With friends and family away for Easter, it has allowed me some quiet time in Sydney; taking in walks, movies, coffee and lunch … and writing my column on my laptop in Centennial Park, my favourite spot in Sydney, followed by lunch at Centennial Parklands Café on the deck overlooking this great park. With the Indian summer we are experiencing, this is certainly a great place for Sydney-siders and to showcase to visitors what this great city has to offer.
Last month I also had the pleasure of attending a fabulous event at Centennial Parklands Restaurant – the Trippas White 20th birthday celebrations. The dinner, attended by a hundred guests was exceptional with platters of superb local food set out on each table and complemented with outstanding wines. Since the end of 2007, TrippasWhite, formed by Brien Trippas, have operated in partnership with the Australian International Hospitality Group forming one of the most significant food and beverage groups in the country. At my table was Lyndey Milan (MC for the evening), Allan Saunders (Radio National – By Design), John Fordham (John Laws manager amongst many other celebrities), Joe Brown from Journey Masters travel agency … a most convivial group.
Yolanda went to Thailand last month to do some filming of hotels and restaurants in Bangkok. The political unrest there put us on edge, but she rang to assure me that the splendid Mandarin Oriental Hotel, was looking after all their guests in a grand manner, so much so they did not even want to leave the hotel to go shopping – now that’s a feat in Bangkok. With magnificent restaurants, their world famous cooking school, exceptional grounds, many swimming pools and unbelievable service, why would they have wanted to leave the hotel. She did however also film at Sirocco, Lebua Hotel’s restaurant on the top level of the hotel … and to view the videos please visit our new featurede Groots Best Videos
I am off to the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore later this month. As mentioned before, we are now covering overseas food events. At this major culinary event, guests can look forward to sampling the finest cuisine by the world’s leading chefs and engaging with them at the chef’s table luncheons and culinary master classes. It will be a hard choice choosing what events I would to attend as they all sound exceptional but no doubt my cooking skills will benefit from any event. Singapore already has a reputation for having some of the world’s best restaurants but at the end of this month no fewer than six celebrity chefs will open restaurants at Marina Bay Resort including Wolfgang Puck of Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, Daniele Boulud from three Michelin starred Daniels in New York as well as our own Tetsuya Wakuda. Australian chef Scott Webster who owns Carrington Restaurant in Newcastle, is also opening Osia at Resorts World Sentosa. With 36 years in the culinary industry, he has also worked at famed venues including London’s Savoy Hotel and Switzerland’s Grand Hotel. I will look forward to meeting him whilst I am there. Singapore’s reputation as a leading world foodie destination will no doubt be elevated even higher by the opening of these restaurants and should widen its reputation as from just being a place to transit on the way to somewhere else.
Australia’s foodie events of the year, Taste of Sydney and Taste of Melbourne were held last month and I was fortunate to spend some time at the Sydney event, speaking to industry colleagues at Centennial Park. The weather was great, the atmosphere was festive and no doubt gave people the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with some of our leading chefs and to experience the impressive food and wine served in our leading restaurants.
Last week I was invited to Lyndey Milan and Ian (Herbie) Hemphill’s book launch – Just Add Spice – at the Essential Ingredient in Rozelle their new premises where The Barn was in Darling Street. This great space is now full of wonderful ingredients, appliances, cookbooks everything for the serious and not-so-serious cook that one would not normally find in the supermarket. Just Add Spice is an excellent cook book, and like all Lyndey’s books, easy to follow using ingredients that are always available. I have started at the beginning – doing a ‘Julia and Julia’…..so far each recipe has been a great success, however I did have to rush down to Chinatown last week at 8.00pm on Friday night to buy Star Anise for a Vietnamese recipe so next week I will be stocking up on all my spices at Herbies in Rozelle, spice lover’s heaven.
I am pleased to say that our on-line booking service is growing, with a 300% increase in the number of bookings that have come through our site. How much easier is it now to make a real-time booking at Australia’s best restaurants 24/7 and not waiting until the restaurant opens or wait for a reply from your phone message. Restaurant bookings will soon be made just like hotel and airline bookings, on-line and instantly confirmed.
Until next time,
Happy cooking, dining and travelling
Maureen de Groot