Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Just through sheer excitement! After meeting visiting Chef Nicolas Le Bec on Friday, I couldn’t wait until today’s masterclass, and then lunch. Monday 11 January 2010. It worries me sometimes that when you set such a high expectation, that the event itself is not going to live up to it. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and the first masterclass in the inaugral Cuisine NOW was a resounding success.
Le Bec had settled in to Sydney, recovered from his flight. I watched intently as I sat perched in my front row seat.
There were three dishes in the class and first up was Raviole de Crevettes et poireaux au jus de crapace (Prawn ravioli with a sauce from the shells).
All of the recipes in our folders read simply enough. It became clear during the class that there was a reason Chef Tony Bilson invited Le Bec as the future face of French cuisine. Each action came with detailed instructions about the produce (translated from French to English during the class). Le Bec’s attention to detail was incredible. His own style of cuisine is inimitable, solidly grounded in technique, yet inspired by his travels and based on the best available produce. The Le Saint Pierre d’Atlantique Poché, Jus de Cidre Fermier, Pomme Verte et Concombre Cru (Poached Atlantic Coast John Dory in Farmhouse Cider Jus with Green Apples and Crunch Cucumber) demonstrated this, with Le Bec’s addition of celery on the day. Similarly, after a visit to the Sydney Fish Market he was inspired to make a change to today’s lunch menu.
Chef Le Bec’s passion took root in his grandfather’s garden in Brittany. His art refined with great masters such as Jean Pierre Vigato, Alain Passard, Jacques and Laurent Pourcel. Currently his Restaurant Nicolas Le Bec is awarded les 2 étoiles Michelin. Le Bec has a total of 3 restaurants in Lyon. He’s soon to open in Beijing. The Tour de France of styles and flavours: Paris, Montpellier, Megève, Lyon, Beaulieu sur Mer, le Lubéron. His world tour of culinary demonstrations: Italy, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, United States, Japan, Canada and now Australia.
La Mousse Légère au Chocolate Chaud
Plain Chocolate Mousse, Served Hot
200g dark chocolate (61% cocoa – Valrhona)
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a baine marie (35C).
6 egg yolks
Blend egg yolks and sugar until foamed.
10 egg whites
Whisk egg whites and sugar until in firm peaks like meringue.
Fold the yolk mixture into the melted chocolate.
Fold the chocolate and yolk mixture into the whisked egg whites.
Fill two-thirds full with the mixture and bake in a preheated oven (220C) for 6 minutes.
Pictured below: chocolate disks not mentioned in the recipe, but placed atop each cup of the hot chocolate mousse to melt into an unctuous topping. I’m not so sure these are ‘plain’.
There was a lengthy discussion at the class on chocolate, and Le Bec stressed that the quantity of chocolate for a recipe varies not only for the % of cocoa, but also for the brand of chocolate. This recipe is based on Valrhona.
What was best part of the day? It’s hard to pick just one. Just being there is right up in my hall of favourite life experiences. Perhaps, that now Nicolas had recovered from the flight, I found him not quiet and shy, but charming and cheeky! He teased a cameraman with beaten egg white directed in fun, at his nose. He certainly was calm, and focused, as well as knowledgable. The other highlight was the generous individual taste portions that were supplied after each demonstration dish.
At the end of the day, that’s where Nicolas made his mark with me: flavour.
For the third dish, the chocolate mousse (served hot) we retreated to the showroom of Signorelli Gastronomia for our tasting. As we stood to leave, the cheeky Nicolas Le Bec, pointed to the three cups of chocolate mousse in the oven, and declared that “the best ones are here but they’re for us”.