Gold medal for early Valentine’s day dinner


I don’t know who is doing their PR but everyone I have talked to has never heard of the International Culinary Olympics, which is a damn shame because I think most people would love to know about it.

The Culinary Olympics, Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung or IKA, are held in Erfurt, Germany and are considered one of the most prestigious international cooking contests. Just like the sporting Olympics they are held every four years, they have an opening ceremony, the lighting of the torch and have over 7,500 competing chefs (and that’s not counting their support staff) from over 45 nations.

As fundraising to get the elite chosen Australian team over there, they hold dinners in major cities, with Canberra being the first run of the menu they plan to take to Germany. It was so hard to get information about this dinner, I looked up the Australian Culinary Federation, National Press Club and just about the dinner in general and couldn’t find anything (really what’s up with their PR?). Lucky for me, Mr. Frugii was nice enough tweet me the order form for tickets.


The menu planned for the night!

Held at the National Press club, the dinner looked almost like a wedding reception. Everyone who is anyone in the hotel and culinary field in the ACT was there and then there was me and Timmy. 

The table is prepared for a three course dinner with matching wines and a tea or coffee to finish the night.


Lemon sole souffle, kipfler potato and fennel pollen crisp, apple cured and smoked Tasmanian salmon, cucumber, fennel, microcelery, baby leek and asparagus terrine, yuzu butter sauce, salmon roe.

The crisp was very salty which I didn’t mind because I ate it with the light sole souffle. I especially enjoyed the Tasmanian salmon which tasted so fresh and not too salty (I’m going to put it out there and say it’s the best salmon I’ve ever eaten). The yuzu butter sauce reminded me of a delicious light hollandaise with ‘bursts’ of roe. The most unique part for me was the terrine, there were so many fresh flavours hidden inside this quirky prism.


Pancetta wrapped Dorper lamb loin, milk poached kidney, sage mousse, compression of braised shoulder, tomato chutney, mint gremolata crusted sweet bread, wild mushroom polenta, beetroot glazed shallot, baby carrot, garden peas, broadbean, lamb jus

This was such a disappointment after following such a wonderful entree. The loin tasted like the smell of a butcher shop, which usually does make me hungry, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Although I’m not a fan of offal and I would avoid it if I could, I still tried the milk poached kidney, it sat on my tongue for two minutes before I politely hid it in my napkin. 

My sweet bread was under-cooked and therefore it was hard to ‘saw’ through so I just left it on the side of my plate. The rest of the dish was fine, I particularly liked the braised shoulder which was really tender, but it wasn’t anything special that you would expect at a world standard.


A stalker shot of the President of the Australian Culinary Federation (ACT) Mike Scheumann and the treasurer (WA) Peter Tischhauser. They came by later to talk to our table and had dessert with us. They explained that it takes approximately $350-$400,000 to send the Australian team over to Germany which includes flights for the chefs and the support staff, accommodation, sending the equipment and produce over. Timmy asked who has to deal with all the quarantine issues with sending produce overseas and Mike said someone else deals with all that stuff.

One of the major highlights for me that night was that I won an auction! *does a little happy dance* I have the privilege of having Neil Abrahams (head chef of the Royal Canberra Golf Club) and Paul Butler (head chef of the National Press Club) cooking  dinner for me at my house with the chef’s choice of menu accompanied by 6 red wines and 6 white wines from Serafino one of the sponsors.

I’ll definitely post about this during late Winter which is when it’ll be happening!


All the chefs were talking about a really talented new ‘up and coming’ pastry chef, she is apparently amazing to watch and makes everything look effortless. We weren’t able to see her in action, but what she made for dessert was just a-maz-ing!

Chocolate and raspberry bar, raspberry mousse, raspberry jelly, orange brulee, chocolate crispies, chocolate sponge, chocolate glacage, chocolate sable, rich chocolate pudding, strawberry macaron, strawberry gelato, berry salad.

The chocolate and raspberry bar was a delight for the senses, not only was it delicious, but it also had so many different textures- the mousse, jelly, sponge, crunchy base and the surprise of crispies throughout it. I love how the rich chocolate pudding was served warm which was a great contrast to the delectable strawberry macarons sandwiching the strawberry gelato (frozen using Frugii‘s state of the art equipment). The macarons were so popular with the table that a woman asked a chef if there were any more out the back. He came back out with a small container full and we were able to enjoy one more each.  It always pays to ask!


The hosts encouraged everyone to write what they thought of each course on the back of the menu, regardless whether they thought it was good or bad as all the comments help them refine their menu for Germany. One ingredient or architecture on the plate could mean the difference between gold and silver.

It’s no holiday for these chefs, after landing in Canberra late afternoon on the previous day, the Olympic team didn’t go to bed til past 1am and then were up and at em again by 6:30am cooking and cleaning for the rest of the day until we finished dinner (approximately 11pm). Hopefully all their hard work will pay off and their talents are acknowledged when they head to Germany later this year.