On 3 April, more than 340 hospitality professionals gathered at MAIA, Atlantic Wharf, for Estrella Damm’s first Australian Gastronomy Congress, with the theme ‘Approaching High Creativity’.
The event featured some of the world’s most recognised chefs preparing dishes from their restaurants and explaining their cooking philosophies, approaches to menu creation and their use of lesser known ingredients and techniques.
World number two chef Joan Roca from El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain appeared on-stage, as did Peruvian chef and restaurateur, Virgillio Martnez who was named number 1 chef in Latin America in 2016 and the number four on the World’s 50 Best list. Albert Adri from Tickets in Barcelona (ranked 29th) also shared his insights, and Australia’s Jock Zonfrillo from Restaurant Orana in Adelaide plated up his magpie goose, fermented native elderberries, smoked potato and leek dish while explaining how and why chefs should use more native Australian ingredients on their menus.
Earlier in the day, Sydney-based restaurateur Luke Mangan hosted the Past, Present, Future industry talk at Higher Ground on Little Collins Street, discussing the state of the hospitality industry and how it can improve staff retention.
“Hospitality is a tough business. It is long hours, hard work and weekends spent away from family and friends. If we don’t continue to help the young industry members to grow in our industry, we may not have anyone left,” Mangan said.
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He interviewed leading chefs and restaurateurs including world number one chef Massimo Bottura, from Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, as well as Newcastle-born chef Brett Graham, whose London restaurant The Ledbury, is currently sitting in 14th position. Daniel Humm from the number three Eleven Madison Park and Australia’s Peter Gilmore, executive chef at Quay, Sydney – which was last week announced number 95 in the World’s Top 51-100 list, also shared their thoughts on the challenges faced by aspiring hospitality professionals and how they can be overcome.
The chefs shared stories of their own personal struggles and sacrifices to an audience comprising food media, members of the public, fellow chefs and restaurateurs and 70 TAFE-Victoria students.
Post the Q&A panels, guests were served a curated menu created by Appetite for Excellence alumni including 2016 Young Australian Chef of the Year Aaron Ward plus Zackary Furst, Emma Shearer and Sonia Bandera.
The 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants will be announced at a gala event in Melbourne on 5 April.