Bulla Cream weekend with George Calombaris [PICS GALORE]

Discussion in 'Geek Food' started by RETARD, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. RETARD

    RETARD New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2001
    Messages:
    4,048
    Location:
    Adelaide
    Greetings fellow masticaters!

    Some of you may remember just a couple of months ago, i submitted an application with Bulla Cream hoping to be chosen as one of their 3 brand ambassadors.
    As today is a public holiday i thought i would make an effort to share the experience as best as my alzhiemic mind will allow. (points for making up the word alzhiemic?)
    After some minor (but persistent) harassment, a facebook friend convinced me to submit an entry.
    An explanation of what's up for grabs is explained in this video by George.



    EDIT - added in a bloopers video



    So with nothing to lose but my dignity, self confidence and belief in knowing good flavours, i forwarded my submission :Paranoid:
    The written application included a brief out line of my love with food, a special mention of this forum (amongst other things) & a signature dish, which unsurprisingly was Chicken Tikka Masala
    I thought most people would submit a dessert dish however in an effort to be unique (and lets be honest im quite unique) i decided to go with my most viewed recipe on this forum, so thanks for making the choice easy for me :leet:

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    My submission was quite late in the campaign so i held only slim hopes of being successful as they may have already chosen suitable applicants.
    However, a couple of weeks later i received a phone call at work congratulating me on being short listed :D Woo!
    Some obligatory background checks, sign some confidentiality agreements, a talent release form (in case i should have some talent) and i was booked for a weekend to 'cook-off' with 5 other ppl in Melbourne before i knew it :thumbup:
    From memory this was just before Christmas - merry xmas to me :)
    Oh .. PS: btw you can't tell anyone about it either :shock: That was probably the hardest part. Its like knowing you won the lottery but still had to goto work and not say anything :thumbdn:

    Friday afternoon:
    Melb Temperature 38 deg C with a late change (not good cream weather lol)
    I flew out from Adelaide - Gate 13 .. not my first choice ... I'm superstitious about the number 13 (i won't even put the volume on my car stereo to 13)
    It was already turning into a food weekend ... look at all the sardines!
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    At the other end I was met by a driver and taken to the heart of Melbourne where everyone was to stay at the 4.5 star Rydges Hotel. Very excite!
    Time was a bit on the short side as the Friday afternoon peak traffic was down to a crawl. In fact the 655km flight from Adelaide to Melbourne took less time.
    So 1 hour to get checked in, unpack all my belongings (I'm a bit OCD for those that don't know, and a lot OCD for those that do lol)
    have a shower and get down stairs to meet in the lobby, where we would all meet for the first time, pile into the mini bus out front and head to Georges newest restaurant Mama Baba.

    The Obligatory hotel window shot.
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    Arriving at Mama Baba
    I'm glad we had one of the Melbourne girls with us because the driver had NO IDEA where to go.
    Did he have GPS? i think so ...
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    For those that haven't been, the restaurant is below street level, down some stairs to the left.
    Basically 'the line' (kitchen) on one side, the bar / Dj on the other and a whole heap of diners inbetween.
    It was slightly dark but very upbeat and welcoming, very different to anything in Adelaide.
    I loved it.

    A panoramic shot with my iPotato
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    You can imagine the surreal moment when George came to greet us all personally.
    We didn't want to be too rude but we managed to get in some sneaky Chuck Norris ninja shots.
    Speaking of Chuck Norris, one of our waiters for the night (Lochie??) bared a stark resemblance to him .. i even told him so :D
    He was very attentive and really made the night more fun that it already was.
    The lady on the left is Meg, a representative from Bulla Cream.
    We were slightly concerned about the ratio of manners:fun we should be displaying but Meg was already a couple drinks up on us by the time we arrived and made us feel very welcome and relaxed.

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    Food anyone?
    keep in mind it was a bit dark and we didn't want to leave the impression of being complete knobs taking photos of everything, so these are but a few of the many many many dishes of that night.
    But believe me when i say there was food galore.
    In fact we were truly content about 5 courses in ... i think that was around half way mark
    We were eating for Africa ...

