Diary of time in Melbourne- entry no. 5

Goodbye Callum. Well, at least the physically fit, non obese Callum. Starting on the pastry section this week has led me to believe that I am actually addicted to desserts. In fact, on Thursday (after a one day stint at Clamms seafood), I had spent three days working on making, and eating, desserts. I imagine a fair amount of people would want a break from sweets. I instead had a dessert tasting plate at Ezards, ate macarons from two different patisseries, and then for dinner went to an all-dessert restaurant and had four desserts for dinner. I need help.

The Press Club’s most popular dessert, unsurprisingly, is Aphrodite. Not only is it delicious, but thanks to its appearance in an episode of Masterchef we get requests for it more than anything else. It’s quite a fun dish to plate up, as there are lots of elements and it is a little against what pastry usually stands for. Instead of rigid edges and every plate looking identical, there is a bit of an organic feel to the dish and no two are ever exactly the same. The mis en place (prep) can be a bit of a hassle though with eleven different components that need to be made!

It is always great to watch the customer put their spoon into the mousse and the raspberry centre oozes out. The dessert was actually created by Ian Burch and Darren Purchese, a couple of British pastry chefs who live in Australia now. From what I’ve heard along the grapevine they will hopefully be opening a dessert place of their own. I will be one of the first customers.

One of the really fun things about the pastry section at The Press Club is getting to play with liquid nitrogen. Combining my nerdy science nature and food makes me a happy fellow! We use it to make nitro-poached tzatziki merengues as an amuse bouche, smashing citrus segments into individual cells and a garnish on the chocolate dessert. In fact, my nerdy nature got the better of me on one occaion, where I got into a bit of an argument with a customer. He was trying to tell me that liquid nitrogen was -40 degrees Kelvin. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many things are wrong with that statement, but I’ll leave that for another day (for the record, it is -196 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Kelvin).

I also spent a day at Clamms seafood, where I was to go to the fish markets and see the process of how fish gets from the boat to your plate in a restaurant. The midnight till midday shift was a bit of a shock to the system. The market was fun though, watching as various buyers would lose their temper at each other when vying to purchase the same seafood. It was one of the guy’s birthdays, so there I was, at 3:30am, singing happy birthday to a guy I’d never met in the Melbourne fish market. If you described the scenario to me a year ago, good chance I wouldn’t have believed you.

Adam and I hosted tables on Saturday night at Starry Starry Night, an event to raise money for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. It was a great night, with a truckload of money raised (which is used for child abuse prevention, awareness, assistance to affected children etc).

Lessons learned this week:

  • The pastry section is obviously most busy at the end of the night, which means you can keep prepping during service, but it also means it is the last section to clean down and finish.
  • Fresh fish shouldn’t smell fishy, it should smell like the sea. Being in the fish markets, it was surprising how unoffensive the smell was. You would expect a place with that much fish to be overpowering, but it wasn’t bad at all. Buy your fish from a fishmonger that smells fresh. Look for fish with bright, full eyes. Filleted fish can be a bit trickier to work out if it’s fresh, but the flesh shouldn’t be breaking apart. I think you can also tell a bit by how it is displayed- is it neatly laid out or kinda just chucked in there? Do they care about their product? I knew all this before working at the fish markets but I think it’s worth mentioning.
  • I apparently have a never ending desire to eat. I don’t seem to get full like a normal person. I can’t help but feel this will probably catch up with me one day, but at the present time I seem to have metabolism like a fox.

11 responses to this post.

  1. “Mis en place”, silly!

    Strangely throughout the three and a half months I made and ate different desserts every day, I’ve lost weight – with all the work and running around I don’t think you’ll have any problems. None of us in Patisserie got obese and you’re not there long enough 😉

    Also being the last one out plating up the last dessert order watching the entree guys who finished hours ago leave at the end of service is really sad isn’t it hahahaha


  2. and by that i mean mise en place, I forgot the e


  3. Posted by Wei Mann on November 14, 2010 at 6:06 am

    As a matter of fact, there is no zero in a kelvin scale. hahahaha 😀


  4. Posted by John on November 14, 2010 at 6:15 am

    With fish fillets you want bright wet flesh. If it’s dry or pale, it’s usually old. The only exception is rock flathead which although extremely delicious is quite a morbid looking fillet. With flake(shark)/swordfish/other fish with a blood line along the fillet – you want it to be bright red. As it ages it becomes brown/grey/pale pink.


  5. Posted by Sabrina Sultana on November 14, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Wow, Callum(bro), u had great days. Right?
    Oh, and great pastries by the way!…..


  6. Enjoy the fast metabolism while you can! I found that mine slowed considerably once I hit 25, but that hasn’t stopped me from the continual eating (I just have to go to the gym a hell of a lot more!!!)

    PS- I love the lessons learned section in your blog- this is one of the things that I liked about you on MC- always eager to learn- love it… keep it up mate!


  7. Looking good in a bow tie big man, you scrub up quite well indeed. What are those desserts from Ezards?


  8. Posted by divine grace ali on November 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I can’t believe I’m really seeing your blogs! MasterChef Australia S2 is currently showing the time you were challenged to create a pastry that signifies the Crowned Jewel. We had to leave last night so I never found out who won it… So I googled and then somehow landed here! I know Adam won season 2 but I refrained from reading reviews and prefered to watch it on tv! Yey! I’m just happy to read about you Callum! I always cry when you don’t feel like at your best but always believe that you have everything you need in you! You inspire me, I’m a big fan!


  9. Posted by Lola on November 18, 2010 at 11:45 am

    that looks real yum!! i always feel the same way!! like i cant never get full!! at all!! no kidding LOL
    now what should I have for tomorrows dessert?? LOL


  10. Hi Callum,

    I laughed at your metabolism comment, as I too have always been able to eat anything and never gain weight. With regards to it possibly one day catching up with you, well I’ve just recently noticed a bit of flab for the first time in my life, and that’s at age 38, so you have a good 18 odd years of “eating anything in any amounts” ahead of you! Even then my weight gain is about 1kg, so not much of a problem, and nothing a bit of extra exercise won’t fix. The only real issue with being able to eat anything with no consequences is that women frown upon it, so it might be better to keep the ability to yourself 🙂

    Thank you for all the yummy recipes, you’re an inspiration.


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