Mal Gill reflects on four days spent cooking and exploring at Fine Food Australia 2017
Nothing draws a crowd like Black Star Pastry’s watermelon cake. That’s just one thing I learned after spending four days at Fine Food Australia last month. What a week! If you were there, you will know it was an exciting four days of Australia’s best suppliers, up-and-coming chefs and wholesalers taking over two whole floors of the International Convention Centre in Sydney.
Between cooking for Tip Top Foodservice, I managed to squeeze in a few laps around the show (and cheeky tastings), and the standard of our foodservice suppliers continues to blow me away. Some trends that were on show that are worth watching, include:
Hybrid foods are taking over Australia’s foodie scene
International flavours, cooking techniques and ingredients were out in full force at Fine Food and everyone is looking for the next big thing. We’re seeing Asian ingredients on pizza and Mexican flavours in burgers, savoury mixed with sweet and interesting texture combinations keeping everyone’s tastebuds guessing. This is no more obvious than in Speedibake’s new Gourmet Brioche Style Hot Dog Bun – it looks like a crusty baguette, cooks like classic Speedibake par-bake bread, but has the softness and sweetness of brioche. It’s a classic example of combining hybrid cooking techniques and international flavours.
Perfecting cooking methods is top of everyone’s list
Sous vide cooking is definitely having a moment in Australia. The ability to cook a piece of meat perfectly before searing and serving, means chefs can now offer mouth-wateringly tender cuts of meat consistently. This allows them to play with flavours more than ever before. I expect to see more and more of this back of house, as it’s a valuable tool for any chef (no matter the kitchen size).
Bowls are Big
Buddha bowls, salad bowls, burrito bowls, poke bowls – serving meals deconstructed in a bowl has become a popular presentation technique of late, and one that lends itself well to the healthy living crowd. People are going back to basics and are craving colourful, nutrient rich bowls especially as a grab-and-go option. This lends itself well to creativity as you can essentially make anything into a ‘bowl’ – my favourite at the moment is Hawaiian poke bowls of high quality fish and vegetables. Keep it interesting, be sure to introduce texture (I have found garlic bread ‘croutons’ to be a real winner) and include as many colours as possible to make it insta-worthy!
Australia is absolutely obsessed with burgers
This one was the most obvious to me. Why? Because whenever I made sliders or burgers as free samples at the Tip Top Foodservice stand, they flew off the plate. Burgers are capturing the imagination of Australia’s chefs and diners in a big way. With so many burger buns to choose from – milk, brioche, damper, classic, sliders, seeded, or even dinner rolls – there is room for a burger on every menu. The variety of flavours you can present in a burger is endless. If you don’t have a burger on your menu you are missing out.
What caught your attention at the show? Was it your first time? And the all-important question: did you get a slice of Black Star Pastry’s watermelon cake?!