These days, I think a lot of food choices made by people living by Australia have in one form or another been shaped by this show:
With a show that goes on the TV screen at a primetime slot, Mondays to Fridays for the 1st half of the year, it’s so hard not to let its influences get to you! Through this show, I gained a respect for the fresh produce around Australia, and how chefs here put in so much effort to showcase the best ingredients that this land has to offer. And with big names like Maggie Beer, Curtis Stone, Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal dropping in the show to demonstrate some of their cooking magic in the kitchen, it’s so hard not to get inspired by them and start cooking in the kitchen!
So anyway, that’s the my 2 cents’ worth on the influence of Masterchef Australia in our society today. With that, after viewing an episode of the contestants cooking off in an ex-Masterchef contestant’s restaurant, I had this strong inclination to visit this restaurant. It was Josie Bones, set in Smith Street, Collingwood, just a 15min drive away from the city – sounds too near to miss out on! And how exactly do the Masterchef contestants’ cooking taste like, beyond the TV screen? I just had to find out!
So I rounded up a few Masterchef fans like myself who watched that episode and were keen to trying out the restaurant too – Ms CC, Ms Slim, Ms JQ and Andrew. And on one weekend night, we made our way there.
Yes, what a creative pair of door handles…
The owner of the restaurant, Chris Badenoch, was known to be slightly eccentric on the show and he was well known for using odd cuts of meat for his cooking. With that, you can really see how the restaurant mirrors his character. With black walls, dim lighting and a larger-than-life pig figurine stretched out across the main wall, it does give an eerie feel to the restaurant, reflecting a dark and slightly unusual character. And this prepared us that this meal is not just going to be your usual Aussie cuisine…
So what were we in for? How mysterious!
We started off with high expectations, given how the Masterchef Judges went oohhh & aaahh over the dishes and our 1st starter, the Kangaroo Carpaccio did not disappoint. (Unfortunately, I can’t find this dish on the current website and I can’t remember the price of this dish!).
The carpaccio was sliced so thinly that the gamieness of the kangaroo meat was not obvious and pine nuts helped to give the dish a delicate crunch. The rocket leaves also added a fresh bitterness to the dish and the bone marrow in the croquettes just melted in your mouth after the first bite. A very well-thought through dish and a winning combination of ingredients!
But following on from there, it kind of went downhill, unfortunately. Our next dish, the mussels, were too salty and we could not finish the broth due to its saltiness. (This has also been taken off the menu and I can’t quote the price.) I find that really strange because I’ve cooked mussels with bacon before and the bacon usually adds a nice level of saltiness to the dish. So it must have been they added more salt than they should have to this dish!
The rabbit pie was all right but nothing spectacular. As for the beef cheek, I anticipated it to pull away easily and melt in your mouth but I found it a little tough on the edges and dry. I did like how the parsnip chips add that delicate crunch.
These 2 dishes were also featured on Masterchef and we had high expectations. Did they match up to the high praise given by the Masterchef judges on TV? Well, out of the 2 dishes, I would say that the Mountain Goat Curry was the bigger letdown. I remembered 1 of the judges said how beautiful the curry tasted but to me, it lacked the usual spicy kick of the same curry served in an Indian restaurant. And to the Singaporean part of me, a curry has got to be ‘wet’ – meaning, lots of curry to spill over to your rice and dunk your bread/prata in! But the curry was almost like a smear on the board and the dish turned out really dry. The goat was also shredded into pieces which added on to the overall dry texture. And while the curry was too little, the goats cheese were given a tad too much, making the overall taste abit too strong for my liking. Perhaps the dish just need to balance out the proportion of the ingredients!
As for the pig trotters, it actually tasted like the Chinese Braised Soy Pig Trotters, but with a slight western twist. Perhaps for others, they would appreciate the creative twist to this dish but I guess for me and my Singaporean/Indonesian friends, we found this dish a little confusing. I did like the sweetbread but towards the end, the fattiness of the dish got too us and we actually struggled to finish it.
So I guess as you can tell, this meal did not quite meet up to our expectations, especially since it confused our Southeast Asian palates a little. So that goes to show that there can be a gap between the cooking reality TV show and reality itself, as our experiences turned out quite different to what the Aussie Masterchef judges found. And thinking about it, it could mostly be due to our differences in our palates – that goes to show how culture really plays a part in food tastes too!
But anyway, would that stop me from watching Masterchef? With the amount of cooking ideas and creativity displayed on the show, I highly doubt it! But I may be more careful in trusting the reviews of the judges on TV next time!