Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Bridge Room brings Taubmans colours, themes and textures to life

I love the emotions and psychology behind colours – in nature, in interiors and in food. I don't necessarily believe that I eat smaller portion sizes on blue plates, but there is something in the way a colourful dish is more uplifting than brown-on-brown sludge.

Taubmans Colour Look Books collaboration with The Bridge Room, Bridge Street, Sydney
(Image courtesy of DEC PR and Taubmans)
Texture also plays an important role in eating, as it does in the world of design and interiors, which is probably why the launch of Australian paint brand Taubmans' new Colour Look Books was held at two-hatted The Bridge Room in Sydney's CBD last week.

Shaynna Blaze for the Taubmans Colour Look Books launch(Image courtesy of DEC PR)
Fusing the worlds of food, colour and design, The Bridge Room chef and co-owner Ross Lusted – who last night was crowned Chef of the Year at the SMH Good Food Awards – was commissioned to create a bespoke menu to match the colours and styles of the images in Taubmans' Colour Look Books.

The five new look books are available at Bunnings and were curated by interior decorator, and Taubmans brand ambassador and creative colour director, Shaynna Blaze – who you might have seen on Selling Houses Australia or The Block on television.

Taubmans Colour Look Books(Image courtesy of DEC PR)
The Colour Look Books encourage people to take inspiration from the world around them to create colour palettes and interiors, with each look book providing interior decorating ideas, compatible colour palettes and styling suggestions.

There's 'Flora's Canvas' inspired by the naturally occurring colours of the botanical world; 'Birds of a Feather' that celebrates the colour of Australian native birds, and their habitats, textures and environment; and 'Imagination' featuring looks inspired by whimsical childhood imaginations and freedom, while there's also an Exteriors Look Book.

The Bridge Room chef and co-owner Ross Lusted
(Image courtesy of DEC PR)
The Bridge Room does not normally offer a degustation menu but in this five-course collaboration chef Lusted used some existing components from the two-year-old restaurant's menu while other, more tricky aspects were created purely for the event.

While the concept of bringing interior décor to life via food might have seemed a stretch, it was most impressive to see how well Lusted’s dishes matched Blaze’s Look Book styles.

The Bridge Room recreations of Taubmans Colour Look Book styles
(Image courtesy of DEC PR and Taubmans)
Lusted admitted that colour is one of the least important aspects in his cooking, to laughter in the room and perhaps to some horror for those working on the Colour Look Books. But he said, "Inspiration for what I do as a chef is everywhere, and I love the idea of drawing inspiration from one discipline and recreating it in another."

Lusted has one of the smallest two-hatted restaurants in town with 60 seats. He's in the restaurant's small kitchen every day, with an almost daily-changing menu featuring a very strong focus on seasonal ingredients, many sourced from a Windsor farm.

His food reminds me a lot of Quay and chef (and Lusted's good mate) Peter Gilmore's nature-inspired approach. It makes some sense then, that Lusted has partnered with the Fink Group (which owns and manages Quay and Otto Ristorante) for The Bridge Room.

Tables settings at The Bridge Room
(Image courtesy of DEC PR) 
Lusted has had a great year and indeed, a great few weeks. He won Chef of the Year at last night's SMH Good Food Awards and The Bridge Room was nominated for Restaurant of the Year. The restaurant retained its two hats, but is now also at the same hatted level as the likes of Marque, est and Tetsuya's.

It won both the Hottest Restaurant and Hottest Chef of the Year in The Australian's national Hot 50 Restaurants Awards this year, and ranked 14th in the national 2013 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards.

Lusted is pretty well content with his two hats, especially having not cooked in a commercial kitchen for a long time prior to The Bridge Room, but working for the global Aman Resorts and living in southeast Asia and India.

Now, he seems to revel in the fact that he gets a lot of local CBD residents and tourists in for lunch and dinner, and not just the corporate wining and dining crowd. As a former chef at Rockpool, he's also encouraged by Neil Perry's three-hatted restaurant's impending move to Bridge Street from its current George Street, The Rocks home. Lusted shares that there are now no vacancies for restaurants on Bridge Street despite high demand.

Table settings for the Taubmans Colour Look Books launch
(Images courtesy of DEC PR)
The Taubmans Colour Look Book inspired degustation took over the entire restaurant with a champagne-sipping crowd and, odd as it seems, had table centrepieces of Taubmans Endure paint tins, succulent plants and adorably functional, thick grey felt placemats.

Tea soaked quail eggs, nest of celeriac, black salt, lardo, ash dressing, candied chilli threads
After a bubbles and seriously good sourdough bread with butter, the first dish of the degustation was created from the 'Radiant Wren' style from the 'Birds of a Feather' Look Book. It referenced the Fairy Wren with grey-brown tones of its habitat and a touch of blue influenced by the Dinkum Blue paint colour.

This was one of the toughest assignments for Lusted who enlisted the help of blue Curaçao in lightly dying the surface of the two quail's eggs. The nest of celeriac threads, topped with candied red chilli threads, formed the Fairy Wren’s nest which in life is built of grass, twigs and even hessian threads.

