Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 President’s Medal – competition and night like no other

Last year’s President’s Medal was held at Four Seasons Sydney. This year the celebration of six champion producers from the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food shows moves to Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park in the historic Badgery Pavilion. Executive Chef Tim Browne is amazingly talented and, with his team, more than up to the task. He has relished the opportunity to develop a special menu and show the wider community what he can do with award winning produce.

Since its inception in 2006, the President’s Medal has been recognised as the pinnacle of producer awards. Over 5000 products are submitted across three shows, Champions are named; the best of the best judged by industry experts, ‘palates’, producers themselves and educators. The Chairs and Committees of Sydney Royal Wine, Cheese & Dairy and Fine Food shows then nominate two Champions each to vie for the President’s Medal. An in-depth judging process ensues which includes site visits and a triple bottom line evaluation.

The judging process is aptly managed by Simon Marnie, ABC 702 presenter and Scott Davenport, Chief Economist, NSW Department of Primary Industries in collaboration with celebrated chef Mark Best of Marque Restaurant in Sydney’s Surry Hills and Tony De Thomasis, Senior Business Manager, Woolworths. Mark Best has also designed the dessert course.

Not only is there world class food, but outstanding wines in a night hosted by 702 ABC Presenter, James Valentine, with roving reporter “Fast Ed” Halmagyi from Better Homes and Gardens. See behind-the-scenes videos from the finalists and be there to learn the outcome!

The medal will be presented on Thursday 7 July at a celebration dinner. Click here for more information or to book tickets. The menu will feature produce from the six producers vying for this prestigious award.

Cobram Estate, for their Fresh & Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Country Valley, for their Organic Milk
Fonterra Australia – Spreyton, for their Duck River Premium Butter
Jelm Pastoral Company, for their Jelm MSA Lamb - Grass Fed 20 - 23kg
Phillip Shaw Wines, for their The Idiot by Philip Shaw 2009
The Yalumba Wine Company, for their Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier (2009)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Blair Milan Fund – supporting Theatre/Media students at Charles Sturt University

I have previously posted about the death of my amazing son Blair whose joyful life was suddenly cut short by Acute Myeloid Leukaemia on 17 April. Our family has been overwhelmed with support, well wishes and messages of love.

My family and Blair’s close friends have teamed up with Blair’s old university, Charles Sturt University, to form The Blair Milan Fund and we are seeking help to ensure his legacy will live on for years to come.

Blair graduated as a Bachelor of Arts (Communication –Theatre/Media) at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst with Distinction in 2003 (as did his sister, Lucy, in 2005). As Blair brought passion to everything he did it only seemed right that his passion and enthusiasm for the arts be passed on to future Theatre/Media students. I also want his name to live on though his life was cut short.

The Blair Milan Fund comprises two components:

PART ONE: The Blair Milan Scholarship
A scholarship of $3000 will be awarded annually to one second year Theatre/Media student who exemplifies the generous artistic spirit and attitude of Blair. The student will be carefully selected by the academic staff of the Theatre/Media course with input from Blair’s family and peers. Selection will based on the student’s community involvement, academic and on stage performance as well as goals and motivation. The scholarship aims to encourage students studying Theatre/Media to demonstrate optimism, enthusiasm and a passion for their chosen field.

PART TWO: The Blair Milan Tour
One of the most significant moments in Blair’s early career was performing in the production Death’s Waiting Room. This production was originally produced by Theatre/Media students in their final year who were fortunate enough to secure funding to bring the work to Sydney. Funding from the Blair Milan Tour will give other works the same opportunity by providing financial support for the presentation of the work of final year Theatre/Media students before metropolitan and/or regional communities. An amount of $7,000 will be provided annually to assist the chosen production which will be selected by academic staff of the Theatre/ Media course with input from Blair’s peers and the Milan family. Profits realised from this presentation will be returned to the Blair Milan Touring Fund.

