One of my first meals out for 2018 was a return to Young George, a restaurant which is definitely on my Perth favourites list, for their second collaboration – the Collaboration Trash Dinner! This time the uber talented Chef Melissa Palinkas was joining forces with Chef Alia Glorie from Billie H in Claremont. I hadn’t visited Billie H as yet, though it was on my growing list and in its first year of opening it received a slew of positive accolades, so I was very excited to try Chef Alia’s cooking.
Our philosophy, is to use every part of all produce that comes through our kitchens, to reduce waste, and do our bit to protect the environment for future generations.
As with the first collab dinner, we were again down in the private cellar dining room. It is such a beautiful space. It was a shared affair, so groups were all set up along three simply but elegantly decorated long tables, adorned with native blooms. We were seated at the end of a long table, next to an entirely delightful couple who we chatted with over the course of the evening. Good company helps make shared dinners all the more special.
A welcome cocktail kicked off the theme for the evening and it tasted amazing! Feelin’ Trashy – Golden rum, house made wasted lime liquor, pickled strawberry syrup and soda splash. So expertly balanced – a little sweet, a little sour, and wonderfully refreshing! Would have loved a jug of it!
If you caught the article in Broadsheet about Chef Melissa, you’ll know she is very focused on doing her part to reduce waste and has made her kitchen as plastic free as possible. She is also a champion for WA produce. So ‘trash’ was referring to the many products that are largely thought to be not quite good enough for a restaurant, whether that is seafood bycatch (those cuttlefish that might get caught in prawn trawlers nets for example) or fruit and veg that might visually be a little wonky or have a stray lump or bump. Flavour wise perfectly fine, but likely not the first apple or carrot you’d reach for at the supermarket where everything is required to be essentially perfect. So this dinner was to remind us all that there are many under-appreciated food sources that you can cook with and a lot of the time flavour is more important than how something might look. So as we sat down to enjoy our meal I know in my mind I was hopeful that with the “from little things big things grow” approach, this important message would spread. As a society we need to try and reduce food wastage wherever possible and we all have to do what we can to support that.
Along with our entirely easy drinking cocktail we also enjoyed a few creative canapés – Tomato, fennel, smoked king fish belly, jalapeno and Chicken skin tart, crab spin, cultured crème fraiche. One was presented in a dainty cup made of crispy chicken skin and the other in a roasted tomato half. The girls definitely had their creative thinking caps on for this menu and these initial flavour combinations kicked everyone’s appetite into overdrive! Couldn’t wait for what was next.
We settled in for the first course, our shared entrees ‘Mezze’ included:
- Mantis shrimp parfait, carrot pulp & flax seed crackers
- Fried coral shrimp, lime salt, saffron aioli
- Chorizo duck neck sausage, pineapple
I had some slight concerns that a prawny parfait would be intensely seafoody, but not the case at all! It was indulgently creamy, with just the right infusion of shrimp flavour and the seedy carrot crackers were an ideal base for a generous smush of parfait. After a tentative first dip I went for a decidedly bigger dollop for my second crackerful. Was delicious!
Next up were some crispy prawns. Only little prawns, these little coral ones, and considered ‘trash’ because of the variance in sizes, but in that magic dusting of lime salt, flash fried to a crispy perfection they were addictive!! Would have happily sat and polished off a bucket of them, dipping away in the saffron aioli.
The chorizo duck neck sausage was as flavoursome as it sounded on paper. Because why wouldn’t you use a duck neck as a casing for an epic chorizo sausage? In the hands of experts such as these two, this was such a cracking dish. Duck is always a tasty meat and when teamed up with chorizo and the sweetness from the pineapple it was a total hit. Another inspired pairing. I was loving this trash caper!
A surprise course arrived before mains and it was a humble marron dumpling. Well actually…. sit down, be humble, because this wasn’t actually a humble dumpling at all! What a tasty treasure it was! With the experience all the more enhanced by the lemon myrtle spiked broth. I had much appreciation for the work that had gone into this heavenly mouthful. I’d spied on young George’s Instagram story that the junior chef needed to tackle a whole bucket of marron legs to make this dish a reality. My thanks to that superstar for all his hard work.
The feasting continued next with an interesting selection of dishes for our mains:
- Flat head skewer, saltbush
- Braised cuttlefish, charred cabbage
- Pea roots, puffed rice
- Beets, gin, coriander, green chilli
As we learnt, some additional work is required to clean up bycatch cuttlefish, turns out ink can be a little messy, but I thoroughly appreciated the kitchen team’s effort, because it was so wonderfully tender and teaming up cuttlefish with cabbage? Not something I’d have thought about doing before, but it worked really well.
Salt Bush is a lovely native flavour and having expertly threaded the fish onto the salt bush spears the aromas had delicately infused the tender fillets. It had been cooked perfectly and the fish paired beautifully with the two vegetable sides.
The pea roots and puffed rice was light and refreshing with interesting textural contrasts. As a long time beetroot fan I thoroughly enjoyed their inclusion on this menu. Sure, some did have slightly more texture than others, but the flavour remained delicious. Beetroot is bold in colour and taste and it was well showcased in this dish with the slight heat from the green chilli.
So many special ingredients on show and it had been a complete taste sensation across the board.
The dessert offering was fairly bold. Sourdough ice cream, smoked mango, roasted white chocolate. We were told it was a spin on a bread ice cream that Chef Melissa had enjoyed on her travels. And as a lover of bread I was definitely keen to find out what bread inspired dessert would be like. It was lovely. The mango coulis was intensely smoky, but it went so nicely with the sweetness from the white chocolate and creamy ice cream. It was another creative way to use different ingredients that may have gone to waste and it rounded out the evening on a high note.
I came away from this dinner feeling incredibly inspired by these two brilliant chefs who did such a superb job at highlighting that many an under appreciated ingredient, the ‘trash’, can actually be the star attraction. Also that reducing food wastage is really important and it can and should start at home. So if we all do our part, then slowly but surely we can make a difference.
For more information food waste and what you can do head to www.ozharvest.org/fight-food-waste
Please note: I was the guest of Young George for this event. My thanks to them for the invitation. All opinions, as always, are my own.