Sunday, May 01, 2005

Robert Maklowicz and Australian cuisine

It seems there's never enough time these days. Too much to do, too many decisions as to the highest and best use of our precious 1080 minutes each day (I deducted 6 hours for those minor irritations of eating, sleeping and other non-productive activities).

But let me look back on the last month from this vantage point:

Four weeks ago I was asked to give a celebrity chef from Poland, Robert Maklowicz, an insight into Australian cuisine and so I took him on a tour of Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens (notice that's botanic as in manic not botanical or maniacal, although I have been described as botanically manic on occasion). While at the RBG, we met up with Clarence Slockee who works at the Gardens as part of the Indigenous Education program, teaching visitors and particularly schoolies all about Aboriginal concepts of the interactions of plants and people.

Clarence Slockee

It is a great shame that we do not have traditions of this relationship with our country. It would go a long way to solving many environmental challenges we have and provide a huge number of opportunities for land holders to offer locally indigenous produce and then develop a true regionally local cuisine. It may yet happen in time even if to a much lesser degree than once was possible.


The scheduled next stop was postponed as the skies opened up and it began to pour down. We high tailed it to the Fish Markets and Robert set up in front of Peters Seafood and cooked up some prawns in a Thai style chilli sauce as a reflection of the Asian fusion influence in our cuisine.

The sky cleared (no, I don't have direct links up there but I am often amazed at the luck I have with the weather during events such as these) and from the Fish Markets, we moved to that promontory at the Rocks which looks out to what was once the perfect campsite but is now occupied by the Opera House. At least it is a useful tourism icon as so few Australians actually go there for concerts etc. We also had views up to the Harbour Bridge and commented on the line of human ants constantly scaling the walkways to the top. From where we stood, you could almost hear the cash registers ringing at $100 a pop.

Robert Maklowicz and Vic Cherikoff

But back on solid ground, Robert and I cooked up some barramundi in paperbark, we re-created a windswept Sydney Salad and I rolled out one of my Wattleseed pavlovas. They were pretty standard dishes I know, but still completely new to Robert's TV audience of 4 million each week who watch his cooking show across Poland. It was obviously very effective though, as we now have already had inquiries to hold one of our Dining Downunder, Australian Cuisine Promotions in Warsaw.

Robert Maklowicz is a mega star in Poland and recognised as an authority on good food and good eating. He's actually a food historian who cooks, I suppose not unlike myself (a scientist who cooks) and he found the slow development of our amazing flavours somewhat bemusing. Certainly, the flavours themselves impressed him and his whole crew of foodies too. Ingredients which stood out for him were paparbark, Wattleseed and Oz Lemon - my intense and versatile lemon myrtle mix. I even made Robert and a few of his crew an Oz Lemon tea as they were suffering from traveler's throat, probably aggravated by the air conditioning in the hotel rooms. The citral in the lemon myrtle in Oz lemon cleared up any problems as it generally does and the other components kept them buzzing the rest of the day.

The visit to Australia to film episodes for the “Culinary Journeys of Robert Maklowicz” has been supported by Austrade, Tourism Australia, Business ACT, Tourism Western Australia and of course, Cherikoff Rare Spices.

I'll post a copy of the episode when it arrives so watch this space - or better still, subscribe here to be notified by email. Alternatively, remember you can subscribe to this newsfeed by pasting either of the following links into the appropriate RSS Reader (for more on RSS have a look at this great site or check out the simple introduction to using RSS technology here).

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