Masterchef Australia is well into their 4th season and it’s a wonder why they took so long to come up with the concept of a pop-up restaurant. The Masterchef pop-up restaurant opened its doors last week outside St Mary’s Cathedral featuring different past Masterchef contestants and celebrity chefs cooking up a storm each night. It’s sponsored by American Express and supports OzHarvest, a charity that rescues food which would otherwise be discarded. I’m really excited to eat tonight given that I am a huge Masterchef fan and also knowing that my dollars are going to a good cause.
I attended the restaurant on Saturday 7th July which featured Masterchef contestant Hayden Quinn (Series 3) and Martin Boetz (head chef of Longrain). The restaurant looks like a giant tent with big glass doors and an earthy atmosphere thanks to the many plants dotting the room. It also features a bar downstairs (no bookings required) and dining upstairs, but unfortunately tickets for all the nights are now sold out. When we arrived, we were promptly seated and our celebrity guests were introduced. They chatted to us about the concept and menu, which featured a range of entrees, mains and desserts designed by the celebrity chefs.
Lobster bisque with scallops – by Hayden Quinn
To start the night, we choose the two entrees made by tonight’s guests. The lobster bisque is served with a small lobster fillet, scallop and fish roe. I’m not an overall fan of the bisque itself and find it way too lobstery, but the seafood was soft and succulent. The fish roe also added an interesting textural element to the bisque.
Eggnet filled with pork, prawns, peanuts and caramelised coconut with a cucumber relish – by Martin Boetz
Next up is an Asian-style salad by Martin Boetz. The first thing I try is the side of pickled vegetables, which are very refreshing. I’m not a fan of the chunks of ginger in there but the cucumbers were quickly eaten up by yours truly. The eggnet covering was thin and fluffy. Hidden underneath was an assortment of bean sprouts, coriander, nuts, chilli and pork. It had a beautiful Thai vinaigrette tossed through it and was a lovely light entree to start with, as well as being quite a generous serving!
Seared duck breast with Aigre-douce sauce – by Justin Schofield
Onto the mains! These were not designed by tonight’s guests but were cooked by the dozens of assistant chefs hidden in the kitchen. The duck was accompanied with an assortment of baby vegetables, puree and an onion with a puff pastry. This onion added an interesting touch and was delicious with the pastry; however, the other vegetables were medium cooked and could have been a bit softer. Our duck breast was sliced into thick pieces and was seared to perfection – it was pink, juicy, soft and melted in your mouth. The only downfall with this dish was that the sauce wasn’t that interesting and I don’t think it pulled the dish together very well.
Roast rump of pork with crackling, potato puree, buttered cabbage and charcuterie jus – by Justin North
Next up was the pork. This was cooked beautifully with a layer of fat attached onto the side. The mash was creamy and soft, the sauce was delicious – very homely food for a winter night. However, one bad thing was that the crackling was way too hard. Even using my back teeth, my eating partner and I found it difficult to break with our teeth. A failed textural element to the dish.
Lemon and mint spring rolls with lemon syrup – by Marion Grasby
When it came to desserts, we made sure we picked the most interesting sounding ones to end our night. First up were some spring rolls filled with a creamy custard with a subtle refreshing mint flavour, though I couldn’t taste any lemon. Also, there were two things which caught me off guard with this dish. Firstly, the dish was warm – I expected the dessert to be cold, so this was an interesting change. Secondly, the spring roll was soft and soggy. I was hoping it would be crispy but unfortunately it was not.
Passionfruit puddle pie – by Julie Goodwin
Next up was a passionfruit pie, which was a lovely fruity finish to our meal. I found that the pastry base was a bit boring and needed more sugar. The cream sitting on top didn’t really complement the tart and this also lacked sweetness, but thankfully the tart filling was quite delicious and the passionfruit seeds added some interesting crunch.
Cheese platter served with crisp bread, grapes, lavosh, strawberry and pinot jam
As if we didn’t already have enough food, we were given a cheese platter featuring four types of cheese. I still don’t really appreciate cheese, but tried them anyway. The one standing up like a small pyramid was the most delicious and creamy; the others remained unfinished as they were a bit too strong for our liking.
