This year I had the honour of participating in Buy West Eat Best’s fabulous ‘Celebrity Signature Dish’ competition.
The idea is to get a W.A Chef to mentor a home grown W.A celebrity through a dish from one of our exciting food producing regions. Of course I got to represent the Swan Valley and even better I got to mentor Justin Langer. Now I’m no card-carrying cricket die hard, but even I’ve heard of Justin so that was pretty exciting and nerve wracking.
Picking Herbs with Justin
First things first, we had to put Justin through his paces, to see what we were dealing with. Suffice to say he became head herb picker very quickly, I hear he’s a great batsman though 😉
All jokes aside, Justin was a dream to work with, so friendly and had all the time in the world to meet with our local producers, sign lots of cricket paraphernalia and goof around with me at the WACA (my first time there, eek, how embarrassing / unaustralian).
So we had our region but It was reasonably tricky to decide on a specific dish, we have so many producers in the Swan Valley and Surrounds that it was hard not to try and include them all!
Having a go with Swan Valley Produce
We decided to champion some juicy Nalyeening Yabbies from the Gidgegannup region which we matched with Windy Creek Verdelho, Goats cheese from Caprino Goat Farm, garlic + zucchini from Jane Brook Fresh and a homemade pasta from Justin’s old boss at the WACA Tony Mann and his wife Lynn Mann. Both stalwarts of the Swan Valley so I thought that was most appropriate.
Now I have to admit I did think that Justin was going to be a big meat eating, beer swilling stereotypical cricketer, wanting to cook up a massive steak or burger. Thankfully that was not at all the case, so my original ‘Surf + Turf’ idea was quickly canned (thank god) for a much lighter and sustainable Yabbie Tail Pasta.
We made a creamy white wine sauce but replaced the normal dairy cream with goats curd. Goats curd is a whole lot less irritable on the stomach if you are allergic to dairy or staying away from high fat milk products, plus it’s super tasty! If you are gluten free this recipe would work with zucchini or sweet potato noodles too.
So we’d done our training and had a few strategy meetings, Justin got to work in a commercial kitchen and I got to see a training session with the Perth Scorchers and all of a sudden the competition day was upon us and our competitors were tough!
Fred Flintstone Beef Shin Win! 🙁
Pete Manifis (Paaion Meets Purveyor) had brought along beautiful barramundi wings from the Kimberley region, Kenny Mchardy (Manuka Woodfire Kitchen) brought massive Fred Flinstone sized beef shins and a weber and finally Ollie Goulding (The Shorehouse) had some stunning Marron from the Great Southern. The brief was to keep it simple but I think I was the only one to get that memo, lol 😉 The event was great and it’s always a fantastic day when you get to cook with your favourite Perth Chefs and I certainly learned a lot, as this was my first cooking competition. But alas a win was not for us on this day, the Fred Flinstone beef shins took out first place for 2017’s Celebrity Signature Dish, then the barra wings and finally the marron and yabbies tied for third place.
I’m now preparing for a bigger and better competition next year where the Swan Valley will reign supreme!! Take no prisoners!
Next stop from here, The Gascoyne Food Festival in Carnarvon August 8-12 where I’ll be preparing a vegetarian dish from the magnificent plantation country along with 6 other passionate and proud West Australian Chefs. Hope to see you there!