This year I return to join the team of bloggers and follow the journey of the WA Signature Dish Competition 2015. Many of you will remember my comprehensive coverage of last year’s competition which included a trip up to the stunning Gascoyne region where I went on my own paddock to plate experience meeting the local farmers and producers in person. I visited a number of banana plantations, ate chocolate pudding fruit straight from the tree and even got to climb on board a crabbing boat.
The WA Signature Dish is an annual cooking competition that promotes Western Australia’s beautiful and abundant local produce. The competition is open to amateur cooks who must create a recipe that best represents our “State on a plate” using one or more of the “hero ingredients” from either the Gascoyne, Kimberley, Swan Valley & Surrounds or Peel regions. Two contestants from each region will be chosen to compete in the Semi Final cook-off event on the 14 October in Perth.
This year Peter Manifis will join us again as the mentor chef for the Gascoyne region. Peter grew up on WA’s Pilbara coast and being the son of a commercial fisherman, he developed a passion for our State’s abundant seafood from a very young age. By the time Peter was ten years old he had already decided that he was going to be a chef. He trained at the famous Loose Box under French Master Chef Alain Farbregues and is now a partner in the successful South Perth restaurant InContro. Read my interview with Peter last year and see some of his mouth-watering creations at InContro restaurant.
The Hero Ingredients that the contestants must use from the Gascoyne Region this year are:
• Wild Shark Bay Prawns (Northern Star Ocean Products)
• Carnarvon grown tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant and chilli (Loveapple)
• Shark Bay Mullet, Shark Bay Scallops, Pink Snapper and Shark Bay Whiting (recommended by the WA Fishing Industry Council)
Once the four regional Semi Final winners are selected, they will each then work with their mentor chef for their chosen region to prepare them for the Grand Finale which will be held at Margaret River Gourmet Escape on the 22 November. The judging panel for the Grand Finale will consist of Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume), Shane Osborn (from Michelin starred St Betty’s restaurant in Hong Kong) and a third high profile chef who is yet to be named.
The winner of the WA Signature Dish Competition 2015 will receive two days mentoring with Guillaume Brahimi at Bistro Guillame in Crown Perth, plus a trip for two to a luxurious remote Western Australian location for a wine and dine experience and the opportunity to meet some of WA’s most respected chefs and industry figures along the way.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the 2015 WA Signature Dish Competition. The competition is organised by Buy West Eat Best, a food labelling program that’s all about supporting the local food industry in Western Australia. Buy West Eat Best aims to grow the value and consumption of local WA produced food. Buy West East Best provides consumers and the local food industry with a food-specific brand to clearly show Western Australian grown, farmed, fished and produced food.
After graduating from high school I left Adelaide and moved across to Perth to study for my dream career in Vet Science. Being only seventeen at the time, my worldly possessions consisted of a suitcase of clothes, some hand-me-down pots and pans, a hand written note book with all of Mum’s family recipes and my stereo tape deck. I couldn’t imagine why I would need or want anything more; music and food were enough to keep me happy.
It was fortunate that I was so easily satisfied because for the next six years I got to experience what it is like to live below the poverty line on Austudy, Australia’s government funded student income. It is easy to learn to go without when you barely have enough income to eat and pay your rent, and it forces you to become much more resourceful.
Many years have passed since then and reflecting back I struggle to comprehend how on Earth I made ends meet on such a small amount of money. I am so grateful that through all my years of perseverance, sacrifice and hard work it has finally paid off. Whilst I can hardly call myself a “rich bitch”, I am enjoying a level of luxury that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of having in my student days.
The Boy has developed a similar appreciation for the finer things in life having originally also come from humble beginnings. He has recognised my last couple of years have been tough ones and so he decided to spoil me for my 40th birthday with a brand new AMG A45. After driving a 1999 Honda Civic for the past ten years now I feel like I’m in a fantasy land. I never thought I could be in love with something with no heartbeat but who am I kidding, I’m completely smitten. She is fast, has a satisfying loud sporty engine and comes complete with personalised plates.
Of course I now want to get behind the wheel at every given opportunity and our occasional weekend lunch dates generally involve a Sunday drive paired with a pit stop somewhere decent for food. In keeping with this concept we headed down to East Fremantle to check out May Street Larder, a new café from the creators of Bib & Tucker. Knowing Bib & Tucker’s food well I was anticipating good things.
As we waited for our table in the standing area, the barista called out to us to see if we wanted any coffees. We had been up quite late the night before and a hit of caffeine was just what I needed.
The Boy isn’t a coffee drinker which is something I will never quite understand. To each their own I guess. Once we were seated at our table he ordered himself a banana fig smoothie instead. It was not overly sweet and quite creamy, and he didn’t utter a single word until it was all gone.
I was keen to try the zucchini, lupin and lemon fritters. Lupins are a Western Australian grown product and were one of the main hero ingredients for last year’s WA Signature Dish. They are high in protein and fibre making them very filling.
