Cuisine: Cafe, Modern Australian
Location: East Perth – Hay St
Disclosure: Invite was complimentary
Just before I took off on my holiday to China I received an invite to a cooking class at Chefhire Atelier. Being a foodie and cooking a lot I was more than happy to accept the invite, particularly looking at the menu we were to prepare as well as to see how some of the chefy equipment is used in preparing the dishes:
- Starter: Sous vide smoked salmon, asparagus espuma
- Main: Spherified gnocchi, cyrofiltered tomato broth
- Dessert: Green tea sponge, chocolate ravioli, coffee foam
This class covers the use of some modern equipment such as sous vide bath, thermal circulators, foam guns and a few interesting techniques such as spherification and some different types of foam.
Bradley Backhouse is the executive chef and owner of ChefHire and ChefHire Atelier. They run a cafe and restaurant, operate a range of cooking classes, hire out chefs and other hospitality staff for events and the like. As ChefHire offer staff for training, they’re always on the lookout for experienced staff. However, even if you’re looking to begin or switch careers into the world of food, they also train apprentices and trainees in working in the kitchen and in a hospitality environment.
Sitting down at the table when we first walked in, I was a little thrown whether we would be cooking the dishes or would we just be served. No, this is where we eat our creations…or disasters!
After washing our hands we entered the kitchen where we saw the various workspaces ready for us to begin.
I’d noticed the salmon was soaking in salted water. It soaked for 20 minutes before being drained.
First up was whisking gelatine, which had been soaking in water, in the brewed coffee. The final mixture was then poured into moulds to be placed in a blast chiller to expedite the setting of the panna cotta.
We also had a pot of milk on the stove where goat’s cheese was added and then it was melted by gently stirring with the spatula. They were then added to a mould with a touch of water before being placed in a blast chiller for about 5 minutes. The challenge was getting them out of the moulds. Mine fell apart into 2 pieces. They were supposed to slip easily into a water mixture which had an element added which causes a skin to form around the goat’s cheese to create texture. They are then picked up with a spoon and carefully added to another water mixture and then finally placed on to the plate. The above discs is how they’re supposed to look. Mine didn’t look anything like that.
Spherified gnocchi, cyrofiltered tomato broth
We had topped and tailed cherry tomatoes before very thinly slicing garlic and adding it to the top of the tomatoes. I went a bit heavy with the garlic. After placing on the plate with the goat’s cheese, a few spoonfuls of a tomato broth are added along with an element that’s akin to balsamic vinegar. Transporting the dish from the kitchen to table is a challenge in trying not to allow the broth to slosh about. How do waiters keep such a steady hand?
Well it was time to eat and sit down to our first creation. It’s a simple meal with some delicious flavours. I’m a big fan of goat’s cheese but that tomato broth carries so much flavour! I had to drink the broth off the plate it was that good! Forget etiquette.
Next up it was learning how to make chocolate soil. We had swapped chefs and gone to the other side of the kitchen. The first group already made some of the dessert and the salmon, now it was our turn. I’ve eaten chocolate soil though never seen it made. It was quite simple. Just make a syrup with 100g of sugar, dissolve the sugar in water before bringing it to a boil and taking it off the heat just when it goes a shade brown before it caramelises. Then add 75g of chocolate buds and stir vigorously till the chocolate melts in the hot syrup and then forms small clumps resembling soil. This was turned out on to a tray where we didn’t waste anytime with an invitation to taste!
With the salmon we had added olive oil and seasoning and given it a good toss before adding it to a packet with some more olive oil. They were vacuum sealed and then placed in a sous vide machine for 20 minutes at 52C. After that the packets were taken out, cut open, and placed in containers.
Time for something a little more fun, firing up the smoking gun. Had a few issues but once the wood chips ignited there was a steady stream of smoke which was pipped into each container and then the lid was shut to let the smoke infuse into the cooked salmon.
When the lid of the container was lifted, lots of smoke came out. It’s a little hard to see in this picture against a white wall but it’s there.
Sous vide smoked salmon, asparagus espuma, 63C egg
Apart from the sous vide salmon, an egg was also sous vide whole. We drizzled a bit of olive oil on the plate, placed the cooked salmon fillet on top, seasoned, added some lemon zest, and then some asparagus espuma. Then, carefully cracking the egg open, then contents were placed on the plate. Fortunately it went fine for me. Season once again and add some micro herbs, and time to take my creation to the dining room to enjoy.
Well the wait was certainly worth it. Wow! The salmon is super soft, succulent and has a slightly raw texture even though it’s cooked. With seasoning, lemon zest and that absolutely amazing asparagus foam, this was a stunning meal. Yum!!! I must say that has got to be one of the best salmon dishes I’ve eaten. The texture the sous vide creates and the way it cooks it ensuring every bit is super tender is quite amazing. However, that asparagus foam stole the show for me. What an amazing element and it partners perfectly with the salmon. I’m not a fan of eggs, in fact, I don’t like them. However, the 63C egg was really delicious. I certainly enjoyed it.
With the chocolate soil made it was time to start putting the dessert together. First was trying to get the now set coffee panna cottas out of their mould. You need to create an air pocket via a knife or spoon and then swirl the mould around so the air pocket loosens all around the mould. Easier said than done but managed to get it out somehow.
Now it’s time for some more fun by using a foam gun. The green tea sponge mixture is made and emptied into the gun before gas canisters are released into the mixture.
A paper cup with holes on the bottom are used to pipe the mixture before being whisked to the microwave for 40 seconds where it cooks in no time.
Out comes the sponge which needs to set by leaving it there for a few minutes. Once set, we used scissors to cut along one side and then carefully peal the paper cup away from the sponge. Then you just tear the sponge and place it on the plate.
Add some micro herbs and a rather generous scoop of salted caramel ice cream and we’re nearly done.
Green tea sponge, chocolate ravioli, coffee foam
Here’s my finished creation. Time to take it to the table and tuck in. I loved each of the elements on the plate, the soft sponge, salted caramel ice cream, the rather strong coffee pannacotta, but especially the chocolate soil. Surprised we had enough left to pour on the plate as we ate a lot in the kitchen, some more than others. I’m not sure all elements work with each though but I have a sweet tooth so no complaints from me! Yum. It’s been an excellent night and lots of fun. A big thanks to Brad and Han for their assistance in the kitchen, and for the invite to experience this cooking class.
Chefhire Atelier Restaurant Details
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