Great Chef Series with Dan Hong | TasTAFE Launceston

The Great Chef Series is definitely a great opportunity to see some of the most talented and influential chefs in the world come together, to teach and inspire the developing chefs of Tasmania. We find it great to see the chefs taking time out of their busy schedules to help such a great cause, especially all the way down under! Each series is hosted by a separate chef and is held once monthly between April and October. The chef will create a menu especially for the event, however the meal is prepared and cooked by the chefs in training with the guidance from the head chef. These dishes are created and matched with locally sourced Tasmanian wines. We were lucky to have the chance to join Dan Hong at Tasmania TAFE and enjoy his 6 course degustation. We started the evening off with some Moore's hill sparkling as we were waiting to be seated. This marked the start of a VERY long (5hrs) but unforgettable evening. 

NV Sparkling Blanc de Blancs - Moore's Hill
Moore's Hill is a boutique family operated wine producer located in the beautiful Tamar Valley, Tasmania. We sampled Moore's Hill wines throughout the evening. Their wines were mostly of the white variety and were paired in accordance with the dishes. This worked out great for us as we prefer white wines over red. The favourite wine would have to be the Sparkling blanc de blancs you see featured above. The crisp, complex and refreshing chardonnay has won silver medal in the 2016 Tasmanian wine show and we can understand why. In a close second, the Riesling matched up quite well. Having achieved many awards, the Riesling delivers a floral accent with a pleasing texture. This wine was on the sweeter side as it was not overly acidic.

Sashimi of Tasmanian Stripey Trumpeter 
Paired with Moores Hill- NV Sparkling Blanc de blancs
This was the first course of the evening and it's an important one as first impressions make a difference. We absolutely loved this dish. It was light, fresh and had a feint kick from the fresh wasabi. Accompanying the sashimi was white soy dressing and fresh Tasmanian Wakame which made the difference.

Chilled Somen Noodle Salad of Tasmanian Abalone, Cucumber, Leeks and Ocean Trout Roe
Paired with Moores Hill- 2015 Riesling
This was a first time for us tasting somen noodles, but we have learned that we are clearly fascinated as they were no ordinary noodles. Made from thinly sliced wheat flour, the noodles are best served cold as this dish was plated. Together, it all worked so well together with the subtle saltiness from the ocean trout roe and abalone mixed with the freshness from the somen noodles and cucumber/leeks, We are so luckily to be able to taste such amazing delicate food.

Strange Flavour Pork belly, Sichuan Chilli Oil and Sesame Sauce
Moores Hill- 2016 Pinot Gris
This dish is an intriguing one. The whole night we had wondered what this "strange flavour" could have been and we were anxious for it to arrive at our table to taste. The main flavour throughout was the sesame sauce so we are still wondering what the flavour was. Either way, this dish was a favourite around the table. The pork belly was thinly sliced resulting in a piece of meat that has tenderised enough from cooking to melt the excess fat away, leaving you with a texture so tender that it melts away. 

Steamed Tasmanian Crayfish with Blackbean, Chilli and Garlic
Moores Hill- 2015 Chardonnay
Local produce is the best for two main reasons; it is fresh and we generally keep the best of the mix for local restaurants. The same is definitely true for locally farmed seafood off Tasmania, as Tasmania is reknown for their great seafood wanted globally. Dan Hong told us that both himself and all of the chefs in training spent hours in the kitchen peeling away the crayfish shell, ensuring the most tender and succulent part of the crayfish was not missed, the legs. Did it make the difference? You bet!
The crayfish was the main element and it was perfectly cooked so that you still had a sight crunch to your bite. We went back for seconds and thirds (when the dish was being cleared of course!).

Sweet and Sour Wallaby Tail
Paired with Moores Hill- 2015 Pinot Noir / 2015 Cabernet Merlot
The main conversation throughout the night was about this Wallaby tail. The constant through of "Skippy the roo" and all other of our childhood memories came flourishing back as we thought of eating one of their tails. But when something tastes this good it's sort of easy to put those feelings aside for another day. There wasn't much sweet and sour flavour to these however it was falling off the bone and reminded me of some beef short ribs. Another strong dish that surprised us!

Charcoal Roasted Cape Grim Shortrib “Shandong Style”
Paired with Moores Hill- 2015 Pinot Noir / 2015 Cabernet Merlot
This dish had us confused. We kept referencing back at the menu and while it was the next item to be served, we were expecting beef shortribs rather than lamb. They definitely had all the shandong style flavours throughout, but it was totally different from our expectation!
The meat was tender and there was hardly any fat. So all the flavour quite literally had to come from the lamb which thankfully didn't give off a meaty taste.

Salt and Pepper Flinders Island Lamb Ribs with Fennel and Cumin Salt
Paired with Moores Hill- 2015 Pinot Noir / 2015 Cabernet Merlot
The dish we were holding our breathe for (not literally.. by this time we were already 3.5 hours in to the meal!). Now our stomachs were quite full by this point, and or expectation of this dish was exceeding through the roof based off the dishes prior and the fact that we absolutely love ribs. That said, it didn't quite do it for us. The lamb was slightly dry and chewy. The flavours were great, you could definitely taste the fennel and cumin salt but the meat let the dish down.

Local Sheeps Milk Yoghurt Sorbet 
with jasmine tea jelly and local seasonal berries
Paired with Moores Hill- 2015 CGR Late Harvest Riesling
This is a broadcast message to all of Tasmania. If you know were this sorbet was sourced from please contact us immediately. It is a matter of urgency as it has left a bitter sweet memory in our hearts that we cannot fill. Sweet because it was THE best sorbet we have ever tasted, but bitter because I think this might have been our last time tasting it. The sorbet was sweet and yet the flavour of the sheep milk was evident. It was different to your normal ice cream/sorbet where every mouthful is a spoon of sugar. This was all of those childhood memories we mentioned earlier, being gathered and condensed in the form of a sorbet sphere. The seasonal berries and jasmine tea jelly complimented the sorbet quite well, as they didn't take much away from the sorbet. We want more!

Wow! What a night it was indeed. If you do plan to visit Tasmania (and you should), definitely make this event the top of your list. We are so thankful to have won this dining experience as it was quite different to the events you see us eat at in Sydney. Keep a look out for the next chef in the series, Tetsuya Wakuda, the man himself even cooked here before!