The 2008 Young Chefs’ Dinner hosted by the Sydney Morning Herald as part of Good Food Month was held in October at Coast Restaurant at Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour.
A few old uni friends decided to check it out…

Below are a few photos of the event, which are not brilliant but at least they’ll give you an idea of what was served.
Coast Restaurant Sommelier Brendon February recommended a few wines, and I tried the 2007 Farnese ‘Casale Vecchio’ Pecorino ‘Terre di Chieti’ IGT, Abruzzo, which was light, grassy and perfect with the tomato and yabby appetiser below.
Yabbies and tomato on toast. Josh Davidson, Coast Restaurant

The flesh of the yabbie tasted fresh and sweet which worked well with the sweet/savoury combination of the tomato jelly which was cleansing on the palate and then the textural crumbliness of the pastry underneath gave a robustness to this light appetiser.
Macadamia, wattleseed, lemon myrtle, red rice. James Parry, Oscillate Wildly (Winner of the Young Chef Award 2008)

This dish played with texture and the diner’s expectation. The creamy macadamia ‘mousse’ was savoury as were the ‘toffee shards’ and the red rice jelly.
Breast of Burrawong Farm quail, ham hock and quail leg terrine, beetroot syrup, lemon-scented celeriac puree. Michael Urquhart, No2 Oak Street Bellingen

The terrine was delicious, the puree was tasty, but the quail was a little too simple. I can see that the chef was wanting the true flavour of the bird to shine through and didn’t want to play with it too much. Great theory, but in that case the bird needs to be perfectly seasoned and perhaps with a crisp skin, or one feature that makes is interesting. It let the dish down which is a shame as the chef is obviously passionate about Australian produce.
Neck fillet of lamb, artichoke, olive paint, white bean puree, mint jelly, peas. Marc Williams, Foveaux Restaurant+Bar

Tender, succulent lamb brushed with the mint jelly so you couldn’t see it, only taste it, lovely. This was the least mentally challenging dish, and also the most enjoyable to my taste, as I could just relax and enjoy.
Osso Iraty, dates, gingerbread. Josh Davidson, Coast

A well rounded rectangle of sheeps milk cheese wrapped in a thin sticky layer of fresh dates is a wonderful parcel of sweet and savoury. Tiny beetroot leaves and slivers of crisp apple with a very light appley dressing on a not too sweet gingerbread base. This was my favourite for aesthetic appeal, flavour balance and more-ishness! Well done!
Nougat parfait, mustard citrus fruits. Luke Powell, Tetsuya’s

Intense, challenging, interesting. I enjoyed the mental challenge of this dish, trying to uncover all of its secrets. It was not my favourite flavour-wise as it was not balanced or cleansing, rather it is a richer dish, however it was certainly one of the most daring and for that Luke shold be commended. The serving size may have added to the richness, half the amount would have been sufficient for such a dessert.
Caramels, house made petit fours by Josh Davidson.
This was a disappointment as I love caramel in all formats, but these were oily and under-sweet. A thin sliver of dark chocolate would have been a better end to such a feast.

Here is my first batch of prawn sambal, based on a recipe given to me from my friend Malini Ganesan who is a wonderful cook and keeps herself sane in Germany with a curry, laksa or sambal here and there to break up the delicious meatiness and carbohydrate-rich German cuisine.
I have included the recipe below in case anyone would like to try it themselves and let me know what you think. It is very tasty eaten with a curry on the side, lots of basmati rice, and please, do try eating it with your fingers. Mush the sambal into the rice bit by bit. It is irresistable, pungent, spicy and addictive. It is the only way to truly experience it. Well, that and in the traditional Nasi Lemak of course, see post on Temasek Restaurant for dishes included in Nasi Lemak.
The curry I made above was fish and eggplant curry from a Madhur Jaffery cookbook.
Prawn Sambal

  • 10 dried red chillis
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks lemon grass, thick outer layers removed, finely sliced
  • 5-10 red asian eschallots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp belachan (shrimp paste, solid block)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp peeled and chopped ginger, pounded to a paste in a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can chop it very finely)
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2-4 tbsp ikan bilis from asian grocer
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Blend chilli, garlic, lemongrass, eschallots and belachan to a fine paste in a blender or small food processor, adding a tablespoon of oil until a rough paste forms.
  2. Fry paste in a few tablespoons of oil for a few minutes or until fragrant. Remove paste from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving some oil in the pan.
  3. Fry onion in the same oil over a low to medium heat until clear. Add pounded ginger and cook for one minute. Add chilli/garlic mixture and fry for one minute. Add sambal oelek, fry until dark.
  4. Add tomato puree and cook until oil separates and comes to the top of the mixture. Add dried shrimp, stir. Finish by stirring in lemon juice. Serve with lots of basmati rice, a curry or some dahl on the side.

There is a lovely light mustardy tasting broth called Sambar that moistens the rice and the sambal and is very nourishing that I need to get the recipe for, will post it here if I can persuade Malini to part with it 🙂 She has agreed to share, will post soon.