About a month ago I had been perusing the Sydney Morning Herald’s guide to Good Food Month. When I scanned through the “Pop-up Parties” page, my eye fell upon the “Secret Chef’s Table” event (a collaboration of OzHarvest Sydney and Lime&Tonic) and the description was the following:
“Come on a secret journey of discovery and meet an award winning chef and sommelier who will showcase locally sourced produce/wines in a unique warehouse space. Your dining experience will include a limo pick up from the CBD.”
The chef was a secret. The menu was a secret. The location was a secret. And anyone who knows me well knows I’m a sucker for a good mystery. I easily found a willing mate from work to attend with me, Brother Bear, and both of us were beside ourselves with excitement on the evening when we slid into the sleek Uber hired car before being whisked away into the quiet streets of Redfern.
I only had an address sent to me via email to get us there… and when the driver pulled up, it was with a little confusion when we exited the car and found ourselves in a seemingly-abandoned cul-de-sac. However we spotted a few friendly folks with OzHarvest t-shirts who confirmed that we were indeed in the right place before almost magically setting up a cocktail party around us in the middle of the street, complete with drinks to start and passing around canapes.
After numerous tasty mini cocktail burgers, smoked salmon cream cheese canapes, tandoori chicken vol-au-vents and a glass or two of Brown Brothers Prosecco, we became quite comfortable at the idea of remaining where we were for the rest of the night, but we were soon handed cards with clues as to where we could find our “Secret Chef’s Table” for the evening:
It was with intrigue, anticipation and great excitement when I read these instructions. Brother Bear and I followed the crowd to an inconspicuous building down the street from us, into the stairwell, up (what seemed like) a lot of stairs, and pushed open the door to find… a room that could only be described as breathtaking.
A soaring high-ceiling, chandelier, fairy lights, pink roses everywhere, white tablecloth, candles galore and a gorgeous view out the windows towards the Sydney CBD skyline – I feel light-headed with bliss just recounting the experience of first entering the room.
All drinks were included in the ticket price, and the generous open bar consisted of Santa Vittoria mineral water, Rekorderlig ciders and Brown Brothers wines. No asking for “tap, please” here! 😉
On top of all of this, we were treated to the dulcent tones of Daniel March throughout the night.
We were directed to our tables, and silly me always gets a bit over-excited when I see my name card at my seat.
I was even more excited when I read the menu and discovered that our chef for the evening was no other than Alessandro Pavoni from the two-hatted Ormeggio at the Spit. I couldn’t wait to tuck into the meal immediately, and tried not to touch the delectable bread and creamy butter too much for fear of spoiling my dinner despite all the canapes I had devoured already!
We were also seated quite close to the “kitchen” and it was quite an experience to see Alessandro at work and issuing instructions to the OzHarvest volunteers.
Our first course arrived very quickly, being the Potato Gnocchi, Osso Bucco, Gremolata.
A beautifully presented dish, it smelled incredible when it arrived at our table, and didn’t disappoint. Each bite of this dish literally melted on your tongue, with the richly-flavoured osso bucco rendering everyone at our table temporarily silent in appreciation. I mopped up the last of it with the rest of my gnocchi and was dearly sorry I was in company, otherwise I was considering picking up the plate to lick clean.
Moving onto our main – yet another perfectly cooked meat – the Melanda Park Suckling Pig, Cauliflower, Baby Carrots, Elk. I originally did a double-take when I saw “elk” then realised they meant the leafy mustard green rather than the animal!
Crunchy crackling, creamy cauliflower puree and suckling pig that gave way with ease under my fork. I was a happy girl and polished this dish off with ease as well.
Dessert was to be Mango, Olive Oil, Sheeps’ Yoghurt, and while we waited we were offered around a beautifully fragrant dessert wine that was matched with our dessert, the Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora. This had to be the nicest, most delectably perfumed wine I’ve ever tasted.
The dessert was one of the more interesting combinations I’ve ever sampled – ripe mango, whipped sheeps’ yoghurt, a distinct tang of olive oil, a crunch of crumble and finely chopped pieces of ginger. I’ve never quite had anything like it, and enjoyed it considerably paired with the orange muscat dessert wine.
But… as they all say, all good things always come to an end. Keeping in mind that we had work the next morning, we bid our newly-made friends at our table goodbye before heading to the door and were thanked for our attendance by the OzHarvest crew before being gifted a long-stemmed Roses Only red rose and mini bottle of Brown Brothers Sauvignon Blanc-Moscato.
I can say, without hesitation, that this night was one of the best dining experiences of my life. And with the proceeds from the evening supporting OzHarvest Sydney, how could you possibly go wrong? I dearly hope that this event is held again next year, and the year after that…
Photography by Popcorn Romance and Confessions of a Glutton