Nose to tail eating

In the past few months we have had a flurry of restaurant guide launches and their inherent awards with Australian Gourmet Traveller’s national guide, The Age Good Food Guide and The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide…Best Chef, Best Restaurant, Best New, Best Old…gain a hat…lose a hat. There was the usual barrage of back slapping on the nights and the aftershock of genuine and sycophantic sentiments in the social media.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival closed off its events nominations for next March’s program. But interestingly, the Festival in its 18th year has been trimmed in its duration (12 – 23 March). Why is that if Australians are obsessing with food as ratings to TV’s Master Chefwould attest – and the screening of spin-off Celebrity Master Chefstarts this week?

By comparison, Sydney has increased the depth of what was October’s Good Food Month and now called the Sydney International Food Festival (aka SIFF) to a loftier version of its former self. Many of the old favourites are there, from Let’s Do Lunch (and Brunch), Shoot the Chef to night noodle markets and showcase dinners. But the unique part is the four themed weeks of the month. The opening week’s gambit is about BBQs, the second week the international (predominately Asian) chefs fly in for a weekend of master classes, the third week is slow food and ethics along with other food navel gazing with the final week being a festive celebration of food and cultural fairs and even a breakfast on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

But it is the mother load of celebrity who comes in the first week that I’m losing sleep over. Fergus Henderson, the man who has coined the term ‘Nose to Tail Eating’, will orchestrate the opening BBQ with some of Sydney’s leading chefs at the monthly Growers Market at Pyrmont Park. Prior to this he will have presided over an official launch of the Festival at Star City’s Astral restaurant where several suckling pigs will have been put to the spit. Monday he will be the headliner for a PorkStar dinner for the country’s leading chefs at The Wharf restaurant. The next day he will materialise again at Bird Cow Fish (pork?) restaurant for a slap up nose to tail pork extravaganza.

I am unashamedly a big fan of El Ferg and will be attending most of his gigs during his week stay for SIFF. I’ve seen and tasted the Fergus Henderson act and I’m not missing out. His culinary offerings are honest, luscious and rich and he is a highly entertaining raconteur. Few bits of the beast, especially the pig, phase him. They all have their part and destiny to play – and it invariably will end up on the plate at his London restaurant, St John which is ranked 15th on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list.

Celebrity US chef Anthony Bourdain said: “If I’m ever sentenced to death, I want Fergus Henderson to cook my last meal”. Me too – although I know I’ll have to take a number…but at least I’m set for the month of October.

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