Nuffnang Food Blogger Event: Collins Kitchen at The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne
Before reading; please put your seat in the upright position, grab a drink/sandwich/over priced pringles and enjoy reading all about the delicious night I had.
The date was Tuesday 23rd February 2010 AD.
Nuffnang had invited about 20 food bloggers to an exclusive dinner at Collins Kitchen, which is part of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Melbourne. I had never been inside the hotel before, let alone the dining area; but I was pleased to learn it had recently been renovated from the food court that it used to be.
Early birds met in the main lobby of the hotel, then proceeded to the RU-CO bar just off the main dining area whilst we waited for everyone to arrive. There was an extensive wine list which seemed to go on for pages. Knowing nothing much about wine and wanting to line my stomach with food before drinking, I just opted for sparkling mineral water.
We were then all seated over 2 long tables in the dining area with Nuffnang hosts David and Sarah; as well as Marketing Communications Manager of the Grand Hyatt, Lucy. We then met executive chef, Jason Camillo, who proceeded to give us a full tour of the open kitchen.
Collins Kitchen consists of 5 different cooking stations; grill, wok, sushi, deli and patisserie (guess which one is my favorite!).It is based on the Mezza9 restaurant at the Hyatt in Singapore which runs on the same concept. Their stations are a little different: western grill & rotisserie, sushi and sashimi bar, yakitori grill, the steam basket, the European deli, Thai deli and crustacean bar, the patisserie, the martini and cigar bar and a gourmet boutique.
I’m sure the kitchen staff were expecting us, but I’m not sure they were expecting 20 people with cameras snapping away like the Queen was in town. They remained cool and were probably glad when we were out of there.
We started at the sushi station where we could see the sushi chef freshly grating Tasmanian wasabi for our dinner. Slabs of fresh fish look so tempting through the glass cabinet as we are told that the kitchen really promotes local produce. It’s only the first station and we are all already drooling and wanting to sink our teeth into some sushi.
We then move through to deli section. I was at the back of the group snapping away whilst Jason was talking about the deli, so I can’t really tell you too much about it. I do know that they use Otway free range bacon though. The deli set up was very impressive though, I’m pretty sure anyone who appreciates deli goods would be happy to move in.
Behind the sushi bar is a wall of fridges with clear doors allowing you to see even more produce. Jason explains that for breakfast, guests and help themselves to yoghurt and bircher muesli that is in the fridges; giving hotel guests a feeling as if they were at home, helping themselves. Breakfast sounds fantastic at the Collins Kitchen, with fresh eggs cooked to order, as well as dim sum.
We move through to the wok station, where we see industrial grade burners that sounds like an airplane when the chef takes his wok off the heat. We see the massive steamers for steaming dumplings and whole fish, as well as the smaller holding bays for steamed food. We also see fresh chilli sauces that have been freshly prepared.
The final station in the main kitchen area is the grill. It’s about now I notice how sleek and clean the kitchen is, and how much effort it must take to maintain the shininess of all the metal surfaces. It made me just want to put my fingers all over it! We see the oven which is half wood and half gas, and are told we will be having a foccacia that is baked in said oven. There is a nice range of grill plates on display, I would loved to have seen them cooking on them if I wasn’t so busy stuffing my face at the table.
Between the wok and grill stations you see the Asian roasted meats hanging. Succulent roast ducks hang about, waiting to get in my belly. The crackling on the roast pork looks like it will provide good crunch, but we don’t find out till later if it will or not.
The last station which is situated just outside the main kitchen area is the patisserie; my favorite section! We see the pastry chef stirring a sauce on the induction cook top. The cook top is so sleek I wouldn’t have noticed she was cooking on it if it hadn’t have been pointed out to me. There is a lovely range of ice-creams and gelatii on displays, as well as tempting slices and boxes of truffles mocking us as we stand around. High tea is on offer every day, and scones are freshly baked in the oven that is in the patisserie station. Lucy tells us the smell is just amazing as it wafts throughout the area.
The menu is a’la carte, but you can watch the chefs prepare your food. I find the idea of this less intimidating as a diner. The chef is not some magical food wizard that you never see, and can’t see what he is up to; you can actually see everything being done. No matter where you sit in the dining room, you can see into the kitchen. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, you can almost feel like you are at home.
There are also 2 private dining rooms, one is known as the chef’s table; where they encourage a share menu which we dined on, serving signature dishes from the seasonal menu, which demonstrates dedication to using only the best local and organic produce.
We then return to our seats in the dining area where are settled with wine and bread. The bread is lovely and fresh. I’m a sucker for warm fresh crusty bread with butter smothered over it. This was a good way to start. BUT best not to fill up on bread as they say!
