Executive Chefs Club, a meeting of foodie minds

Gracious host: Oswin Ribeiro, Executive Chef of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

Gracious host: Oswin Ribeiro, Executive Chef of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

What do chefs, gourmet providores and foodies talk about at the dining table? You should think the last thing on their minds would be food seeing they work with food all day.

I am attending the Executive Chefs Club meeting organised by Mel Nathan, Publishing Editor of Food Companion International and hosted by Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney’s CBD.

It is a gathering of executive chefs, food and hospitality professionals, providores, food farmers and growers.

“We have a very exciting agenda”, Mel tells me. “A lively chef’s table will include discussions about fresh oysters from various oyster farming regions in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania”, she adds with an enthusiastic cheer.

Campaign to minimise food wastage

Campaign to minimise food wastage

Upon arrival, I notice a campaign to minimise food wastage by the New South Wales government on Environment, Climate Change & Water is also on the cards. This is a great initiative to educate food, beverage and hospitality professionals about ways to minimise food wastage and achieve better yields in food preparation and presentation at the same time.

EDIT: 

Wise Up on Waste is part of a Unilever Food Solutions initiative that addresses food wastage, malnutrition, poverty, water scarcity and climate change. The organisation has conducted research into food waste and some hard truths about waste in the hospitality industry include:

  • New South Wales households throw away more than $2.5 billion worth of edible food every year;
  • 65% of food waste occurs in the restaurant kitchen;
  • 30% of food is left on the plate;
  • An estimated 600,000 tonnes of food waste generated by the hospitality industry globally;
  • An estimated 400,000 tonnes of food waste could be avoided and could have been consumed had it been better portioned, better managed and better prepared.
Campaign to minimise food wastage

Campaign to minimise food wastage

It is a sad truth there are a billion hungry people in the world and all of them could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that people in the developed world throw away into their bins. Yet, over half the food produced in the world today is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiencies in managing the food production chain.

It is indeed a sober reminder for consumers to be more vigilant in avoiding food wastage.

The Executive Chefs Club reception at Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

The Executive Chefs Club reception at Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

It is apt the Executive Chefs Club meeting starts with a briefing by Mark Bulley from Hasting River Oysters about sustainable oyster farming and harvesting techniques as well as how to shuck and eat fresh oysters.

Attendees given a brief on oyster farming and harvesting

Attendees given a brief on oyster farming and harvesting

Being a seafood mecca, Sydney is a paradise for seafood lovers.

And if you love oysters, you will be thrilled to know there are at least thirty major oyster farms dotted all along the New South Wales coastline, farming and harvesting millions tonnes of oysters each year.

This does not take into account some of the smaller farms in the region.

Unshucked Hasting River oysters

Unshucked Hasting River oysters

Mark Bulley from Hastings River Oysters briefing attendees about oyster facts and myths

Mark Bulley from Hastings River Oysters briefing attendees about oyster facts and myths

Oyster farms along the New South Wales coastline

Oyster farms along the New South Wales coastline

I have seen fresh oysters being farmed and harvested at Barrilla Bay in Tasmania and to this day, I can still remember how fresh and delicious they taste.

Tasmania's oyster farming regions

Tasmania's oyster farming regions

Apart from Sydney Rock oysters which have a more intense flavour, I also love the Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia.

Unlike the Sydney Rock which is smaller and yellowish, each Coffin Bay oyster is plump and fat in appearance with its creamy texture that lingers in the mouth.

South Australia's oyster farms

South Australia's oyster farms

Freshly shucked oysters from Hasting River in NSW's north coast

Freshly shucked oysters from Hasting River in NSW's north coast

The fresh oysters from Hasting River are creamy and briny with the distinctive taste of the sea. They are simply delicious and irresistable with a dash of Tobasco and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Full flavour ~ Boston's Mill Pale Ale

Full flavour ~ Boston's Mill Pale Ale

I love oysters with a crisp and dry riesling. In a casual chat with Mark Bulley, he tells me the oysters are also great when washed down with a full flavoured beer.

John Boston Premium Lager

John Boston Premium Lager

I could not agree with him more as I sample an icy cold John Boston Premium Lager with my oysters.

