Sunday, May 1, 2016

117 dining at Intercontinental Sydney

Have you ever watched how an octopus eats a lobster or a crab? You tube it... it’s like watching a horror movie. Anyway the reason for telling you is that one of the exquisite starters cooked up by Chef Luke Fernley of 117 dining at the Intercontinental Sydney is one of the best type of octopuses to eat because that particular species of octopus has a fine dining diet of lobster, crab and scallops. Sweet, smooth and creamy.

117 dining is located inside the beautiful sandstone fascades of the Intercontinental Sydney’s Treasury building which was built in 1851. 117 dining offers fine dining cuisines, and together with the wine selection, the service and ambience, it is a place you to go to impress someone special.

I dined there with Larry, owner of Northside Seafood Suppliers and his wife, Mara to learn more about the seafood behind 117 dining’s menu.

Culinary Director, Tamas Pamer and Head Chef Constantin Kautz are the people behind the Intercontinental Sydney supported by a young and energetic team and as part of their team is Sous Chef Luke Fernley who looks after 117 dining, and with a high degree of finesse I might add through a sneak preview inside the kitchen as I was doing some of these photos.

I caught up with Chef Luke to find out a bit more about his background and food philosophy.

#1 How did your career as a chef start?

I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen even as a small child often helping my grandmother prepare dinner. So when I was in high school I chose to do hospitality as a subject. Through this course I was able to do work placement in a restaurant and a hotel, which I found to be a very good experience. Upon finishing school I was contacted and offered to start an apprenticeship though one of my work placements. From then I started to become more and more interested in cooking and decided that being a chef was the life for me.

#2 What's your food philosophy?

My philosophy for food is keep it simple, choose seasonal produce, respect your produce and highlight the produce natural flavour.

#3 Who or what has inspired or influenced your food and dishes the most?

I have worked with many chefs over the years and have taken influence from all of them. But the thing that has influenced me the most with my approach to food has been my visits to Japan. To see and experience how food is ingrained in their culture was very eye opening for me when I was a young chef and every trip back I learn or experience new things.

#4 What do you usually have for breakfast in the morning?

On days that I work I have breakfast on the run. I make my self a smoothie with banana, Weetbix, chia, maca powder, raw cacoa, almonds and full cream milk. When I'm off I love a simple breakfast of fried eggs and bacon.

#5 Do you have a favourite dish at the Intercontinental Sydney? Why?

At the moment my favourite dish is one that I have been developing for the new 117 Dining menu. It is Korean Style Berkshire Pork Belly, Kim chi, Pear, Sake. It is my favourite because its a dish I have had in my mind for a long time and to finally put it on a plate, taste it and to fine tune it, is very satisfying. I can't wait to un-leash it on our diners very soon!

Larry of Northside Seafood Supliers told me the octopus that's on the 117 dining menu is the Western Australian Fremantle Octopus and with a diet that comprises an abundance of its favourite food – lobster, crab and scallop, no wonder its flesh is sweet and delicious. It has a rich flesh that has an almost lobster sweetness to it, and the smooth creamy texture is a result of the handling and harvest. This octopus dish was grilled by Chef Luke and garnished with pickled spring onion, red mullet botarga and smoked potato and lime.

Another seafood starter dish we tried at 117 dining was the Skull Island Prawns which are robata grilled with lemon, watercress and seaweed butter … a crowd pleaser. What’s special about Skull Island Prawns are they’re the biggest you can find in Australia, Larry from Northside Seafood told me and the protected waters of Skull Island (Island in the Northern Territory) provide the ideal habitat for giant tiger prawns. These juicy behemoths of the prawn underworld are truly king on the plate and I like what Chef Luke Fernley did with these prawns. The prawns are also certified ‘sustainable’ by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
These are some other of Chef Luke’s dishes we tried, all refinely appealing in presentation:

Another exquisite and delicious starter of Butter Poached WA Marron with surf clam, pickled seaweed, grilled leeks, Iberico jamon, shellfish sabayon.

Black Angus Striploin a sticky wagyu beef cheek grilled over charcoal, roasted cauliflower, chervil, bone marrow jus.

And finally dessert that’s a must have and symbolic of Wimbledon, Strawberries and Cream with strawberry granita, fresh cream cloud, strawberry sorbet and crumble. Popular legend has it that King George V introduced strawberries and cream to courtside crowds.

Open for dinner
Tuesday to Saturday
5.30pm – 10pm

117 Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000 Australia
117 Dining -  InterContinental Sydney Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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