! Bummer!
Then there was a flurry of activity as the lambs were taken off the spit, ready to be carved. Virtually everyone who was there descended down to the tables where the revered act was being performed. The lamb was photographed from every imaginable angle, boy oh boy does Sydney love its meat! And just like that David Tanis and Kylie Kwong started plating up the beautiful lamb. Nick, Gummi Bear and I sat down with a blogger or two and enjoyed the simple lamb which tasted great. We then had a walk around the markets and I bought some micro herbs, flavoured marshmallows and organic citrus peel before the stalls wrapped up for the day.
I had a lovely chat with Darren about his sustainable food philosophy and why he supports the whole sustainable movement. “That is the future!” he said simply and it made so much sense. He is a very nice guy, all smiles, friendly and very very passionate about his food. He talked about The Table Sessions, his brilliant concept for a pop up restaurant that is literally in sessions a few times a year for limited durations. People register their interest online and the sessions are carefully planned and prepared. That was one of the things the I could see so clearly, Darren’s passion for the food he prepared and presented. He put a lot of thought into bringing rare and fresh ingredients to the table and using lesser known cuts in a bid to maximise the eating experience yet stay green. Darren talked about how it was refreshing to see mass awareness regarding food sustainability. “It is not just a fad anymore.” he said when he talked about how talking to local providores is one of the most basic and simple things one can do towards facilitating their sustainable food education.
And that is the essence of the Pyrmont Grower’s Market and a gaggle of other fresh food markets around Sydney and the rest of Australia. You can have access to the person who has just that very morning pulled a carrot out of the ground, the one you have just paid for. They can tell you with a lot of pride about what goes into growing the produce they grow and nurturing the meat they provide. Believe it or not, it matters!
Note – I was invited to be a part of Pyrmont Barbecue Madness by Hausmann Communication. Thanks guys!