    Prawn stuffed ravioli
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    One of the Vegetarian Options
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    One of the many bottles of wine consumed that night.
    This was my fave drink of the night ... (the drink supply seemed endless)
    I'm useless at remembering drinks so taking a photo is normally a good way to go.
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    Dessert Time!
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    Stuffed donut holes & a version of Eaton Mess (not the official names but the best my alcohol riddled mind could remember)
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    Another mini bus trip ... we all seemed to gel pretty well (maybe it was the booze) It was going to be a great weekend no matter what.
    we all pretty much went to our rooms to get some shut eye ready for a big day ahead.
    Sadly my 'shut eye' lasted between 1:00 - 3:00 am. Perhaps it was too much thinking, sleeping in a strange bed or the garbage trucks that could be heard outside (even from 13 stories up) yep the 13th floor! I was beginning to think i was cursed ... gate 13, level 13 ... OMG!

    So with not much sleep, 2 lots of the number 13 haunting me, what else could go wrong?
    With nothing else to do but watch tele, i quickly became aware of a viral video being featured on the early news programs.
    It was of 2 brothers being filmed by their father, they were conveying a message to the world that using the word 'retard' wasn't acceptable.
    This in particular related to their down syndrome brother who had been taunted online and called retard.
    Was my luck about to run out? We're the people selecting the ambassadors watching this and thinking of me? Oh my!


    Saturday - Cook off & photo shoot
    Temperature 23 deg C - thankfully!

    Breakfast ...
    3 of us agreed to meet down stairs early and find a cafe for brekky. We had formed a 'cool group' already, just like school ha! :D
    Having no idea where to go, we walked around like lost shepherds in the hope of finding something delicious.
    Now you wouldn't think that was challenging to do in the middle of Melbourne would you? but let's just say we started out very picky ... and then as time flew by our standards dropped rather dramatically :lol:
    I honestly wasn't that hungry but some poached eggs and a coffee went down like a charm.

    Back to the hotel, a change of clothes and Into the mini bus again.
    I have no idea what direction or where we went to (it wasn't on the itinerary) but we ended up in a studio kitchen / warehouse.
    It didn't look like much from out front but about 10 steps inside the door and the place looked fantastic, something you would expect on a set of Masterchef Australia.
    Some cooking stations, boxes of fresh vegetables spread around the place, a pantry full of wonderful produce, fancy lighting & a whole heap of friendly people.
    They were awaiting our arrival along with what seemed to be a dozen camera's.
    It was about this time a particular feeling came over us (the term shit scared rings a bell) and the epicness of what we were about to participate in resonated with us a bit more deeply.
    A bit dramatic perhaps but, but we all felt strongly about trying to achieve our best.

    Time to don some name tags and look around.
    Look! I am the only bloke :Pirate:
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    first look at the studio
    1 person to each bench - Here you can see some basic storage underneath.
    we all had 4 gas burners, some pots n pans, mixing bowls knives, whisks, tea towels etc (more on that later)
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    meet Travis - the head chef from Helenic Republic
    Travis had arrived early to prep for the master class. We later discovered after a long day with us he was off to do a dinner service for 250 people :leet:
    he is tough! You can tell as his stance here looks like he is about to teach a Karate Class.
    A sign of things to come grasshopper?
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    wider shot of the lunch table / master class area
    Just in case we weren't full from the million plates of food the night before, we had a catered lunch plus all the food we were cooking through out the day.
    Forgive the horrible photo
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    from the other direction
    The chef here setting up table, was the owner of this establishment.
    Amongst other things they also do corporate days, which he said was quite popular.
    (i believe) They produce the some of the items for sale in the store that resides in the background.
    Awesome guy - i felt bad as i think he (and his team) got landed with the clean up & doing dishes through out the day.
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    The Store
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    Me quietly shitting myself before things kick off
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    one of the many work stations
    The girls making sure things are organised for us
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    the T Garage girls discussing the day ahead (they are superstars)
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    George gathering everyone to meet formally.
    He looks ready for business does he not?
    George did a nice little intro about his history with Bulla before handing the stage over to us, where we each talked about ourselves briefly :shock:
    Normally not a problem, but something about a room full of strangers watching you, all with iPhones and cameras recording what you are saying was a bit freaky.
    We all survived - i think my face became numb shortly afterwards

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    First up was photographs.
    And i mean ALOT of photographs. This group one took the pressure off a bit, (Yes i think my face was still numb here)
    but it was followed by numerous individual shots, standing in different ways, holding different things, 'pretending' to hold different things, wearing different clothes.
    Once i survived this I knew for me the rest of the day would be alright. The most uncomfortable stuff was over and done with.

