Monday, February 4, 2013

Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre hosts 25th Australia Day Council’s Australia Day Lunch

Summer berry chocolate meringue with cinnamon-spiced hunter valley mascarpone and peach buttermilk ice cream
Which venue showcases one of most glorious views in Sydney?
And boasts a world-class innovative food and beverage team?
With facilities to cater for 1,400 guests at Australia’s largest corporate lunch?

The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Australia Day Lunch both celebrated a milestone last  Friday.  It was the 25th Australia Day Lunch to be held at the Centre and one of the first major events to herald the Centre’s 25th anniversary year.

In my capacity as Australia Day Ambassador I’ve attended this lunch many times. Even as an ex-caterer who has fed large numbers myself, it never fails to blow me away.  The standard and quality of food and wine served is impressive and I have heard from other Australia Day ambassadors  that this year’s lunch was just as special, if not the best ever, given the milestone.  Unfortunately, due to filming commitments and my ambassadorial posting in Nundle, I was unable to attend.

Planning for this lunch begins months before.  Menus are developed, tested and re-tested to showcase the best of New South Wales produce, much of it award winning.  Ordering food requires a great deal of forward thinking.  Executive Chef Uwe Habermehl ordered 300kg of lamb for the  main course – 375 9-bone racks for the main course – from 2012 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medallist, Milly Hill Lamb.  He even made his own elderflower wine for the marinade.

Four days before the event the fun really starts!  The halls are set up and installation of the elaborate theming, staging and rigging begins.  Six satellite kitchens are built in adjoining halls too.

An astonishing 10,000 pieces of cutlery, 7,500 items of glassware and 5,000 pieces of crockery are polished.
On the day over 130 wait staff are briefed to serve and clear the four course lunch which is plated by 54 chefs and served in six waves of 250 plates at a time with military-like precision.  

Uwe’s menu embraced the food we traditionally eat on Australia Day, but with many modern twists and turns!
  • Macadamia nut and chilli marshmallow with avocado smoothie was served on arrival, matched with Tyrrell’s Traditional Method Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2009.  Country Valley Luscious Yoghurt and Pepe Saya Buttermilk were whizzed with the avocado and served in a brandy balloon with the savoury marshmallow on the side.
  • The entrée of Sugar-cured salmon and kingfish terrine with carid prawn rémoulade and asparagus salad was matched with Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Stevens Semillon 2008.  Uwe sourced 28,000 tiny carid prawns from Western Australia which were painstakingly peeled by his team.
  • The main course featured two elements – lamb and pie!  Duck confit and quail breast pie with spicy mango relish and elderberry wine-cured rack of Milly Hill lamb with horseradish galette and green pea purée.  Tyrrell’s Lunatiq Heathcote Shiraz 2010 was the wine match.
  • Quintessential pavlova was Uwe’s inspiration for his dessert of Summer berry chocolate meringue with cinnamon-spiced hunter valley mascarpone and peach buttermilk ice cream.
Amazing to serve so many people, with each person being treated with all the care of a fine dining restaurant.

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