Throughout the night, Hayden and Martin came around to the tables to take photos and chat with all guests. This was a great touch to make any Masterchef fan’s night. Hayden was a very down-to-earth type of guy to talk to and happily answered some Masterchef questions which I always wanted to know.
Some show spoilers for you:
1. For the dishes which the judges do not try, the contestants do not eat them. Unfortunately, they are discarded and wasted. However, OzHarvest salvages as much as they can (such a waste – the TV crew should eat it!)
2. Two plates are actually plated up. One which is tried by the judges (shown on air), and another one which is plated later for filming and for TV (makes me cry knowing how much beautiful food is wasted!!!)
Overall, the food was only average due to the small disappointments in every dish and the food alone was not really worth the $100 price tag per person (if it wasn’t a Masterchef event). However, the night was wonderful and kept me well entertained and the concept was well executed. Masterchef should definitely have more events like this! I was very happy to have met Hayden and pleased to know that all tips would go to OzHarvest and were matched by American Express (up to $20k).
MasterChef Dining pop-up Restaurant and Bar
St Mary’s Cathedral , College St, Sydney
Dates: 3rd July – 22nd July 2012
This event is now sold out for the restaurant. The bar does not take bookings so you can turn up for a drink (the celebrity guests walk around there too!)
To see which dates each celebrity chef will be appearing – visit http://www.masterchef.com.au/dining.htm
Sounds like your dinner was bit hit and miss which is disappointing for the money (I wish they gave more than just the tips to Oz Harvest). I love passionfruit pips…crunchy!
I’m not sure if they give more money to OzHarvest but I could only see they wrote ‘tips’.
But regardless, the event is more than about just food given that you get entertained by the hosts! 🙂
I was prett devastated that I didnt get tickets to this. Would have been a great opportunity! Suppose I just have to try and make effort with the bar.. Shamefully it didn’t live up to the hype and that some of the food wasn’t as good as it should have been. I’m sure it was a great experience none the less 🙂
I tried to get a ticket to the opening night but it was sold out as well! A lot of the places went during pre-sale and I bought on the last day of pre-sale.
Maybe we can go visit the bar another night since we keep missing out on the trucks. We can go on a good night when there’s an awesome Masterchef contestant there!!!
haha who did you want to go see?
I wanted to go to the opening night because Marion was there. Otherwise on of the nights, Adam and Kylie Kwong are going to be there (Yvn is going to that one – jealous!)
both of you…. i have so much envy! lol i was going to suggest adam and kylie one.. i think its next tuesday?
Yeh Yvn is going ! hahaha
wiw i would love to meet hayden quinn! but i’m rather pissed off by the discarding food facts, what a waste, the contestants must feel sad when their carefully prepared food is wasted!
It is such a waste! I wish they invited fans to come help clean up the leftovers. I will do it for free 😀
Good to see a review of this – despite what seems like a ho-hum food experience… Thanks for sharing 🙂
No worries! I noticed noone else has review it yet except SMH but they don’t have many photos at all.
Nice and honest review – I like it! So jealous that you got to check this out. I think it was more about the experience than the food in this instance. I loved the spoilers haha! Can’t believe they actually waste all that food though. Was there a quite a few choices on the menu or quite limited?
It was definitely more about the experience this time
We had a choice of 3 entrees, 4 mains and 3 desserts, all designed by either past contestants or celebrity chefs
I was a bit put off by the price… Sounds like it was a pretty sizeable feed for the price, but a bit disappointing overall. I’d probably rather go to the actual restaurants the special guests actually run!
It is a bit expensive, but I suppose it’s part of the ‘Masterchef Experience’.
I can’t wait for contestants to open their own restaurants!
Great review and thanks for sharing! LMFAO at what lengths u will go to be incognito!!
It’s like that for all posts where faces are photographed 😉
I haven’t been interested in going to this at all. I guess I am sick and tired of MasterChef Australia. LOL
Too bad they didn’t come up with this concept when they were at the peak of the 2nd season!