A masterclass on Thursday morning saw two chefs demonstrating entirely different styles of cooking. Alain Solivérès's restaurant in France has two Michelin stars and his food is firmly rooted in the classics. Despite speaking only a little English, his refined elegant dishes spoke volumes; every vegetable was cut into perfect tiny dice and his rémoulade de tourteau was decorated with 96 minute dots of deep green parsley purée.
Soliveres was followed by Ryan Clift, a young chef who has been heralded as a bright light in the future of contemporary cooking. Clift was the head chef at Vu du Monde, arguably Australia's best restaurant, before leaving to set up Tippling Club in Singapore. Clift says that he is interested in "flavour matches, new cooking techniques and perfect pairings". He went on to add that: "I'm a chef, not a scientist. We use advanced technology but show respect for produce; we strive to preserve the nutrients and proteins in food." Tippling Club is renowned for its ultra-modern, avant garde menu, which he describes as "food, but not as you know it".
Because of this, Clift was quick to warn his audience that the dishes he was about to produce would be difficult to replicate at home, but said that he wanted to give "an insight into molecular gastronomy and the way that food and technology are evolving". He certainly did that, first creating a foie gras apple dish consisting of apple purée, apple chips, fois gras mousse, shards of apple that had been freeze-dried at -190¿C and a crisp gaufrette biscuit. Clift explained the thought process behind the dish: "Apple has a great synergy with the fat of the duck liver. Up until the 19th century fois gras was served as a dessert, which is why it works so often paired with fruit." He readily admitted that the recipe for the gaufrette biscuit was inspired by the legendary chef Michel Bras, and suggested making them at home and serving them traditionally with a cup of coffee.
Clift uses xanthan gum to stabilise the biscuit, but it is not essential and the recipe will still work without.
30g butter, softened
100g demerara sugar
50g egg whites
30g plain flour, seived 5g
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves; you don't want the sugar to caramelise, just the solids to melt. When the mixture resembles a paste, remove from the heat and tip into a Thermomix or blender.
Add the egg whites, flour and xanthan gum (if using) and blitz briefly until combined. Transfer to a piping bag and leave to rest for at least two hours or overnight if possible - you need to give the gluten in the flour time to relax.
Preheat the oven to 200¿C/fan180¿C/gas 6. Line a baking tray with parchment. Pipe lines of the mixture down the length of the parchment, then flatten with the back of a spoon so that you have a thin strip, approximately 5cm wide - the idea is to create a very delicate biscuit.
Transfer to the oven and cook for five minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up to create a swirl (see picture). Store in an airtight container and serve with coffee.