View :: Taste of Young Sydney
June 8th 2011
Nick La Rosa
Photo Credit :: Maja Baska
Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal would tell you to do all kinds of funny things to get an experience out of dinner.
The British food-wizard believes food has incredible nostalgic powers and because of that he uses art to complete the experience of his dishes. Heston recently served a dish he called 'Sound of the Sea', which initially just looks like seashells and sand served a top of a wooden box. It’s accompanied by a conch with some earphones sneaking out like curious eels. So you put the little eel heads in your ears and the sand into your mouth; you get the taste of a mixture of tapioca, fried breadcrumbs, crushed fried baby eels, cod liver oil and langoustine oil topped with abalone, razor clams, shrimps and oysters and three kinds of edible seaweed, and you get the sound of a fleet of crashing waves on a seagully shore.
Food tends to get ignored in artistic collaborations, which I find odd because it’s the only art form for your mouth. I've always wanted art to give me a totally sensual experience but no artists were telling me to eat and no chefs were telling me to listen. Enter Taste of Young Sydney, the next generation of Sydney taste-makers. These chefs, sommeliers and front-of-house fanatics are designing dinners that trick up the fine dining experience for a new generation.
The collective program themed evenings in Sydney and Melbourne that showcase their mad culinary skills. The dinners usually celebrate a certain ingredient or form, and everything from service to side-dishes are incorporated therein. Music is an important part of that experience. “Music was always something that was important to the way we create events, and in conveying a concept or theme to its fullest extent,” food writer and TOYS member Melissa Leong explains.
TOYS member and ex-Tetsuya cook Darren Robertson and his foodie friends have been experimenting with music and food. “As part of a water-themed dinner in Melbourne, I served a dish called 'Bird Bath' using nuts, seeds, stalks and berries," Darren told me. "As the dish went to the table we played Marie Poppins 'Feed The Birds' and then 'Splish Splash' by Bobby Darin. It's a really powerful tool.” I asked Darren if he thought restaurants were let down by a stereotype of generic soft music.“No, there are so many restaurants doing their thing," he answered. "The idea that good food should always go with soft background music has thankfully gone out of the window.”
Dan Hong and Morgan McGlone are experimenting with hip hop as a side dish. Hong dubbed his fried-chicken and foie gras match the “life of Biggie Smalls on a plate”. Other TOYS members confessed some of their inseparable food and music loves. For Yu-ching Lee, “lately, it's been a combination of Florence and the Machine, and chocolate chip cookies.” For Darren Robertson, its “Dire Straits and crab flavoured fish sticks. As random as that sounds we always had Dire Straits or Bowie on in the house growing up and as a treat we were given crab sticks (which is probably the closest I came to eating seafood as a kid). I tried one last week at the fish market, which was deep fried, and no music…wasn't quite the same!”
What: Taste of Young Sydney