Grant Allen: At the cutting edge (+recipe)

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Some of the world’s top chefs jetted into Melbourne to impart their wisdom, and Grant Allen was there.

Chef Shane Delia has broken the mould in presenting traditional food. Photo / Daniel Mahon
Chef Shane Delia has broken the mould in presenting traditional food. Photo / Daniel Mahon

A few weeks ago, I zoomed into Melbourne to attend part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Melbourne is a real food hub. It has had significant Italian and Greek immigrant populations arrive in the past, introducing their eating and food cultures. More recently, Middle Eastern and Asian "new Australians" are in the mix and the city is a "stock pot" of global food. Their food is not necessarily presented in a traditional way.

What a "new" country like Australia allows is the interpretation of old-world cuisines, in a new style. There is no grandmother standing over their shoulders to say "we don't do it that way".

The master classes I attended at the festival featured some "new Australians" as well as ground-breaking chefs from all over the world. I was jolted into the cutting-edge of cuisine. This column is more a report than a recipe file, as the food most of these chefs are making does not relate to the home kitchen. But as these chefs run Michelin-starred restaurants, their recipes do indicate wider food trends.

So, who impressed? Juan Luis Fernandez from Spain, Rodolfo Guzman from Chile and Shane Delia from Melbourne's Maha restaurant. With Maltese heritage and a large, extended family intent on keeping up tradition, Delia has broken the mould in the way he prepares and presents food from his family's past. He talked about staying true to tradition in ingredients and cooking methods as well as the "feeling" of the food, but his presentation was totally modern.

He's a huge exponent of his origins, trying to evoke the atmosphere of the countries he cooks from, but his results are certainly not food like his grandmother would have made.
He presented two dishes, one of which is shared here. The other recipe for Turkish Tea Smoked Duck, Black Sea Salad, Hazelnuts and Corn Bread I will post on my Facebook page. These recipes are possible to replicate at home, but for an authentic experience you may have to go to his restaurant in Melbourne.

Recipe: Carrot and Cardamom Cured Salmon

Top flight food

• Qantas business and first-class passengers can choose from menus created by chef Neil Perry in-flight and throughout Qantas Business and First Lounges. Along with matching wines, the autumn menu includes heirloom tomato salad, duck leg confit and Black Angus minute steak. In Economy class, passengers enjoy menus with a great range of hot options, refreshments and seasonal fruit and cheese.

• Designed by Marc Newson, Qantas International First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne have day spas, restaurants, libraries, private work suites and concierge service.

• Qantas has frequent and conveniently timed flights from Auckland to Melbourne. Food, entertainment and baggage are included with every flight. See more at

Grant Allen travelled to Melbourne courtesy of Tourism Victoria and Qantas.

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- Herald on Sunday

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