Behind the Scene – Melbourne Food Bloggers Dinner

Many thanks to Mister for taking these photos. He took about 2500 photos. There are many more to process and upload. I did the post production for the ones on my blog. Please head over to his blog for a more concise collection.

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This is a night that I remember for the rest of my life. It will be one of the proudest moments and also one to cherish for a very long time.

In my previous posts, I had mentioned that it took us about 3 months from planning to execution. The dish that I first made looked and tasted so different from the one on the night. The braised ox tongue was revamped many times over. Poor Mister had to put up with tongue every weekend. “Hunnie, try this? Nice?” “Errm, hunnie, how about this?” We had tongue salad, tacos, pasta and even with rice. There is only so much tongue that one can consume over a short period of time. Billy and myself even came to a point that we exchanged our dishes. It was a really big learning curve but so worth it.

Prep. Food preparation started on Sunday evening. Washing the tongue and trotters. Making stock. Chopping and peeling. And anxiously hoping that everything turns out the way I envisage it to be. But of course, things never turn out the way we want it. So I learn. I learnt to adapt. I learnt to make hard and fast decisions. I tried the best I could. We all did. There was no stopping. I kept going from morning till late into the night. I was on my feet for more than 12 hours. It was really hard work. All I wanted to do is to get out a good dish. The stress was mountainous. Failure is not an option.

“Slow cookers are too slow! I am going to be here till 5am!”
“Too much ginger. Dilute it with more olive oil and add seasoning”
“Billy, I can’t find the flavour”
“Ed… you need more gin!”
“I can’t find matching sage leaves!”

Rhythmic Chaos. When the kitchen was in full swing, it was chaotic. There was something exhilarating from the chaos. Knives chopping at top speed, stock reducing away in the corner, meats in the oven, deep frying action happening, dressing being tweaked…. I can’t explain the chaos but it felt right. This kitchen worked well because there were no egos. Every single person dig in and helped. All willingly. All happily. We all helped each other. At one point, we had about 10 people in the kitchen.

“Are we ready guys”
“The people are vrooming through the canapes”
“I’m slicing this tongue as fast as I can!”
“Where are the sides!”
“Let’s go guys. We need to push it out NOW”

Huge buzz. I can feel the goosebumps as I write. My hands are trembling still from that excitement that I had. It was GO GO GO… we did it. We all did it.

Miss Jackson. Sarah kept a tight ship. She had great leadership and very calm even when we freaked. She listened, she advise, we make our own decision and we executed. We have to thank our 2 kitchen hands – Alex and Ryan. I am not sure if I could have done it without them. Such great help! And Matt, what a gentle giant. Assertive but with reason. Shannon and Steve looking after the front of house. Setting up the place and making it comfortable and great looking for the night. It is hard work to set it up and making sure that the place looks slick. Great attention to details. It was perfect. The whole Miss Jackson team gave us lot the confidence that we can do it.

Punters. It was a Monday night and places sold out in 1.5 days. Massive, massive thank you for those that came, ate, drank and gave us all very kind compliments. When Mister showed us the crowd that gathered outside, I did freak slightly. OMG… this is for REAL! We are feeding paying punters. But I felt a great rush and so pumped. I just want to get the food out. Some familiar faces. All so supportive. I really hoped that everyone enjoyed the food. My apologies that I did not get the chance to go round every table. To be honest, I was freaking out about meeting the punters. If I am a real chef, I will be the one that slips out the back after a service. I am happy and contented knowing that the dish is well received.

The Team. And of course I have to thank Billy, Ed, Jess and Matt for being my partners in crime. To be game enough to join me in this crazy experience. I really appreciate the time and effort that everyone has put in. Some of us had to take time off work. We spent time after work practicing our dishes. We kicked ass! So big hugs and kisses to everyone. Love your work!

Respect. For the many awesome chefs and kitchens we love. Total respect. Doing this has made me realise the extreme hardwork and dedication required to run a good cafe and restaurant. Planning the menu, tasting the menu, plating, front of house, the people, wines, everything.. all the details. I’ve learnt so much in the 2 days of cooking than I would in a year.

To sum up how I felt about the whole night. Yes, the food was great. The drinks were free flowing. The atmosphere was awesome. And we even trended on twitter. It was a massive effort by everyone. We should be so proud of what we have achieved.  But the one thing that jumped up about the night was the kitchen harmony. We worked well together. It was joyous. The kitchen was humming. With so many people in there at one time, none of us was a hindrance. We were all invaluable individuals that worked as one. I am proud. Absolutely.

Will I do it again? Yes. In a heartbeat.

What others have said about it?