The pop up restaurant Good Fat By Australian Avocados in Surry Hills is the latest of my consulting gigs. It was in the old Marque restaurant site. The revamp looked amazing, from the green neon to the fun feature wall of avocados, a great deal of thought and work had gone into the look of this project.
I was called four days into the event, after the opening Saturday was busier than expected and the pop up was left without enough food to open on the following day. I managed to manoeuvre some of my existing commitments, but of course, I had to jump at the opportunity to have arguably the most popular ingredient to any Australian cafe menu as one of my largest clients. To be able to showcase the avocado in a manor fitting for such an incredibly diverse and versatile ingredient was important to me. The beloved ingredient is often the victim of just smashing and spreading on toasted sourdough.
With such short notice, a "dynamic" menu and an immediate start date, we had to work smart to reign in the last three weeks of this month long activation. Luckily, I had plenty of ideas.
It was a fast paced, intense scenario which can be a recipe for a lot of pressure. I have been involved in my fair share of openings, kitchen restructuring, menu/recipe development and high paced, stressful environments. With more than fifteen years experience including 3 Michelin-starred restaurants, I felt quite comfortable taking the helm. As any professional in the industry will understand, there is a lot of work involved in taking something over that has already started and serving food that is up to your personal standard.
I made a checklist of recommendations essential to the workflow and quality required, whether it was recipes or dishes. My personal favourite was adapting the avocado and tarragon salsa into a real avocado-based Bearnaise sauce. An extensive list of changes was executed to refine the offering. Well aware that there was only three weeks left and not wanting to create too much of a ripple, the client and I decided it would be best to not overhaul the entire menu but to instead make the necessary tweaks and adjust the costings. It didn't take too long to get the kitchen running smoothly and with the help of an amazing team, we were serving up food within the 10-15 minute window, even on the busiest of days.
Next time I'd like to be there from the beginning and have my personality, style and dishes deeply reflected throughout the activation. Regardless, I got to work with an amazing group of people that involved several very talented chefs: Jason Ludwig (Passion Ate the Chef), Rosco, Elai amongst other rockstars that came in when they could, and Sam Bartolazo, a young and enthusiastic chef who is very capable. It is always a pleasure seeing people grow and develop in front of your eyes and we could see it everyday. With this team, there were plenty of ideas and philosophies thrown around and I think we all left with a greater appreciation of our trade and each other.
It was great working with the various stakeholders and showing them what is achievable, even at the last minute. It felt good to bring my expertise, stability and direction to match everyone's creative ability and enthusiasm. Overall, it was an enriching experience to be apart of and I made many professional connections, fully organised and systemised the kitchen, participated in live and recorded radio interviews, developed ingredient-specific recipes, styled several of the new and refined dishes to camera and held live demonstrations. Whatever needed to be done! And despite the last minute nature of things, I really enjoyed myself.
If you have or know someone who owns a cafe or restaurant that needs professional guidance, please do not hesitate to get in contact. For more information visit www.cheftommyprosser.com