Alain Passard, Great Chefs Series, Launceston, Tasmania
The world’s No.1 chef (according to his peers) is cooking in little Launceston this week as part of remarkable series that is bringing some culinary greats to town.
By Katrina Lobley
Published: 28 March, 2017
He’s the chef that his Michelin-starred peers most admire – and in an extraordinary culinary coup, Alain Passard is coming to cook for a tiny Tasmanian city. Launceston has only 86,000 residents, but with its thriving gourmet scene and exquisite local produce, the town has attracted top culinary talents, including Passard, to cook a series of degustation dinners that will not only showcase the state’s incredible produce but help educate its next generation of chefs.
Launceston pulls off culinary coup
TasTAFE Drysdale, a tertiary education college in northern Tasmania, decided to dream big when it looked for guest chefs to teach its students. It set its sights on none other than Alain Passard of L’Arpege in Paris. With three Michelin stars, the restaurant was ranked No.19 on the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (the 2017 list will be announced in Melbourne on 5 April). As for Passard, last year he topped Le Chef magazine’s list of the world’s 100 best chefs, elected by his two- and three-starred peers.
Reportedly attracted by Tasmania’s excellent produce, Passard has agreed to take part in the college’s Great Chefs Series, in which some of the world’s biggest culinary names produce degustation dinners to teach and inspire Tasmania’s next generation of chefs. Passard kicks off the series – which takes place from March to August – with his arrival in Tasmania this week.
Passard’s haute approach to vegetables is well documented. Fresh produce from his three gardens is delivered to L’Arpege daily just in time for lunch and is famously known to never see the inside of a cold room. No doubt Passard will take a similar approach to the Tasmanian produce he will use in the three degustation meals he’ll be cooking: a five-course lunch at Josef Chromy (one of Tasmania’s finest vineyards), a private dinner at Peacock and Jones, and his pièce de résistance, a 10-course degustation dinner held at the college this Saturday, 1 April.
Courses will include beetroot sushi with geranium flowers and black olive; celery risotto with Huon salmon caviar; and Passard’s famed “bouquet of roses” apple tart. All three dining experiences are open to the public – but you’ll need to get in quickly, as tickets are almost sold out.
… But wait, there's more
Passard isn’t the only culinary mastermind coming to dinner. Dominique Crenn, crowned the world’s best female chef in 2016, will also cook a degustation for lucky diners and Tasmanian students. Crenn, who grew up in Brittany, runs Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, and like Passard, makes vegetables the stars of her menus. She must be doing something right – in 2012 Crenn became the first female chef in the US to earn two Michelin stars. The Michelin people still love her work, with the 2017 guide gushing that Crenn’s “talent with seafood is otherworldly”. In a fitting tribute to Tasmania’s produce, her 10-course menu will open and close with apple dishes: a sorbet and a tart (Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle because of its apple industry). In between, diners will be presented with everything from salt-baked turnip and seaweeds to blue mussels in curried coconut milk to a posh take on fish and chips that includes cured and smoked ocean trout, shaved foie gras, whipped yoghurt and a “chip” of fried potato strings. Ooh la la.
Series continues until August
TasTAFE’s extraordinary festival of culinary talent continues until August. Former Noma chef Christian Puglisi, who runs Copenhagen’s Relae, the world’s only certified organic Michelin-starred restaurant, will present a Tasmanian dinner as part of the Great Chefs Series. Six Australia-based chefs will also showcase their flair, including Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and Sydney’s Four in Hand) who will present a dinner in Launceston on 28 April; the legendary Jacques Reymond, who helms a Hobart dinner on 5 May; and Tasmania’s own David Moyle (from Franklin in Hobart), who will present a menu in Launceston on 12 May.
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