Good mates ~ Mark Bulley with Kevin McAsh, Chair of NSW Oysters Growers Association

Good mates ~ Mark Bulley with Kevin McAsh, Chair of NSW Oysters Growers Association

Kevin McAsh, chairman of the NSW Growers Association Oyster Committee seems to be in full concurrence with Mark Bulley where a beer in one hand and an oyster in the other seem to be the only way to go.

Tools of the trade for shucking fresh oysters

Tools of the trade for shucking fresh oysters

I always admire the deft skill of the oyster shucker using just a small knife to shuck fresh oysters faster than I can eat them.

Arguably Australia's best - Crystal Bay prawns from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland

Arguably Australia's best - Crystal Bay prawns from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland

The cooked Crystal Bay tiger prawns from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland must some of the best natural tasting prawns that never ceases to impress no matter how much I have eaten.

Thanks to seafood providores all over Sydney, these prawns are now readily available in many local seafood shops, supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths and last but not least the famous Sydney Fish Markets.

Curtis York and Michael York, Chairman & Vice President Business Development respectively, Quittin' Time

Curtis York and Michael York, Chairman & Vice President Business Development respectively, Quittin' Time

Not to be outdone by their food counterparts, Curtis York and Michael York from Quittin’ Time are on hand to give attendees a taste of a variety of aged rums.

Curtis used to be an IT professional who made a 180 degree change in his career and has never looked back in starting up a company that distributes niche products.

El Dorado Aged Rum

El Dorado Aged Rum

Caroni Rum from Trinidad & Tobago

Caroni Rum from Trinidad & Tobago

Curtis York explaining the finer points of an El Dorado aged rum

Curtis York explaining the finer points of an El Dorado aged rum

I take a swig of the El Dorado 12-year old rum and it immediately reeks cinnamon and tropical fruit aromas with hints of smoky honey with a lingering dry finish.

I can certainly sip on this while watching my favourite sports channel on TV.

Carl Middleton (Exec Chef, Sydney Hilton) and Gary Johnson (Coles Hotels)

Carl Middleton (Exec Chef, Sydney Hilton) and Gary Johnson (Coles Hotels)

The Executive Chefs Club gathering is also a good forum for chefs and hospitality professionals to take a couple of hours off their busy schedule to network and catch up with industry colleagues.

With the flow of food and drinks, new ideas can often flow out into the open as well.

Martin Koestlin, former Exec Chef ACER ARENA with Mark Wright, Exec Chef ACER ARENA

Martin Koestlin, former Exec Chef ACER ARENA with Mark Wright, Exec Chef ACER ARENA

Paul Gruar, Rational Exec Chef

Paul Gruar, Rational Exec Chef

Paul Gruar (Rational Exec Chef) and Marcus Perket (Manly Golf Club)

Paul Gruar (Rational Exec Chef) and Marcus Perket (Manly Golf Club)

Ricky Dresser (ACF, New South Wales) and Mark Bayliss (Unilever Food Solutions)

Ricky Dresser (ACF, New South Wales) and Mark Bayliss (Unilever Food Solutions)

Richard Kalina of Blue Mountains Berries Pty Ltd

Richard Kalina of Blue Mountains Berries Pty Ltd

Richard Kalina from the Blue Mountains and specialist grower of organic berries and vegetables gives a briefing about mountain strawberries, blackberries and gourmet vegetables.

The mountain strawberries are a lot smaller than regular strawberries but they have a sweet intense flavour. I can think of at least a dozen salad or dessert recipes that would come to life with these wonderful organic products.

Mel Nathan, Publishing Editor of Food Companion International

Mel Nathan, Publishing Editor of Food Companion International

Mel Nathan of Food Companion International is the brains behind organising a group of passionate and like-minded foodies.

She regularly interviews and features executive chefs about their menu, favourite ingredients and latest trends in the food industry.

Oswin Ribeiro and Mel Nathan briefing attendees

Oswin Ribeiro and Mel Nathan briefing attendees

She joins Oswin Ribeiro, Executive Chef of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel  in Sydney to address attendees about fresh and organic ingredients.

