Long Time No See

It has been some time since I have blogged; restaurants around this time of year can be pretty crazy! I have spent the last two weeks at a new restaurant in Melbourne, Philippe Mouchel’s PM24. Philippe has held a reputation for having some of the best classic French food in Melbourne. French food is one of my favourite cuisines, and so I was pretty eager to get started.

One of the first things I noticed about the way Philippe (and head chef Sascha) ran a kitchen was how willing they were to give everyone in the kitchen a fair share of responsibility. For example, making terrines is something that a Sous Chef or other experienced chef would make. Here some of the younger chefs were given the task.

Pork and chicken liver terrine, pickled vegetables, cornichons, onion jam on toast.

Another example was letting me work on the sauce section on my second week of working in the restaurant. Sauce section involves making stocks, sauces, cooking meat, and plating up main dishes, and is usually done by the more experienced chefs.

I hadn’t made a terrine like the one above, and so I eagerly asked if I could do the first job required; clean the chicken livers. I think the chef thought I was a little insane, as there was 15kg of livers to be cleaned! I must admit my enthusiasm for the task waned as I battled my way through the enormous pile of livers. At least I’ll be pretty quick if I ever need to make chicken liver parfait or a terrine again!

The centrepiece of the restaurant is certainly the rotisserie. Chicken, duck, pork and rack of lamb are all on the menu.

Rotisserie pork, fennel, pork jus.

I doubt PM24 will ever receive a complaint in regards to portion sizes. The pork shown above is about the size of my head, and anyone who orders the chicken gets half a chicken with rotisserie vegetables. It’s any wonder people get to dessert, but it would be pretty hard to resist when you see other tables getting desserts like this.

Paris brest (choux pastry, hazelnut praline creme patisserie, sauce caramel, caramel hazelnuts, praline ice-cream).

The desserts are traditional French. Classic French desserts are commonplace among many restaurants, and to stand out it means doing the little things right. Take for example the creme brulee. PM24 serves it in a shallow dish with a big surface area (which means more caramel on top) and the pastry chef sprays the top with alcohol, which allows the front of house member to set the dessert on fire at the table. I would order a flaming dessert every time!

One of the quintessential parts of any French kitchen is the stocks and sauces. To allow for big volumes of sauce to be made, a brat pan is used. It works basically like a massive square saucepan, and is stirred with a metal implement which I’m sure was once used as an oar in a canoe.

Making the lamb jus.

Lessons learned at PM24:

  • When tightening a wingnut, righty=tighty, lefty=loosey. This might seem silly, but I wish I’d known it before I broke the wingnut on the thermoregulator. It took me a buttload of phone calls to track someone down who sold replacement parts in Melbourne.
  • Sauce section is fun, difficult, and bloody hot when you are standing in front of a rotisserie/ovens/stove for a long time.
  • PM24 has shown me a different way of looking a rotisserie. Not a device often used in top restaurants, but is used expertly to create really beautiful food.
  • Making 900 suckling pig croquettes is a cruel thing to do, as they are one of the tastiest morsels of food I can imagine. I’m still kicking myself I didn’t steal a hundred or two and sell them on the black market. They would have been snapped up like hotcakes. Or hot croquettes.

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nina on January 18, 2011 at 7:08 am

    YUM!!! gimme some of that Paris brest


  2. Posted by David on January 18, 2011 at 7:19 am

    WOW!! What a fantastic experience you are having. That dessert is making me drool.


  3. Dude, You gotta get yourself a better camera so we can see the food properly!


  4. I totally understand how cellphone cameras can only do so much justice to the beauty but on the other hand are extremely portable so no complains in that department 😀 The desert looks beautiful!! Did you come across any special technique for cleaning livers while working your way through the huge load?


  5. Posted by Caroline Wroe on January 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Just a quick question. How much do you think it would cost to post one of those yummy looking desserts to Yorkshire?


  6. Posted by janessa on January 20, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Paris brest luks tasty…. 🙂


  7. Posted by alice on January 20, 2011 at 6:01 am

    hey callum,
    thanx for sharing the updates n u r rite, it’s been a long time u have blogged. cuz every time i check there is no new stuffs n i can’t wait to read other new updates…see ya!


  8. Posted by Simran on January 21, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Hi Callum!
    Wow, that Paris brest dessert looks absolutely amazing, I would really like to eat it! 🙂
    Have you finished your scholarship with George by the way?

    From, Simran 🙂


  9. Hello Callum!
    I just had to write you and say that I’m extremly impressed by your cooking skills! I am self a 19 years old Swedish masterchef contestant, chef student, and a food blogger since almost three years now.

    I also have to commend you for your great ambitions and your willpower to succeed within the chef world! Hope we’ll meet one day in the kitchen!

    Wish you all the best Callum!
    Jenne Benjaminsson
    http://www.kalasgott.blogg.se – translatable


  10. Posted by NIki on January 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

    calllum those desserts are AMAZINGGG!!!
    truly extraordinary 🙂
    and YOU are THE king of desserts 🙂
    Cheeers to you CALLUM!


  11. Posted by Simran on January 26, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Happy Australia Day Callum! 🙂


  12. Happy Australia Day! I have now an additional Aussie Chef to admire aside from Adriano Zumbo and Matthew Mc Kenzie. And when I saw you that you met Jamie Oliver…I remember how it feels meeting him as well. I saw your journey Callum…going one on one with Adam is like winning as well.


  13. Posted by Paul Wilson on February 1, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Hello Callum, It would appear as though you are quite a cow boy in the kitchen. I also have issues with lefty-loosey righty-tightywhitey.

    Love love


  14. Posted by Kelly on February 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    First time I looked at your recipes and photos.
    Just love your food! In Holland they are a bit late with broadcasting Masterchef Australia so I am still enjoying your work on television. Hope to see more of you in the future!


  15. Posted by Chaungocloanvy on February 9, 2011 at 3:14 am

    I wish i could taste the pudding you had make in junior masterchef one time. Love to see a man enjoy cooking so much like you at that such young age.


  16. Posted by Martijn on March 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Callum,

    Watching the final now on tv in Holland, we’re almost a year behind :). Too bad you didn’t win but in my eyes you did win! Only 20 years old and look what you’ve accomplished respect! Masterchef Australia is a big hit in Holland and your the favorite! I wish you thd best of luck and hope you will open a restaurant in Holland so i can taste your awsome dishes!

    Cheers from Holland!


  17. Posted by Diana kraakman on March 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Dear Cullum , how are you doing
    today was the last day of masterchef in holland , the final day,
    we are looking every day to the programm, and we are a big fun of you. you are a very good chef but adam also..but for us you are the winner, we wish you all the best, mayby whe come some day to australie
    greetz from holland. big hug from us to you . bye Diana


  18. Posted by D@rT!N on March 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    OMG ! callum ! you are an amazing person ! you accomplished all this and ur only a year older than i am ! i just cant describe how wonderful i felt when u made it to the finals when ur the youngest contestant in the competition , i cant imagine how u felt as well !

    u got ur self an extreme fan all over from saudi arabia ! keep up the good work 🙂


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