The objective is to raise over $100,000 so that the annual awards can be funded from the income of the Blair Milan Fund in perpetuity. My partner John Caldon and I have undertaken to match dollar for dollar (up to $50,000) the amounts received during the initial fund raising in commemoration of the role played by Blair Milan in our Naked Flame production of Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece which is currently being shown on SBS.
The Fund Raising
The Blair Milan Fund will sit within the Theatre/Media Foundation of the Charles Sturt University. There are no additional administration costs with the creation of this new Fund.
We are currently accepting donations by cheque, bank transfer or credit card. Click here to download a donation form. You will be sent a receipt in order to claim your tax deduction. With your help we will ensure Blair’s legacy continues forever through the work and creativity of new Australian artists.
Please give generously.
How you can help
Click here to download a donation form.
Click here to like on facebook.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wenonians’ Women of Spirit

I was invited as a guest speaker to the recent Wenonians Inc Women of Spirit breakfast at Rydges Hotel, North Sydney. As an old girl and mother of an old girl, I was delighted to speak to one hundred Wenonians and their friends about my career and the food/wine/travel/adventure television series I shot with my late son, Blair, Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece, now showing on SBS One at 8pm on Thursdays.  The fifth episode will air this Thursday, 23 June, the sixth on 30 June and the final on 7 July. If you missed the first few episodes you can download them here.

Various auctions were held, including a ticket to my next class at the Sydney Seafood School. The winning bidder was Marcelle Perko, who I look forward to seeing on 10 August. It was gratifying that, in their 125th year, over $4,000 was raised for Wenona education scholarships. 
Marcelle Perko with me and Trish O’Brien, Executive Director, Wenona Foundation

In honour of Blair’s memory, guests were asked to support the Leukaemia Foundation. A total of $750 was donated with more expected to follow. It was very gratifying to be able to help this organisation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The real ragu

I’ve blogged before about my fondness for comfort food and slow cooking. I think ragu is the ultimate winter recipe with the ultimate combination of comfort and slow cooking.

Like many traditional Italian recipes, there are seemingly endless ragu variations. My favourite version uses a mix of pork and veal mince (for flavor and sweetness), white wine, not too much tomato and a drop of milk at the end – definitely not your average spaghetti bolognaise!

The secret is long, slow cooking. I also love to add chicken livers with the meat but not everyone likes offal. I find short pasta works best with this sauce, but you could use whatever you have to hand.

As this is so good, my tip is to double the recipe and freeze half for later. As well as serving the ragu with pasta, use it to stuff cannelloni shells or as a lasagne filling.

Here is a link to the recipe on my main site.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece media launch at Sydney Studio Kitchen

You may know that the first episode of the television series I shot with my late son, Blair, in Greece aired at 8pm last Thursday night on SBS One. In the week prior, we hosted a dinner at Sydney Studio Kitchen for twenty journalists to launch the series.

For the night our Sydney Studio Kitchen was transformed from a television studio into a glamorous event space, complete with gorgeous little jars of olive branches.
We even decorated the napkins with olive branches and Greek evil eyes (which actually are lucky charms).
The menu was Greek (of course!), some courses from the show, others inspired by it and included: 
Haloumi, about to be grilled until golden brown, and served with a spritz of lemon
Baby prawns which were deep fried until crisp  
Tiny white fish got the same treatment 
 I helped out by preparing the mezethes in the set kitchen 
My fabulous mates Julie Ballard and her son Andrew (pictured) prepared the entree, main course and dessert. We began with an easy Mediterranean fish soup, much easier than the traditional kakavia. My good friend, Greek-born chef Janni Kyritsis proudly told me it was the precursor to the popular French bouillabaisse coming from the Phoenicians, an Ancient Greek people who founded Marseille in 600 BC.

For mains, we feasted on goat two ways – grilled long rib cutlets with rigani and stewed shoulder and leg with eggplant and tomatoes (from episode 2 so don’t miss it!), lemon potatoes, horta (wild greens) and my favourite marouli salad – a fresh mix of cos lettuce and dill. The mains were served ‘family-style’ as is traditional in Greece, in the middle of the table.

Dessert was Greek rice pudding, known as Rizogalo, which we served drizzled with fragrant Greek honey and poached quinces.
Executive Producer, John Caldon with Erik Dwyer, Executive Producer Food & Leisure, SBS 
Yasmin Newman, MasterChef Magazine, Jessica Brook, delicious magazine and Deb McDiarmid, Sydney Studio Kitchen
As well as Greek wine, we also drank ouzo
Feedback on the first episode has been fantastic. The second episode airs at 8pm on Thursday 2 June on SBS One.