My lupin fritters were topped with smashed avocado, savoury granola and a couple of poached eggs. The eggs were cooked magically with the fluffy whites encasing liquid gold yolks. We were seated on a communal table and I received a couple of bemused looks as I furiously photographed to capture ever second of my egg porn moment.
The lack of sleep was giving the Boy a small dose of indecisiveness over the menu until he saw a waiter with a pulled pork sandwich scoot past to a nearby table and then his choice was crystal clear. The pork shoulder was slow cooked to a near melting point and was ever so moist and flavoursome. The chipotle aioli wasn’t too intense for his sensitive tastebuds and he informed me he liked that it had a subtle sweetness to it. His sandwich also came with some May Street Larder house pickles along with very moreish deep fried sweet potato crisps.
Sadly this was a rare day where my appetite lacked its usual gusto due to a persistent hangover. Additionally my dish of lupin and zucchini fritters was so filling it left me no room for any sweets. I was so disappointed and consoled myself by wandering over to the counter to at least have a peek. What a shame! There were heaps of desserts for people like me; gluten free, vegan and raw options so I would have been spoilt for choice. Basically this simply means I will just have to come back again another day!
May Street Larder
Shop 23, 155 Canning Highway, East Fremantle WA 6158 | www.maystreetlarder.com.au
Over recent weeks I have been providing you with insider coverage of the inaugural WA Signature Dish competition run by Buy West Eat Best; a government initiative to help promote eating locally grown and made produce. I was appointed as the official blogger for the Gascoyne region and travelled up to Carnarvon to attend the regional final.
The three other participating regions were Perth and Surrounds, Southern Forests and the Great Southern. Each region’s finalist received one-on-one mentoring by their delegated chef to help prepare them for the Grand Finale held at the Perth Cultural Centre on WA Day. On the big day, the Cultural Centre was alive with activity with much to see and do for people of all ages.
The WA Day event was a free event and the Buy West Eat Best tent was packed full of stalls offering tastings of all sorts of local deliciousnesses including banana smoothies, gelato, oils, condiments and best of all, gluten free lupin flour chocolate cake. I was joined by two of my dear friends Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin who were also attending as official bloggers representing Perth and the Great Southern.
Each contestant had ninety minutes to prepare their dish from scratch using a variety of ingredients sourced from their region. Rhiannon Birch was competing for the Perth and Surrounds region and her dish was Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust with sweet potato and lupin salad with Moroccan flavours. Much to my approval her dish is entirely gluten free.
Clare King’s dish came from the Great Southern region titled “A Celebration of Beef in Thai style” and was made using a luscious Butterfield beef fillet topped with pearls of Pemberton Finger Limes.
Many of you have already been following on the blog the story of Paul Kelly, the contestant for the Gascoyne region with his Gascoyne tasting plate. This colourful plate included Shark Bay wild King prawns with salsa verde, plantation vegetable gazpacho with Abacus crab sticks, Shark Bay snapper ceviche and some simple pan-fried Shark Bay Pink snapper with lime mayonnaise and pickled Gascoyne vegetables.
Competing for the Southern Forests region, the softly spoken Alana Starkie prepared some stunning fresh Southern Forest marron with a Pink Lady apple, avocado and lime salsa. To make the competition even more challenging, throughout the entire cook off the four contestants were individually interviewed by both their chef and the hosts Anna Gare and Don Hancey. I was surprised how well they all kept their cool under pressure and kept their focus on cooking!
The final decision for the winning dish was made by the panel of high profile judges; Guillaume Brahimi, Ralf Vogt and Rob Broadfield. You could nearly hear a pin drop in the packed marquee as each judge carefully tasted the four dishes.
Whilst the quality and standard of each dish was high, there can only ever be one winner and this year the winner was Rhiannon Birch for her Perth dish of Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust with sweet potato and lupin salad with Moroccan flavours.
For the recipes for all the contestants dishes head over to the Buy West Eat Best website.
The Buy West Eat Best WA Signature Dish Finale was a free event held on the 2nd of June 2014 at the Perth Cultural Centre. I would like to thank buy West Eat Best and all the team at Clarity Communications for allowing me to be part of this fabulous WA Signature Dish experience. Also thanks to Paul Kelly and Chef Peter Manifis for putting in such an incredible effort for the Gascoyne region. Fingers crossed for a win next year!
For those not up to speed on the happenings here on Chompchomp, I have been selected to be the official blogger for the Gascoyne region in the inaugural WA Signature Dish competition. This is a competition open to all amateur cooks in Western Australia with the mission to find the best dish that represents our State on a plate.
The Gascoyne region is located in the north-west of our State about 900 km north of Perth. It includes the regions of Exmouth, Coral Bay, Carnarvon and Shark Bay and forms the gateway to the world-famous Ningaloo Reef.
