Saturday, May 29, 2010

Palate of Port

Spencer Patrick - Harrison's Restaurant Port Douglas

29th May 2010

What has Raymond Blanc, Nico Landenis and Marco Pierre White got in common? Answer: Michelin stars and Port Douglas Restaurant chef/owner Spencer Patrick. Yes, English chef Spencer has worked for all three chefs at their Michelin Star awarded restaurants in the United Kingdom.

At Marco Pierre White’s Cafe Royal Grill Room in Piccadilly, Spencer was head chef at this prestigious establishment where a budding Australian chef named Curtis Stone came to work for him in 1998. In the same year Spencer was ranked in "The London Good Food Guide" as 3rd best chef in London.

Working in Melbourne Spencer met his wife Reina and later they travelled to Port Douglas to set up Harrisons Restaurant named after their son. In this lovely Queensland garden setting in Wharf Street, Spencer applies innovative European methods to the finest local produce to create a cuisine ideal for the Australian tropics.

Last night Spencer joins seven other Port restaurants to produce a fabulous eight course ‘Degustation under the Stars’ culinary event at the Carnivale Palates of Port for over 150 guests. Set in Rex Smeal Park the giant fig tree came to life when illuminated with fairy lights, lanterns and up-lights of soft, atmospheric colours that created an absolutely magical setting. At its base a small stage provided the setting for each of the eight contributing chefs to demonstrate how their dish was prepared and showcased the local produce which it incorporated. A large projected screen showed the preparation processes involved.

Spencer of Harrison’s Restaurant was joined in the kitchen with other chefs from Bucci Ristorante, High Tide Beach Bistro Bar, Salsa Bar & Grill, 2 Fish Seafood Restaurant, Bistro 3, Bel Cibo; and Sakinah House Restaurant.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo is the most versatile product in the world as well as the strongest wood. The shoots have been used for food across Asia for thousands of years and are harvested as soon as they appear above the ground, while they are still young.

Bamboo shoots must be peeled and cooked before using. Do not eat bamboo shoots raw. Trim the roots, peel the outer leaves (sheath leaves), and remove any tough flesh - tender leaves can be left attached.

Extremely popular in China and Asia, Bamboo Shoots can be boiled, sautéed, or steamed as an accompaniment to meat or fish. Braised in soy sauce and spices, sliced Bamboo Shoots are often served as appetizers or added to soups, stews and various other Oriental dishes.

Asper Park Bamboo is an organic Bamboo plantation on the Atherton Tableland producing fresh Bamboo Shoots and processed Marinated Bamboo Shoots. The marinade for the Bamboo Shoots is made with Vinegar, palm Sugar, Garlic, Ginger, Herbs and spices and free from any artificial preservatives, colours or flavours. For more information Contact Sue Stephens on 4091 1737 or

Zinc Chandon Luncheon - Port Douglas Carnivale

Hagan Wittner - Zinc Restaurant Port Douglas
22rd May 2010

Keeping food clean, simple and very tasty and never forgetting about old school cooking methods is the philosophy of Hagan Wittner, Head Chef at Zinc Port Douglas. “The tropical foods of this region really suits Asian style cooking and that’s so exciting when you come from a European traditional cooking style; it really makes for a great fusion” says Hagan who has been at Zinc Restaurant in Macrossan Street for over three years.

Hagan has had plenty of practice with local produce, as prior to Zinc he worked around Port Douglas at Sheraton Mirage as Sous Chef and the Rydges Reef (Sabaya) Resort. Previously working in other hotels and restaurants in Australia and Europe, he now calls Port Douglas home.

Hagan is looking forward to presenting his menu this Friday (28th May) at the popular Zinc Domaine Chandon Carnivale luncheon. It’s a beautifully balanced menu that is sure to please those who keep coming back to attend.

Starting off with French Veuve Clicquot Champagne on arrival, followed by a fabulous four course degustation menu that is perfectly matched with some luscious Domaine Chandon wines and finishing off with a Chandon Cuvee Riche, makes for a very, very pleasant luncheon.

The initial Zinc Domaine Chandon Carnivale luncheon commenced in 2004 in the year Zinc Restaurant opened, and now in its sixth year has become a major part of Carnivale and recognised for its tremendous value.


15th May 2010

Fresh Galangal rhizome (underground stem) is usually pink tinged in colour with a creamy white flesh that has a delicate, aromatic, peppery flavour. It is similar to ginger but should not be used as its substitute.

Peel and take off top layer and slice before either mincing or cutting into (matchstick) strips. Galangal is harder than ginger so will need to be cooked for a longer time to become tender. Leaves are sometimes used in soups (tied in a knot and removed before serving) or finely chopped as a garnish. For longer-term storage, galangal can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen.

Often used with garlic, shallots, ginger, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and tamarind; it’s found in a wide variety of dishes such as sauces, soups, satays, sambals, chicken, meat and vegetable curries. It also tends to dissipate the fishy taste in fish and shellfish recipes.

Food Fight - Port Douglas Carnivale

Tommy Young - 2 Fish Restaurant Port Douglas
15th May 2010

Get eight top chefs of Port Douglas together and you have a ‘Food Fight’; not in the literary sense but a challenge to create the most impressive menu and deserve the title of Master Chef Port Douglas.

Staged at sunset on the Port Douglas Sugar Wharf on Thursday 27th May, a mystery basket of ingredients will put the chefs under pressure of a panel of professional industry based judges. Celebrity Chef Darren Simpson from La Sala Restaurant, Sydney and Neil Hargreaves, Food Stylist from the Age Epicurean will adjudicate the winner based on a number of criteria including the difficulty factor in preparation, the creative use of the ‘mystery’ ingredient, the skilled execution of the dish, how it relates to current cuisine trends and of course how good it tastes and looks.