Anne-Marie Poirrier (Environment, Climate Change & Water, NSW) and Debbie Thomson (National Manager, Oppenheimer Pty Ltd)

Anne-Marie Poirrier (Environment, Climate Change & Water, NSW) and Debbie Thomson (National Manager, Oppenheimer Pty Ltd)

Professional chef knives from Victorinox

Professional chef knives from Victorinox

Professional chef knives from Victorinox

Professional chef knives from Victorinox

On display is wide array of kitchen knives ranging from small pairing knives to a range of professional chef selections.

"Don't mess with me, I've got a knife!" - Debbie Thomson explaining features of Victorinox kitchen knives

"Don't mess with me, I've got a knife!" - Debbie Thomson explaining features of Victorinox kitchen knives

Debbie Thomson, the National Manager for professional equipment at Oppenheimer Pty Ltd who is a distributor of food ingredients, tools and equipment, demonstrates a range of Victorinox knives to attendees.

Sue Devlin of Blue Harvest with some Crystal Bay tiger prawns

Sue Devlin of Blue Harvest with some Crystal Bay tiger prawns

A chat with Sue Devlin from Blue Harvest seems to make my prawns taste more delicious. Friendly, passionate and informed, Sue has no doubt the Crystal Bay tiger prawns are quite possibly the best prawns that Australia can produce.

Pristine waters and top quality feeds seem to be the essentials of a succulent, sweet and juicy taste to these prawns.

Sweet, succulent and juicy ~ Crystal Bay tiger prawns from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland

Sweet, succulent and juicy ~ Crystal Bay tiger prawns from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland

Special thanks go to Mel Nathan, Publishing Editor of Food Companion International for putting this event together in conjunction with host chef Oswin Ribeiro, Executive Chef of Radisson Blue Plaza Hotel in Sydney.

It is certainly a meeting of foodie minds!

So dear readers, do you have a favourite oyster or fresh ingredient that you love cooking with and do you have any tips on how to minimise food wastage?

ChopinandMysaucepan attended the Executive Chefs Cub meeting as a guest of Food Companion International.


NSW Farmers – Oyster Committee
Level 25, 66 Goulburn street
Sydney 2000
New South Wales, Australia
Member Service Centre 1300 794 000

Quittin’ Time
66 Parthenia street
Dolans Bay 2229
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9525 8668

Oppenheimmer
5/107 Carnarvon street,
Silverwater 2218
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9748 3111

Blue Harvest
Suite 16, 38 Ricketty street
Mascot 2020
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9234 1000

Unilever Food Solutions

20 -22 Cambridge street
Epping 2121
New South Wales, Australia
Food Service Careline Toll free: 1800 888 695

Environment, Climate Change & Water (NSW Government)
Head Office
Level 14, 59-61 Goulburn street, Sydney
PO  Box A290, Sydney South 1232
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9995 5000

Raddison Blu Plaza Hotel
27 O’Connell street
Sydney 2000
New South Wales, Australia
Tel: +61 2 8214 0381

Food Companion International
Level 9, Park House
187 Macquarie street
Sydney 2000
New South Wales, Australia

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25 Responses to Executive Chefs Club, a meeting of foodie minds

  1. I love fresh oysters! We used to get them from Hog Island Oysters in San Francisco:

    http://www.houseofannie.com/hog-island-oyster-san-francisco/

    My favorites were the Kumamotos. Excellent, succulent, and delectable.

  2. Look at all of that delicious food! I love prawns and oysters so this made me very hungry :)

  3. Hotly Spiced says:

    Oysters and beer? Around here it’s very much oysters and champagne! What a great day you must have had and wonderful to come away with so much knowledge of the food industry xx

  4. mm I quite like crystal bay prawns & coffin bay oysters

  5. Winston says:

    I love oysters. And I LOVE Beer. But I’ve never thought of having both of them together, woo hoo! Hey, I like how you’re always getting invited to all these cool foodie events, they’re really great to read about. And also, those statistics are quite shocking, I had no idea! Thanks for shedding some light on this matter

  6. My husband could live on oysters and no better way than down the hatch. He’ll eat them any way prepared but he’d much prefer them right out of the shell.

