Chef Serge Dansereau hails from Montreal Canada, and we had the pleasure of talking to him at the recent Hats off dinner at Prego, the Westin KL. This French Canadian chef’s career kick started as a kitchen hand in Montreal, but he gradually worked his way to the top as his flair for cooking became apparent to those around him. Serge also had a knack for turning flailing business and kitchens around. That is probably why he became so famous, so quickly too.
That’s right.. Serge started work in Sydney at The Regent in 1983. He spent 18 years at the hotel, shooting their flagship restaurant to three-hat fame. Coupled with a forward thinking general manager, he was able to explore overseas trends and restaurants, bringing back to Australia a zest for interesting produce and small producers. At a time when it was difficult to get your hands on different varieties of vegetables, Serge encouraged a greater knowledge of what we can produce in Australia and worked hard to get it from paddock to plate.
Being awarded Chef of the year in 1990, his passion for produce and his promotion of regionalism was iconic. Serge progressed on to co-own the renowned Bathers’ Pavilion where it is now labelled as one of Sydney’s, if not Australia’s major culinary institution. If you eat at this restaurant you can rest assured that the food is never outsourced, nor any of the kitchen tasks. Serge produces his own bread, jam, ice cream, pastry, stock and even butter at his Restaurant. They fillet their fish from whole fresh fish and they cook in a very natural style to enhance the produce we prepare. Such is the fantastic reputation of this two-hatted restaurant. We hope to visit Serge at his cool restaurant in Sydney, month end, when we visit the place!
Apart from being a chef at heart, Serge has written 6 books, with the most recent “Summer Food” released in November 2011. We joined Serge last week, as he took over the Prego Italian restaurant, with some simply divine creations that has become his trademark dishes even at Bathers’ Pavilion. At this 5 course, wine-food paired dinner, some of the outstanding dishes we sampled were Serge’s Galantine of quail, foie gras and leek ash confit leg, verjuice jelly and mizuna; Kombu-baked ocean trout with black salsify baby gold beetroot, dried oyster, woodland sorrel and Duck magret with confit peach, pistachio cream witlof, crisp tongue and kimchi sauce. The flavours were topped only by the exquisite presentation. Here’s what we had for dinner.
amuse bouche – salted cod soup with preserved lemon
Sashimi of Snapper with Dill
This first fish dish of Pumpernickel Beurre Noisette Crumble, Capers paired with the Bolinger NV was just exquisite. Beurre noisette, just butter cooked until it goes brown and nutty smelling is one of the great sauces for fish of all time. The dextrose soil was a nice textural touch, and served with fresh dill, oil and some compressed seaweed chips, this super fresh, succulent sashimi snapper was to die for.
Galantine of Quail
Next up, one of my favourite dishes, the Foie Gras and Ash Leek Confit Leg, Verjuice Jelly, Mizuna paired with the Joseph Drouhin, Pouilly Fuisse 2010, France. The usual Galantine of deboned quail that was stuffed back and rolled into a cylindrical shape but unusual that it had a little heart of foie gras. This was the best part.. as the delicate Quail galantine melted in the mouth and mingled with the rich aroma of the foie gras. The Verjuice jelly added moisture to the Ash Leek Confit Leg and it all came together beautifully when paired with the fruity and lively acid structure of the Joseph Drouhin, Pouilly Fuisse 2010, France.
Kombu-baked Ocean Trout with Black Salsify
Our next course would be a skinned ocean trout, served with Konbu that had been soaked and packed down many times over till they became compact, then sliced till they resembled black twigs. This was served with roasted baby Gold Beetroot, Salsify Puree with Dried powdered Oyster on top, Woodland Sorrel and paired with the Pascal Bouchard Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2009, France. The Ocean Trout was magnificent, but when paired with this particular white wine, it made the dish somewhat fishy. I would have paired it differently, perhaps with a New Zealand Marlborough.
On to our next course.. enter the heavy weights. Duck was on the menu, and it was time to bring out the reds. For this next course, they serve us the De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2010, Australia.
Duck Magret with Confit Peach
The Duck Magret, cooked a nice medium rare, served with a Kimchi sauce, roasted peaches, fried ducks tongue, pickled endives and pistachio puree was a well thought out dish. The duck however, was a little hard and the skin, tough and rubbery – perhaps not the best duck I have ever had. Living in South East Asia, I guess you could say that I’m spoilt for choice, as we get tons of shops in town serving far superior ducks with amazingly succulent duck meat to boot. I did however love the flavours of the Pistachio Cream Witlof, the texture of the Crisp duck Tongue and zing of the Kimchi Sauce, that all came together beautifully and paired rather well with the De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2010, Australia.
The Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2009, France makes an appearance and you know that dinner is drawing to an end..
Coconut and Lime Eclair
A lovely, refreshing, beautifully presented dessert concluded dinner – Coconut and Lime Eclair served with a Frozen Lime Macaroon, Sweet and Sour Apples, Rhubarb Crisp paired with the M. Chapoutier Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2009, France was a hard dessert to top. A great choice that ended dinner on a high note.
Yes indeed, Chef Serge Dansereau prowess in the kitchen is a force to be reckoned with. One of the more memorable dinners for this year so far, to be sure.
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