TK PART I TURNING LEAF
It’s the end of August and I’m in the English countryside. As I look out of the window and see the crab apples and pears on the trees; I smell the air - the scent of the early turning leaf makes me reminisce and transports me back to the end of June, where…. I was flown to the other side of the world to be a headline chef at “Truffle Kerfuffle”
I am en-route to the home of one of my favourite truffles in the world…the “tuber melansoporum” the mighty Australian Black. My mate Zak Frost from Wiltshire Truffles had introduced me to them a few years ago, I’d eaten them many times in Brett’s dishes at the Ledbury. When I first got to grips with them in the summer, I was delighted as I wanted a truffle that would stand up next to English baby fennel, raw Hebridean scallops & black truffle but as most chefs know, the summer European ones aren’t naturally very strong.
Anyone who knows me, knows my love of truffles. The sheer thought of them makes my pulse race and my pupils dilate. I have even been known to question a friendship when the “friend” in question declared their distaste of the things. I literally live for them. An expensive habit you may say? As a professional chef it is a luxury I can sometimes afford.
The trip was to be a fun-packed, tight schedule. I had a little over a week to get there and back. As I reclined back in comfort at 35,000ft adorned in Qantas pyjamas I really didn't know what to expect. Flying to the opposite hemisphere always gives me a healthy perspective. I had prepared simple but hopefully aspirational recipes for my demonstration, as they needed to be do-able at home and not too cheffy.
I pick up my hire car and rest overnight in the modern, comfortable and very sexy Westin Hotel. Being far too excited to sleep, I instead make a dint in the mini-bar. I’m up early and I begin the long, four-hour drive south, to Manjimup or rather MAN-JI-MUP! A word, under pressure on Saturday Kitchen LIVE! next to Jamie Oliver & Michel Roux Jnr, I simply couldn't pronounce.
I drive past Margaret River and eventually arrive at the Silkwood estate. A glorious vineyard about 25 minutes away from Manjimup. The rest of the headline chefs are yet to arrive, so I make myself at home in my chalet by the lake, it is so serene and quiet, that I go to sleep wishing I hadn’t watched so many horror films in my youth as every noise, every creek, makes me jump, but finally the jet lag kicks in, and I’m in a glorious slumber.