    I try really hard not to waste food. I make a clean the fridge soup and a clean the fridge salad at least once a week. If there is a time that I just can’t use something, it goes in the canal out back to feed the fish or to catch crabs.

  7. A really interesting read! Food wastage is something I am passionate about reducing in my home so good to see the education getting out there.

  8. I wish I could say “I love oysters”.. But I can’t :( Beer on the other hand, gets my votes!!

  9. I am just drooling over those oyster pictures. Delicious and good to hear they can be sustainable as well.

  10. Carolyn Jung says:

    It is amazing how much food goes to waste worldwide. Very sad, indeed. Let’s hope no one is wasting these gorgeous oysters. That would be a true crime.

  11. My husband will be very happy joining this event with lots of oysters! I don’t eat oysters (I know… I don’t like it from I was born haha). I have never attended food related event like this. Must be fun when all the guests love food – I guess everyone talk about food, right? =) I hate to see food going to waste, too. :-(

  12. I love oysters, and am a bit of an oyster snob. I am particularly partial to Sydney rocks, but from the South coast of NSW not the North. Trust me they taste totally different, is the water.

  13. Ann says:

    Oooh, it looks like you had fun! I’m always amazed watching my oldest son shuck oysters – he’s really quick!

  14. Kimby says:

    That fresh seafood looks fantastic! Very interesting “behind the scenes” look at the food industry and it’s concerns, too.

    I minimize food waste by scaling down recipes to an amount that my husband & I can reasonably eat at one meal. If there are leftovers, I get creative and incorporate them into something “new” — we seldom eat the same meal twice. (Basically, I’m always thinking ahead — what can I make out of this next?) Also, I buy items in bulk (for example, a special on a cut of meat) and re-package it for the freezer into multiple “two adult-sized portions,” then simmer the trimmings for broth, soup or stew. I know these are just small things, but they add up to big savings and less waste. And if I’ve made too much, we share! There’s always someone who appreciates having a hot meal delivered, or being invited to dine with us.

  15. Sissi says:

    I wouldn’t even dream of attending such a wonderful meeting! Such a choice of seafood would make my head turn. I cannot take my eyes off the oysters…

  16. What a fabulous day. How great to be able to try all those different oysters. And meet all the food producers. GG

  17. sophia says:

    I would feel cheated if I sat with a group of chefs and they talked about everything but food! I love it when chefs talk food with each other…it just shows how passionate they are about what they do!

    Aaah I loooove oysters! I love them any way except fried (why kill such a beautiful raw product?).

  18. msihua says:

    Funny how I just posted something similar on sustainability! I LOVE OYSTERS!! Such a lucky thing you :)

  19. I love fresh oysters! and with wine – talk about a win win situation!

  20. Celia says:

    I adore oysters, and Mark Bulley is one of the good guys in the industry!

  21. Juliana says:

    Oh! All the oysters and the prawns…they look delicious…I am a big fan of oysters, especially raw. Great pictures…and thanks for sharing all this yummie seafood.
    Hope you have a great week ahead :)

  22. Oysters are something very special to me, they bring back very strong and happy memories of my childhood. I would be in absolute heaven if I could attend a dinner such as this. Seafood is my life! Great post Chopinand.

  23. Wow, I had no idea so much food is wasted in the kitchen! :( It always hurts in my heart to throw food away, so I try to only buy what I know I will really eat.

  24. Row says:

    Lovely-looking prawns and oysters!

    I try to buy smaller amounts of food more frequently, so I don’t have as much sitting in the fridge for long periods of time. I also try to find recipes that use the same ingredient. For example, if I buy some stewing beef, I’ll try to find a couple of recipes that use it and make those recipes in the same week. Thus, the ingredient gets used up faster.

  25. It is also able to respond quickly to a honing rod should you need it to.
    The most essential knives are peeling knife, paring knife for slicing fruits and vegetables,
    utility knife for general peeling, slicing, and carving, and cooks knife for chopping and dicing, and bread knife.
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