To enter a recipe in the WA Signature Dish competition, contestants have to use at least one ingredient from the choice of “hero” producers located in their region. For the Gascoyne these producers are:
- • Pickles Point Seafood who are well-known for their fresh local seafood including snapper, prawns and crab,
- • Sweeter Banana Co-op who supply much of our bananas here in Perth and around the State,
- • Loveapple who grow a variety of fruit and vegetables including red capsicums, tomatoes and eggplants, and
- • Morels Orchard who grow a wide range of tropical fruits plus loads of fresh herbs.
There are four finalists for each region that have been carefully selected from the multitude of recipes that were submitted for the competition. There will be four regional finals held over the next week in order to narrow it down to just one chef from each region who then go on to compete in the final on WA Day in June.
The Gascoyne finalists will be facing each other for their competition cook off on Monday 5th May in Carnarvon. The competition will be judged by Chef Peter Manifis from InContro restaurant in South Perth. I shall be travelling up to the Gascoyne region to be able to join them on the day. Being quite a distance to travel the Boy has agreed to go with me and make a holiday of it. We will stay up in the region for the week exploring all the amazing food they have to offer.
The four Gascoyne regional finalists are:
Jerolina RankinQ: How would you describe your style of cooking? Simple and fresh, with influence from my Indonesian heritage Q: Why should your dish win the title of WA’s Signature Dish? It sums up the Gascoyne – fresh seafood, sunshine in the climate, freshness of the soil and all the flavour that it brings to each individual ingredient.
Paul KellyQ: How would you describe your style of cooking? Simple, I like to integrate local ingredients and see how they work together Q: Why should your dish win the title of WA’s Signature Dish? Mine is wider than a dish, it’s a tasting plate – anyone that comes to town could pick a component and get a taste of the region – “a Taste of the Gascoyne”. It’s easy and versatile, so you could be in the caravan park or camping and cook parts of this dish.
Amy SheltonQ: How would you describe your style of cooking? Home style but with English influence from my parents heritage. Q: Why should your dish win the title of WA’s Signature Dish? It’s a little bit different. People are scared to cook with roo, so I hope the way in which I have created this dish, inspires others to try it.
Gayle DewarQ: How would you describe your style of cooking? Simple and minimalist I like to let the produce speak for itself. I’m not one for disguising flavour, especially seafood Q: Why should your dish win the title of WA’s Signature Dish? My produce is beautiful and fresh and it’s a simple dish with simple flavours. It’s just awesome.
Whilst I have travelled most of the south west of our state many times over, the seaside town of Dongara is the furthest I have ever travelled north. I feel somewhat shameful of this fact as I consider myself loyal to this beautiful state and I am very excited to be able to explore this Gascoyne region and all the food it has to offer.
Stay tuned for my next instalment!
I am a massive believer in sourcing local produce and will go out of my way to ensure the majority of food I eat is locally grown, fished, farmed and produced in this beautiful State I call home. The logical way for me to do this is to buy direct from the producers themselves however this can be a very time consuming process when you want to eat a wide range of food!
Buy West Eat Best is a government funded food labelling program which makes my life easier by providing a way of clearly identifying Western Australian produce. In order to use the logo businesses must apply and need to meet certain criteria before being registered. Regular random checks are performed to ensure compliance at both the retail and the manufacturing level.
WA’s Signature Dish is an exciting competition to be hosted by Buy West Eat Best over the next few months. The competition is open to amateur cooks who love food and cooking but are not professional chefs. The aim is to find the ultimate recipe that puts our State on the plate.
Regional food councils from around the State will be participating allowing each region to show off their key star ingredients. The four regions are Perth and Surrounds, Southern Forests, the Gascoyne and the Great Southern. I have been selected as the official blogger for the Gascoyne region and in the lead up to the event finale I will be updating you with the competition’s progress with particular attention to the Gascoyne. My dear friend Foodie Cravings will be the official blogger for Perth and Surrounds, the adorable Perth Munchkin will be covering the Great Southern and You Tube chef sensation Nicko’s Kitchen will cover the Southern Forests.
If you would like to enter your recipe into the competition, head over to their website and look at the different regions to select your ingredients. Ensure that your dish contains at least one ingredient from the listed choices. You do not have to live in the region you choose to compete in however you do need to be a West Australian resident. Using your chosen ingredient/s, you need to create an original recipe that you feel is worthy enough to be named WA’s Signature Dish.
There will be a cook-off held in each region at the end of this month in order to select the regional winners. These four winners will then be each mentored individually by a leading WA chef to compete at the Grand Finale cook-off in Perth on WA Day on the 2nd of June 2014.
The final winner will be chosen by a panel of three high profile chefs; Guillaume Brahimi from Bistro Guillaume, Rob Broadfield, the Food Editor at The West Australian, and Ralf Vogt the Executive Chef at the Crown Perth.
Entries close 7th April 2014. For more information and how to enter head over to the Buy West Eat Best website.