Oceanafest – Opening Day

Oceanafest has been running since 1997 and is regarded as Australia’s premier hot kitchen cooking competition. It is run every two years, alongside the “Fine Foods” hospitality Expo at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The competition encompasses a wide range of hospitality professionals; Chefs, Cooks, Pastry Chefs, Apprentices, Armed Forces Personnel, Industrial Caterers, Training Providers and Home Cake Decorators. There are both individual and team chef events. The “Global Chef” comp has chefs competing from many countries including Fiji and NZ for the title. In the group event, there are teams from Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany and Singapore competing alongside the Australian team. There are also a few local teams such as the Pan Pacific and the WA team. They are all vying for the title of “Restaurant of Champions”.

The “Restaurant of Champions” event involves teams of 5 chefs having to create a 3 course menu. They have five hours in which they have to prep, and then serve the dishes, for 80 people. Chefs day started at 4.30am. By the end of service he would be shattered! The judges fly in from all around the world and scrutinise the very tiniest of details, nothing would get past them. They are judged on everything from technique to flavour and presentation. Even the way that they work in the kitchen is critiqued – if there is too much mess they have points deducted. If there is too much in their bins they get points deducted for wastage.

The teams competing on day one were the Pan Pacific Hotel, The Western Australian team and Thailand’s national team. I was lucky to be seated at the WA Team table and what a treat that was.

Entrée – West Australian Scallops, pea textures, black pudding puree, bacon & curried sweetbreads

Any dish with scallops is always a winner for me. The entree was very pretty too; Garnished with Salmon roe, Smoked white fish roe and Pea tendrils. All the components (and there were a lot) worked well together. The peas came in a “green pea powder” form and also a puree. The sweetbreads were delish in a crispy panko crumb. But for me, the hero of the dish was the black pudding puree. I have to admit, usually I’m not a huge fan of “blood puddings”, but on this occasion I could have licked it off the plate!! Delish!

Main – Mint Gremolata Crusted Lamb Roulade, Braised Lamb shoulder, Semolina gnocchi with butternut pumpkin puree, red wine shallot, baby carrots, brussel sprout wedges and red wine jus.

This was a stunner. The Lamb roulade was beautifully cooked and rolled with a creamy chicken mousse. The lamb shoulder was braised in red wine and was so full of flavour – yummy! The semolina gnocchi was a nice accompaniment to the rich meats and was well seasoned and the pecorino cheese really subtle, but tasty. The veg was cooked to perfection. I even could have eaten more BRUSSEL SPROUTS!! Really!!

Dessert – Raspberry Coconut Slice, Peach Tea Macaroon, White Chocolate Panna cotta, Lemon Curd, Peach Sorbet, Peach and Berry Salad

All the components of the dessert worked really well together. As a whole, it was really flavoursome. The raspberry coconut slice was fluffy and light. All the peach components were lovely. The lemon curd gave it a little kick. My favourite part of the dish was the white chocolate panna cotta, what a combo! The luxuriously silky texture was fantastic. A great finish to a fab lunch. Now just to cross our fingers and toes and hope team WA did well with those eagle-eyed judges!!