Tatler Exclusive: Field Trip with Chef Julien Royer
Julien Royer, chef de cuisine of Jaan, was a special guest chef at the annual Noosa International Food and Wine Festival held in May this year. Aside from cooking up a storm at the eight-course degustation dinner featuring chefs from the World’s Best Restaurant list, Royer also took time out to explore areas beyond Noosa. For two days, Executive Chef Cameron Matthew of The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estate showed Royer around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland where several food producers are based.
The trip kicked off with a visit to the De Brett Seafood (pictured above) and Fishtales, which harvests, processes and markets premium seafood such as spanner crab, tuna and swordfish. This was followed by an artisanal cheese tasting session at Woombye Country Cheese, run by Graham Paynter and his wife as well as Cedar Street Cheeserie, whose owner Trevor Hart produces sublime hand-made buffalo cheeses. The chefs also visited a sprawling farm in Gympie, where they sampled award-winning heirloom tomatoes, kale, black cabbage, baby beans and other fresh produce. We trail Royer on this sumptuous culinary journey and find out more about his experiences in Queensland.
What did you think of the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival?
It was a great success. I enjoyed it a lot. It was very well-organised and all the chefs had very good fun. It could not have been better.
What activities were you involved in?
Among the many activities, we prepared a degustation dinner for 120 persons; we did a cooking demo at the festival grounds; we took part in a forum that focused on global food trends; and we had plenty of interaction with local suppliers and producers.
Which ingredient from Queensland will you consider using for your menu?
The raw spanner crab (pictured above) was excellent and very sweet. And I like the fact that they are very sustainable. The spanner crab will be featured in my summer menu at Jaan. I’ve already experimented with the dish, and it will consist of this crab with avocado, sea urchin and a cold consommé of seafood.
What did you think of the artisanal cheeses?
The texture and taste of the cheese, and level of creaminess was very good. I like them a lot, however they can’t compare with raw milk cheeses, which are more fragrant and have a longer lasting taste.
At the farmer’s market you were introduced to a variety of local produce. What did you think of bush tucker?
It’s very unknown to me and it’s very interesting. But I feel that this kind of indigenous food has to stay in Australia. It’s their story and their history, and they have to celebrate this.
What’s your most memorable experience during the trip?
The chef’s degustation dinner was the most memorable for me. People were all really friendly and we were all on the same wavelength. We could also experience dishes created by the other chefs, which was great. For my dish, I prepared a wagyu beef short ribs, served with horseradish and mushroom ketchup, which is a base of mixed brown Paris mushroom and shoyu. The acidity of this ‘ketchup’ balances the richness of the beef.
Chef Julien Royer at the farmers' market
What or who inspired you most during the trip?
Everything. It’s good to step out of Singapore (although I love it here), to breathe in fresh air, to soak in the nice environment, to listen to the sound of the sea, to see wild life… this is a source of inspiration for me. And of course the people we meet. It was inspiring to see so many different producers doing so many different things, such as this guy who was doing pickled caper leaves. I’ve never seen that before and found that very interesting.
Also, I was inspired to see what other chefs from Australia and abroad were doing. At the degustation dinner, there was no competition although there were seven other chefs cooking in the same kitchen. It wasn’t about who’s doing the best dish. It was really about sharing ideas, and where we were coming from. Plus there was no ego at all. We had a lot of fun and the atmosphere was great. If possible I’d like to go back next year.