With one egg in the nest, the other was wrapped delicately in lardo, swaddled by the luscious cured pork back fat which was easily my favourite part of the dish. The black feather stencil of salt and powdered coconut ash acted as dramatic seasoning for the eggs, while the adorably plated dish was matched to a 2011 Helm Riesling.

A summer salad of wood smoked sheep’s milk curd, golden beetroot, sorrel blossoms, lemon butter, celery salt
The second course of the night took inspiration from a tropical getaway in the 'Tropical Dew' styling of the 'Flora's Canvas' Look Book with relaxing green tones of the relaxing Make Believe paint colour.

I could see the cane chair typical of holidays in the tropics, cleverly created out of a crunchy gathering of deep fried potato strings, while yellow sorrel blossoms were the fitting tropical flower print. Golden beetroot, enveloping lightly smoked sheep's milk curd, added more tropical colour along with the lemon butter which added to the sorrel's summery citrus notes.

With such a myriad of flavours on each plate, I wouldn't envy the sommelier's task, but this was matched with an intriguing Loire Valley 2011 Domaine de La Louvetrie Muscadet.

Saffron spiced potato, sweet peppers in their juice, artichoke petals, dried olive, cucumber
The 'Imagination' Look Book inspired the third dish, specifically the 'Story Time' look which features a neat array of colourful children's toys, including blocks, books and soft toys.

Another dish pleasantly vegetarian, we didn't need too much imagination to see the toy blocks and balls. Saffron-yellowed potato blocks and balls, of the Rubber Duckie paint colour, were piled up with cucumber and tomato spheres, as well as red capsicum, heirloom carrots and artichoke leaves.

While the ball shapes were a little challenging to stab with a fork, it may well have been that the matching 2010 Kate Hill Pinot Noir doing its thing.

Ash grilled duck, Jerusalem artichoke, prunes in Banyuls, potato horns, truffle
The main dish was easily the most amazing duck dish I've ever had. It was inspired by the 'Grand Owl' in the 'Birds of a Feather' Look Book, with white and neutral colours of creamy Jerusalem artichoke puree and radish representing feathered layers of the bird.

The incredibly thin and crisp potato horn shapes were inspired by the Grand Owl's surroundings, with the circular thins of truffle perhaps being luxuriously tasty eyes. Meanwhile, the slices of duck breast were finished on The Bridge Room's robata grill, infusing a soft smokiness into the caramelised skin and perfectly fatty meat, cut in richness by the Banyuls fortified wine poached prunes.

The matched 2011 Phillip Shaw The Idiot Shiraz had the big flavours to match the sumptuous duck which alone made the night for me.

Violet meringue, blueberry paint, white chocolate yoghurt, raspberry powder, pistachio, crystalised violets
Out of the looks that Lusted chose to recreate, the nanna chic 'Hydrangea Musing' look from the 'Flora's Canvas' Look Book was probably my favourite, helped by the simply amazing dessert creation.

The Wild Violet paint colour burst onto the plate via crisp-surfaced violet meringues, blueberry "paint" and crystallised violet petals, while the Fizzy Lime paint colour and crumbled pistachios represented leafy foliage.

The raspberry powdered meringues could have represented that hydrangeas do indeed come in pink, while the pools of white chocolate yoghurt left me speechless – the flavour pairing was so spot on with the most perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, I wondered why I hadn't tasted the combination before.

It helped that dessert was served with the ridiculously drinkable 2012 Massolino Moscato D’Asti from Piemonte, Italy, which was the sparkling, lightly floral style of dessert wine I like.

Five courses later I was truly inspired. The collaborative dinner shone with Lusted's knowledge, skills and imaginative flair bringing to life five very creative and colourful looks by Blaze in the Taubmans Colour Look Books. Congratulations to chef Lusted on a fantastic dinner and what's sure to be an amazing year ahead.

Taubmans has also relaunched Taubmans Endure Interior and Exteriors with a Lifetime Guarantee and new packaging designed by Blaze.

Food, booze and shoes attended the Taubmans Colour Look Book launch at The Bridge Room with thanks to DEC PR.

The Bridge Room on Urbanspoon


MAB vs Food said...

I love Bridge Room! And what a great event. The pics of the room and the accompanying dish look stunning. Ross Lusted winning chef of the year was thoroughly deserved. Anything cooked using the robata grill at Bridge Room is seriously awesome. I still remember the squid I had at one meal and it was cooked to perfection and had amazing charring from the grill. Your post makes me want to go back soon

Jarhead said...

Very impressive! Great colours on the plate.

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Very cool idea!

missklicious said...

the dishes look like works of art!

Tina said...

Hi MAB vs Food - I can't wait to go back and have more off the robata grill too. Ross was so lovely too - so happy for their wins.

Hi Jarhead - Agree, especially the purples in the dessert!

Hi gaby - Isn't it? I was a little skeptical at first, but was amazed during dinner.

Hi missklicious - They sure were! Delicious ones!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I bet that this was a fun event for the chef! It's not often that you get a brief like this :)

Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said...

Bridge Room is awesome! Lusted winning chef of the year? Thoroughly deserved.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...