So what did we eat?
The first part to our night started with a sushi and sashimi platter, antipasto platter and freshly baked foccacia.
The fish was so incredibly fresh and just melted away in your mouth. My end of the table could have happily dined on these platters all night.
The buffalo mozzarella is from Queensland, and it just amazing with the fresh tomato and basil. It was deliciously sweet, yet such simple flavours. This wasn’t my first time with liverwurst, I’ve only had it by our favorite continental butcher though. It looked so good with it’s mini gherkin, I just had to have some. It was fantastic. A smooth texture, it went perfectly with crisp bread we were given. How can you go wrong with cantaloupe and prosciutto?
Second course involved a platter of roast meats from the wok station, fried rice, and asian greens.
All meats were cooked perfectly; from the succulent duck, to the crispy crackling of the roast pork.
Fried rice was nice, the rice cooked well; with each grain clearly separate to the other. Nice flavours and went well with the roast meats. Served with the fresh chilli sauces prepared by the wok kitchen, and Asian greens.
Third course was an amazing mixed seafood grill platter, porterhouse steak, broccolini, mashed potatoes and mushrooms.
The scallops were so plump and sweet, probably the best scallops I’ve ever had. The Morton Bay bug was so sweet and fresh. I didn’t get a chance to sample the tuna from South Australia or the salmon, but they sure looked good!
The porterhouse was definitely one of my favourites of the night. We did send it back when it first arrived as it was very rare. People who liked it cooked that way took a piece, whilst the rest of us waited for a more slightly cooked slice to return.
It was lovely and smokey; and teamed with the sweet sauce reduction was just amazing. There was also a bernaise sauce which was also delicious.
The mash was so creamy, we tried not to think how much butter was in it. The broccolini was fantastic, not sure about the mushrooms, didn’t try them!
Last but not least my favorite course; dessert.
An impressive dessert platter arrives and we all go “oooooo!!”
Just as I thought I couldn’t fit more in, I fit in at least a mouthful of everything.
The ice creams were fantastic. The strawberry flavour was my favorite with an intense strawberry taste.
The crumble was perfect with its perfectly stewed fruit and crunchy top. Fresh vanilla cream, you could even see the specs from the vanilla bean.
The peach melba was the least favorite for everyone, rather runny to what I was expecting it would be. Still a nice flavour.
The chocolate fondant was the favorite. Neil and Sarah trying to convince me that it wasn’t very good so I woudln’t have any. It was gooey inside, and the flavours would have rocked anyone’s socks off.
The banana millefeuille was also another winner with custard and I think there was even honey in there. The pastry was so perfect, crisp and also melted in your mouth.
The chocolate biscotti was paper thin, and had an intense chocolate flavour. I of course, liked it!
There is a strong emphasis on local produce. Jason and Lucy told us about the “Green Team”. Sourcing the food locally reduces their carbon footprint, and allows to showcase the amazing food Australia and local producers have to offer.
There is also an emphasis of making everything on site. We were told only the messy things like making stocks and chopping live lobsters is done in another kitchen. The backroom kitchen which no one sees is very small and only has one bench, as the majority of the cooking is done in the open kitchen at the respective stations.
Jason and Lucy also talked to us about the express lunch they are trying to promote to CBD workers. You get a selection of food on a tray. You come in, order, wait 10 minutes and then you can eat and go back to work. All for around $30-38. So, if you work nearby; I highly suggest you give it a go as the food at Collins Kitchen could not be faulted.
The staff were fantastically friendly throughout the night.
It was great to meet more bloggers from the Melbourne blogger scene. It was also great not to be the only one taking photos of food. I infact had to wait for people to stop taking photos so that I could take photos!
Thanks again to Nuffnang and The Grand Hyatt, as well as all the food bloggers for an amazing night.
Agnes from Off the Spork
Maria from The Gourmet Challenge
Sarah from Sarah Cooks
Adrian from Food Rehab – http://foodrehab.com.au/2010/02/28/blogger-dinner-at-collins-kitchen-grand-hyatt-melbourne/
Penny from Jeroxie – http://jeroxie.com/addiction/nuffnang-food-bloggers-gathering-collins-kitchen-at-the-grand-hyatt/
Thanh from I Eat Therefore I Am
Melissa and Danny from Tummy Rumbles
Joyce from Jetsetting Joyce – http://www.melhotornot.com/hot-nuffnang-food-bloggers-dinner-collins-kitchen-grand-hyatt-123-collins-st-melbourne-part-1/
Suzanne from EssJay Eats
Billy from Boys For Noise
Neil from At My Table
I don’t think I left anyone out! If I did please leave a comment. I will link their reviews when they are posted!