This January, it won't just be top seeded tennis players making their way to Melbourne, but a handful of high profile chefs too. Amongst them Murano's Michelin Star Chef Angela Hartnett and Quay's Peter Gilmore, both of whom are hosting intimate dining experiences as part of the AO Chef Series aligned with Melbourne's grand slam. So what better time to grill the Bennelong Executive Chef about his serve.
First things first, how's your tennis game?
I haven't played in over 20 years, but I used to have a pretty good serve.
What can we expect from your AO Chef Series dinner?
I've created a 5-course menu with canapés on arrival inspired by what we do at Quay. I'll be serving mud crab, raw smoked Blackmore Wagyu, fan shell razor clam with smoked pig jowl, Arkady lamb with nasturtium, black garlic and seaweed, finishing with vanilla, lychee and coconut.
How is this different from a night at Quay or Bennelong?
Anytime you cook outside your own restaurant it's always a little different. There are lots of different factors to take into account, but the aim to is give taste of what it would be like to eat at Quay.
If you were a betting man, who would your money be on to win the Aussie grand slam?
I'm going for the highest possible odds: Pat Rafter.
Describe Melbourne in three words.
Creative, innovative, loyal.
What are some of your favourite Melbourne haunts?
What should first-time visitors do/see in Melbourne?
Take a tram to St Kilda.
You're award-winning chef, how do you stay at the top of your game?
Innovation and not resting on your laurels.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
My garden and my flavour memory.
Tell us about the first time you set foot in a professional kitchen.
I was 15 and was doing work experience for school. I remember being overwhelmed with how much stainless steel there was and the industrial feel of a kitchen.
What's an important life lesson you try to impart to young chefs?
To only do this job if you're passionate and to think about what they are cooking rather than just blindly doing it.
If you were dining at Quay, what would you order? And Bennelong?
The latest version of my obsession of pig and the sea - fan shell razor clam, shaved shiitake, smoked pig jowl, sea cucumber crackling - which I'm bringing down to Melbourne. For Bennelong, it has to be the yabbies.
Your snow egg gets a lot of press. What inspired the dessert?
The idea of making a spherical ball that has a prized element inside and the combination of granita fool, meringue and ice cream.
You're a MasterChef regular; rewind the clock, if you had one chance to impress your culinary heroes, what would you cook?
Just cook a dish that you truly love to eat.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
How diverse my music taste is.
What can we expect from your upcoming book?
A detailed look at some of the world's most beautiful and rare vegetables with most of the recipes being simple and straight-forward.
What's the one ingredient you couldn't live without?
AO Chef Series: A Night with Peter Gilmore tickets are on sale now, priced $595. Wednesday 24 January 2018 6.30 pm - 10.30pm at The Glasshouse, Olympic Boulevard VIC 3001. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit ausopen.com.
Presented by Tennis Australia