Written by – Sue Whiteman, Well Travelled
Think of Spicers Retreats and inspired culinary creations by award-winning chefs is top of mind. At the recent Chefs in the City event at Spicers Balfour Hotel, that was certainly the case.
Arriving at the hotel in Brisbane’s chic New Farm was like arriving for dinner at a friend’s house. The iconic Queenslander residence turned boutique hotel is welcoming, stylish and elegant and the rooftop bar with its sweeping city views provided the perfect setting for this gastronomic journey.
Like a progressive dinner but with an urban food stall approach in the form of a night market, five Spicers head chefs – boasting seven chefs hats between them – presented their amazing ‘street style’ dishes. This was the the first of three events this year designed to showcase Spicers’ wonderful food offerings from the regions, in the city. If you get in early enough, tickets are on sale to food-lovers everywhere for ‘chapters’ two and three.
With matching wines and beers, on this occasion we were treated to an eclectic dining experience where at each ‘stall’, we were introduced to the chefs who talked us through their creations and the Retreats they represented.
Delicious Coffin Bay oysters. Image: Sue Whiteman
First up was the host property’s Jordan Clavaron who proffered Coffin Bay oysters topped with fresh citrus and lime caviar, or champagne mignonette, making for the perfect starter. Chef Jordan spoke about his passion for food while giving us a lesson on the correct way to eat oysters (bite into them!).
The twinkle of evening lights from the rooftop bar overlooking the city and the vibrant Story Bridge just added to the lively atmosphere – as did the champagne of course.
Next stop was Head Chef Daniel Jarrett from Spicers Tamarind Retreat near Montville on the Sunshine Coast. Dan gave us a taste of his South East Asian fusion cuisine with noodle boxes of Bun Cha with marinated pork and spices of Vietnam.
Chef Dan from Spicers Tamarind Retreat in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Image: Sue Whiteman
These explosions of flavour were washed down with a Hanoi Beer. If you preferred a kick to your dish, Dan’s homemade Sriacha (hot chilli sauce) packed a mighty flavoursome punch.
Adding an authentic and fun feel to Chef Dan’s street stall was the milk crate seats where we enjoyed our boxed snack.
Enjoying Chef Dan’s Bun Cha noodle box. Image: Sue Whiteman
After a short break mingling with fellow foodies, it was time for the next surprise. And what a taste sensation it was! House-cured ocean trout with fresh fennel, young turnips, radish and sea parsley complemented by a luscious Margaret River riesling from Leeuwin Estate.
It was abundantly clear the passion that Head Chef Minh Le from Spicers Peak Lodge in the beautiful Scenic Rim west of Brisbane, had put into this dish.
House cured ocean trout was a clear favourite – delicate and delicious. Image: Sue Whiteman.
Also west of Brisbane in the township of Grandchester is Spicers Hidden Vale.
Homage Restaurant Head Chef Ash Martin, like all Spicers’ chefs, has a clear vision and passion for his craft and is a true master of the kitchen.
Home-grown and locally-sourced produce from surrounding farms is key to the culinary experience according to Chef Ash. Serving kangaroo tail with riberry and macadamias, this was my first taste of kangaroo and it blew me away by how tender and delicious it was. Washed down with a Barossa Shiraz, this was a special sensory experience.
The street stall food was a real hit for chapter one of ‘Chefs in the City’ by Spicers Retreats. Image: Sue Whiteman
With the evening in full swing, it was time for the grand finale. ‘Fox in the Hen House’, a wonderful version of lemon meringue pie, was Head Chef Chris Hagan’s glorious contribution to the evening. Chris heads up the sumptuous The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estate in Montville on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Chefs in the City street stalls. Image credit: Sue Whiteman
With the success of Chapter One of three in the Chefs in the City program, I just can’t wait for the next installments.