Tommy Young is one of those Young Chefs of Port who heads up the kitchen at 2 Fish Restaurant on Wharf Street. He came to Australia from England and worked at the Radisson and Opera House in Sydney before taking off to Canada. Much too cold there, he needed to defrost and chose the lifestyle of Tropical North Queensland. Tommy enjoys the hard work of the kitchen that is balanced by ‘always something exciting to do’ on his days off, that this region offers. Tommy has been in Port Douglas for nearly six years and has worked as Sous Chef of Nautilus and The Living Room before becoming Head Chef at the stylish 2 Fish Restaurant.

“Awesome”! Tommy describes the local food of this region. “I love this Asian influenced tropical cuisine that is very different from the traditional one I was trained in” he added.

Other chefs participating in the Food Fight are Shaun Malone - Bucci Ristorante, Thomas Ahsendorf and Phil Seely - High Tide Beach Bistro Bar, Goran Zonai - Salsa Bar & Grill, Evan Seaward - Bistro 3, Spencer Patrick and Sam Hiroki - Harrison’s Restaurant, Andy Gray - Bel Cibo, and Anthony Kramer -Sakinah House Restaurant.

This inaugural event should be extremely entertaining with the audience also participating in the ‘People’s Choice’ vote which qualifies them for the door prize draw; two tickets to join the Chef’s Table at the inaugural Palates of Port dinner the following night. For more information go to

Food & Wine Festivals

8th May 2010

I really got my fill of food last weekend when I travelled to the Noosa Food & Wine Festival and then onto Adelaide for Tasting Australia.

At Noosa it was an action packed weekend of guest chefs converging with local chefs to celebrate Australia’s great food and wine. Our Nick Holloway of NuNu’s was one to team up with Dayle Merlo of Bistro C on the beach for a dinner of the best of coastal cuisine.

At the Celebration of Australia Food and Wine event in the park there were cooking demonstrations, food tastings, lectures and of course plenty of food, wine and entertainment.

With drawcards such as Mat Preston and George Colombaris of MasterChef fame, Greg Doyle of Pier NSW, Geoff Lindsay of Pearl Vic, Philip Johnson of Ecco Brisbane and Matt Moran of Aria NSW/QLD, the festival attracted over 8,000 people through the gates.

So off to Adelaide and straight to the Feast of the Senses in Elder’s park on the Torrens River. Wow! Over 20,000 people visited this event on that sunny Sunday. …and no wonder; I thought I would be there for an hour or so, but I just couldn’t leave the place. Apart from the great food and wine, the cooking demonstrations and the celebrities, I spent most of my time in the ‘Word of Mouth’ event hosted by Joanna Savill that covered food and wine related matters. I particularly enjoyed listening to the exuberant Peter Cundall talk on ripping up your lawn to grow vegetables. In his 80’s, what an inspiration?

Tasting Australia hosted a total of 45 events and at the Le Cordon Bleu Media awards it was the who’s who of food with Italy’s Antonio Carluccio, Ireland’s Paul Rankin, Rosemary Shager (Ladettes to Ladies) Anthony Worrell Thompson, Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Simon Bryant, Manu Feildel, Paul Mercurio, Ian Parmentier, Poh Ling Yeow, and Will Studd just to name a few.


1st May 2010

Durians originated from Malaysia and Borneo and are regarded as the ‘king of tropical fruit’. Described as ‘taste like heaven and stinking like hell’, the fruit is large golden greenish in colour and covered in spines.

The flesh is divided into five segments, each containing one to four seeds. Maturity is indicated when the middle of the fruit exudes a strong smell and the flesh has a really rich creamy texture and tastes like cream chease, garlic and onions.

After consuming fruit, pour water into skin cavity and drink from this to avoid burping. To remove odour from fingers, pour water over external surface of skin and wash hands in the runoff.

Durians are best eaten fresh but the flesh can also be used for making jams and cakes. The richness of the flesh also makes an excellent foil to hot, spicy foods like curries and chilli dishes. Durian seeds can be roasted and eaten like nuts. Great in mousses, drinks and desserts. Durian flesh freezes and stores well, freshly thawed it is a welcome treat during the off season.

Port Douglas Carnivale 2010 The Looonnnngest Lunch

1st May, 2010

Hotel chefs don’t often stay in one place for very long, they usually move around from hotel to hotel, but for Klaus Keller; he seems to have made his home in Port Douglas. For the past 17 years German born Klaus has been working for the Sheraton Mirage and is now the longest serving Executive Chef of the hotel. It’s at the hotel that Klaus met Rupa and they were married two years ago in Port Douglas; however last November they journeyed to India for a traditional Indian wedding with her family.

As Executive Chef, Klaus presides over three restaurants, a cafe, two bars and events throughout the large resort complex and some of the outstanding guest he has cooked for are US President Bill Clinton, Chinese president Hu Jintao, rock stars AC/DC, Guns and Roses to name a few. Klaus was president of Les Torque Blanches (TNQ) an association for professional chefs for two years 2005/6.

“The lush green environment, easy Australian lifestyle and the village community of Port Douglas was the attraction, as well as working with great local produce” says Klaus who chefed in several countries of Europe before coming to Port. Klaus is very active in seeking out local food produce for his menus and this year’s Longest Lunch menu will be ‘very local’.

Last year the Carnivale’s Longest Lunch event was hosted for the first time by Sheraton and the love-to-lunchers of Port Douglas along with the seasoned Southern visitors turned up with delight. This year’s theme ‘Lunch like a Celebrity’ has promised there will be good reason to dress to impress and make it a very lonnnng lunch.