15 October 2011

National Stroke Foundation 'Food for Thought' Fundraiser Dinner, Daltone House, Pyrmont (13 Oct 2011)

Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf, Piers 19-21, Upper Deck
26-32 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont Point NSW 2009

Eight chefs unite to raise funds

“The National Stroke Foundation is the only national not-for-profit organisation that works with stroke survivors, carers, health professionals, government and the public to reduce the impact of stroke on the Australian community. Our mission as the voice of stroke in Australia is to stop stroke, save lives and end suffering”

Thanks to Diana Kerr and Catriona McGauchie from the National Stroke Foundation for inviting me to attend their fundraiser dinner. Joanna Savill hosted the evening and throughout the night introduced stroke survivors who told their intimate stories of survival — it’s amazing and scary how young one can be to have a stroke. Eight well-known chefs donated their time and dishes for the cause and there were live and silent auction to help raise funds. Adriano Zumbo & Riccardo Momesso served up an interesting Calabrian Canoli canapé. It seems Adriano ‘freakin’ Zumbo enjoys making savoury dishes as well as desserts. I tried eating with my hand as suggested but it did get a little messy due to the sorbet. Colin Fassnidge’s entrée of Smoked regal salmon and confit pork was nicely presented and I really enjoyed Alessandro Pavoni’s Crudo di Trota using Petuna ocean trout which you’ll find at Tetsuya’s. The crispy mandarin was very interesting and gave a nice crunch to the dish along with the salty pop of the trout caviar.

Giovanni Pilu served up a White and green asparagus risotto with Sardinian truffle pecorino fonduta. It definitely tasted better than it looked on the plate and one to be eaten in moderation as I saw how much butter went into it. Risotto is a dish that any chef would be hard pressed to make look nice on a plate. I really enjoyed the salty truffle sauce on top that gave the dish extra flavour depth. One of my favourite dishes of the night was Soren Lascelles’s Prosiutto wrapped ballotine of quail, date purée, salsify and walnuts. It combined a lovely chicken mousse inside which balanced well with the other flavours. Richard Ptacnik’s Slowly braised beef cheek in marsala was a richly flavoured dish with tender meat that easily feel apart. The black grape salsa helped cut through the heaviness of the meat. Leanne Beck served up individual Bombe Alaska raspberry and vanilla for dessert which were crowd pleasers. I thought a bit of raspberry coulis or passionfruit would have also gone nicely with the dish.

PROS: Eight top chefs cooking your dinner in one night, Raising awareness of the risk factors and signs of stroke and promoting healthy lifestyles, Raising valuable funds to support a good cause, Enjoyable atmosphere, Nice location
CONS: Not having enough money to auction bid for Otto's Richard Ptacnik Cooking in your own home for eight guests ($5500 winning bid), No free parking in the area
MUST TRY: Alessandro's crispy mandarin, Soren's prosciutto wrapped ballotine of quail

Table setting

Bread with butter or olive oil

Adriano Zumbo & Riccardo Momesso

Canapé: Calabrian Canoli – Tomato & chilli sorbet, black olives, spanish onion crumbs and salami

Joanna Savill (co-editor SMH Good Food Guide and Director of the Sydney International Food Festival) and Chef Colin Fassnidge (Four in Hand)

Entree: Smoked regal salmon, confit pork

Chef Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at The Spit and Spiedo)

Dish one: Crudo di Trota - Petuna ocean trout crudo, trout caviar, squid ink mayonnaise, crispy mandarin, dried sea lettuce

Chef Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater)

Dish two: White and green asparagus risotto with Sardinian truffle pecorino fonduta

Chef Soren Lascelles (Assiette)

Dish three: Prosiutto wrapped Ballotine of quail, date purée, salsify and walnuts

Chef Richard Ptacnik (Otto)

Dish four: Slowly braised beef cheek in marsala with Jerusalem artichoke puree, black grape salsa, hazelnuts and baby herbs

Chef Leanne Beck (Sweet Infinity)

Dessert: Individual Bombe Alaska raspberry and vanilla

Vittoria coffee

Cutting the cheese and toasting the meringues

Alessandro preparing the risotto

All chefs on deck

Soren getting ready to talk to the guests

Adriano fan photo

Richard getting prepped for this speech — I hope ;-)

Colin and Richard preparing dessert

Interesting footwear in the kitchen

Wait staff checking the program

Glassware holding — this looks pretty scary

Setting and decor

Stroke victim posters — many of which are quite young

Silent bidding and auction time

F.A.S.T. campaign to spot a stroke, Goodie bag for all guests

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