Home' Scoop : Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Contents 208 scoop SPRING 2010
t’s feeding time for the 300 or so
fooderati who have come together at
the Intercontinental Hotel in Adelaide’s
main ballroom for yet another Tasting
Australia media shindig.
Out in the lobby, Ben O’Donohue of Surfing
the Menu is chatting to Masterchef’s Poh, whose
public profile has grown so fast that, like Jamie and
Nigella, she no longer needs a surname.
Everywhere you look, food celebrities mingle
like mushrooms in a coq au vin. Old mates Maggie
Beer and Stephanie Alexander chat about organic
farming. Ian Parmenter shares a joke with Rob
Broadfield, Western Australia’s favourite restaurant
critic, and John Lethlean, outspoken co-editor and
restaurant critic for The Weekend Australian.
For one long weekend in May 2010, Adelaide
really is the centre of the known universe as Tasting
Australia stag es events at local markets, restaurants
and public open spaces.
The brainchild of Perth locals Ian Parmenter
and David Evans, this biennial international
showcase of food and wine beg an in 1997.
Ian and David had originally hoped to stage
the event in Perth but the g overnment of the day
thought otherwise. So the pair headed for Adelaide,
where the South Australian government embraced
the concept, recognising its value as a promotional
tool for national and local food and wine tourism.
Tasting Australia offers free cooking
demonstrations to watch, long lunches to linger
longer over and, inevitably, much focus on the
public’s seemingly indefatigable appetite for food.
For the humble food journo, it’s heady stuff.
Antonio Carluccio smiles at you in the lobby.
Simon Bryant, the Chef from ABC TV’s The Cook
and The Chef, passes you a cup of tea at breakfast.
It’s a freeloader’s heaven with free booze, free
food and free accommodation all thrown in, as well
as media side trips to wine-growing regions and
some of SA’s better-known tourist destinations.
Those who attend Tasting Australia can be
divided roughly into two camps. There are the
laughing, singing food entertainers, the court
jesters with ‘where’s-the-camera’ smiles.
And then there are the serious food writers. Folk
like Alan Saunders of Radio National’s The Comfort
Zone, author and ex-Sydney Morning Herald food critic
Matthew Evans and John Lethlean, all of whom
make a living out of having strong opinions.
As for the rest of us lesser lights, we just sit
back with yet another free glass of Adelaide Hills
riesling and watch the show unfold.
In search of something new, I seek out young
chef Cole Thomas, who earns a cr ust providing
culinary ser vices to the Royal Institution of
Australia’s Adelaide Science Exchange.
I catch up with him in the Exchange kitchen for
a sneak preview of the dishes he is planning for his
molecular gastronomy demonstration.
“The Science Exchange was established to bring
the findings of science to the broader community,”
explains Cole. “It’s also there to promote the public
awareness and understanding of science, and to act
as a think tank for scientific ideas.”
Appropriate, then, that when the Science
Exchanges holds a function, it offers food
commensurate with its ethos.
“Scientific cuisine is a concept that informs
every facet of our modern approach to food,”
says Cole. “My job is to embrace technology and
question everything in pursuit of the ultimate
flavour and dining experience.”
Cole says his premise is simple. “We don’t want
to take away the beauty of real food. We just want
to augment it with new techniques and sensations.”
In short, the dude is a foodie techno-nut, creating
avant-garde fare that uses science to go where few
men, or indeed women, have g one before.
Typical of Cole’s take on cuisine are his
parmesan wafers, fashioned from a paste of
pulverised parmesan cheese and a compound that
removes moisture. Thomas spreads this mixture
very thinly on greaseproof paper and lets it dry.
The result: deeply-flavoured wafers with the
slightly chalky texture of Pringles.
Jane Cornes goes to Adelaide for the Tasting Australia food
event – and to do a little scientific exploration on the side...
Cole Thomas takes science out
of the lab and into the kitchen.
BELOW An example of his work.
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