Updated: Jan 8
Emma Windle's placement at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant.
For six weeks Emma completed her placement at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant. This was her first experience working in a commercial kitchen - "and it has certainly been an interesting one!"
"The Magill is a high-end restaurant, offering set tasting menus comprised of a variety of plates, which can be optionally paired with Penfolds' recommended wines from their cellars. The set menu is priced at $210pp, plus wines, and due to the complexity of dish preparation, all bookings must be made in advance, with dietary requirements noted. It is also necessary to start preparing some of the courses more than 24 hours in advance. This format is ideal from the perspective of minimising food wastage and controlling overheads which is a critical factor when using expensive ingredients."
"All chefs rotate stations regularly to remain knowledgable on all aspects of the set menu and this also gives flexibility, but it soon became clear that each chef had their own particular forte."
"Magill menus are contemporary, with a Japanese influence and reflect the knowledge acquired by Scott Huggins (Head Chef) in his work placements. Interesting ingredients I used during my placement included nori, taro, kombu salt, black garlic, finger limes, abalone, bonito, crab, lobster, scallops, mussels, wagyu beef, venison, lamb's tongue, celeriac & razorfish hearts.*"
"Working at Magill has been an amazing opportunity for me and I can appreciate that for many diners seeking a truly special and unique experience, the restaurant offers that 'je ne sais quoi'!"
"The dish that I had main responsibility for was the zucchini. Each one takes 8 minutes to plate as it is dressed & smoked mini zucchini which have to be sliced thinly on a mandoline and then carefully layered with tweezers in circles on top of burrata cheese (which has previously been pipette-injected with olive oil, balsamic, sprinkled with kombu salt, topped with micro basil leaves and a tomato jelly disc). Then to finish off, the dish is covered in grated cured egg yolk and sieved black garlic powder!"
"I was asked to make lunch for my fellow chefs and the Front of House team. Initially, I was rather nervous at this prospect as I would be catering for professional who collectively had many years' experience, some in Michelin Star restaurants. And then there was me, just a novice with only six months experience behind me. I knew I had to make sure everyone was well fed and adequately fuelled up to get through the evening service period! I was determined to do a good job. I thought long and hard over the weekend about what to cook and would liken the experience to a 'mystery box challenge'."
"I came up with the idea of a 'home comfort' food theme, you can't go wrong with that alongside some old British classics. In advance I made some Yorkshire Puddings and as a treat, pavlova, together with a dairy free carrot cake for pudding. At work, I assembled everything so it was freshly prepared, using chicken drumsticks with mashed potatoes and gravy for the main. Everyone loved the meal!"
"Imagine my delight when the Menu Development Chef asked me for my Yorkshire Pudding recipe and then cooked miniature ones to go on a future snack menu!"
"I think the grounding I received at the Magill Estate Restaurant will stand me in good stead wherever I go in the future. I feel lucky to have experienced a niche market, exclusive catering establishment, providing fine dining to its clientele which many chefs never have the opportunity to experience in their careers."
Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant - https://www.magillestaterestaurant.com/
*Special Ingredients List
Nori - the Japanese name for edible seaweed
Taro - a root vegetable that most resembles a parsnip (colour) and beetroot (shape)
Kombu salt - Kombu is a seaweed that is used as a salt alternative
Black garlic - is an aged garlic, to age it, whole bulbs are heated over several weeks
Finger limes - a citrus fruit grown in tropical Australia that looks much like a cucumber
Bonito - a type of fish in the family of Mackerel and Tuna
Celeriac - a root-like vegetable and a variety of celery