    From left to right:
    Leonie (Albury Woodonga), Sarah (Adelaide), Some guy called RETARD (Adelaide), George Calombaris (as if you didn't know), Jo (Sydney), Sofia (Melbourne), Kim (Sydney)
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    Lets start with an Omlette challenge:

    The story is told that occasionally George asks his apprentices to cook an omelette. Its the simplest of things but can easily be done wrong.
    It gives him a good idea of our understanding with food at a basic level.
    The cooking was easy .. however the part where not all of the benches have the same utensils makes it slightly harder.
    Whisk? Salt/pepper? Cream? Butter? EVOO?
    where are they? do you have a whisk over there?
    This was the premise for the day ahead ...
    Aside from that we had people floating around with cameras, asking us basic questions like what are you making? what are you doing now? why are you dong that? What does that do?
    So the extra elements of not knowing where things are, cooking in a different kitchen to our regular ones, pans that cook very differently to the ones we normally use, trying to work cleanly, answering questions we may not know the answer to at the time lol - all can add up to an outer body experience of epic proportions.

    Here is Travis and George doing the rounds tasting our omelette's.
    Jo here looks pretty happy :p
    Mine was seasoned well, with good consistency but ever so slightly overcooked on the outer edge.
    When they said they liked my simple approach to flavours - i knew not to bother with fancy foods / flavours / plating for the rest of the day.
    I've watched enough tv shows to know not to be a fancy pants when you don't have to be.
    [​IMG]

    Now learn how to make the perfect one:

    Our first master class. George was incredibly relaxed and sincere with us.
    If we had any doubts about what kind of person he would be then this set the precedence - a genuinely awesome guy :thumbup:
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    Next up: Pan fried Snapper, Spinach & Parsley Cream Reduction w/ Linguine & Creme Fraiche

    Take notes carefully people because after i'm finished, you are going to recreate the same thing.
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    Georges version:

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    If the first dish was fairly easy then the next one was rather different.
    Filleting and cooking fish, creating & reducing puree's, cooking freshly made pasta, sharing 1 blender between 6 people, where is the collander? do you have anything to plate up on?
    lol - it was a bit manic. but we all survived somehow
    here's the recipe and my version i made once i got home (minus the pasta making) http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=1069242
    Lucky i have a good memory because 'the clean up' gang threw out our notes inbetween.

    The dreaded 20 min Mystery Box Challenge:

    well it was bound to happen wasn't it?
    I'd be lying if i remembered exactly what was in that mystery box but can remember
    Zucchini flowers, Vegemite, chicken wingettes (they were already butchered :D ), beetroot & goats cheese. Luckily we were allowed to use some basic staple to help us across the line.
    George said there would be extra points for using the Vegemite but i wasn't getting suckered into that... wtf was i going to do with Vegemite lol?
    I kept it simple with some Creamy mash potato (EVOO, salt, cream, butter - i hear chefs like butter) Asparagus with lemon and some perfectly cooked chicken wingettes.
    The fun part was discovering there was no potato masher :shock: so i had to make do with a fork, a small bowl & the gravitational field of my gyrating man boobs to get the job done :D
    PS: have you ever tried to boil water then cook, drain, mash, season & whisk potatoes with in 20 mins?
    throw in some chaos, cameras and a room full of people and tell me how you get along :p

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    hard at work ...
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    Success - Tasted and approved by George & Travis
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    Sofia's Mystery Box creation
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    Sarah's vegetarian creation
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    A short break for lunch - yes more food to eat - we came no where near to eating all that was provided :(
    Bulla's catering is very generous to say the least.

    Georges Next Masterclass
    We are shown the art of poaching a chicken, breaking down a chicken
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    George breaking it down like a boss
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    Only Chuck Norris & George Calombaris can throw a chicken into the air, kill, pluck, butcher & stuff it before it hits the ground.
    and all with out using a knife :eek:
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    preparing the micro vegetables for sautéing
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    Its about this stage i realise the difference in composure between our efforts & George & Travis.
    Obviously there is a mammoth difference in skill level, nonetheless it was very impressive & inspirational to watch up close.
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    Taste test for quality control :D
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    the famous 'splat'
    We're told that the 'smear' isn't the popular thing to do any more.
    So we watch George carefully place some fermented garlic paste (thats the black stuff) and promptly smash it with the back of a spoon.
    Splat! I nearly killed my self laughing!
    I'm glad it didn't make its way over to my clothes, although i could have sold them as a special autographed series on ebay yes?
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    plating up is never this easy for me :/
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    the official shot
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    some laughter - i think this was induced when we realised we got out of having to make that last dish.
    Phew!!!
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    Back to the hotel we go!
    shower then relax for 30 mins on the bed.
    A few of us met down stairs for drinks in the lounge before heading our separate ways for dinner.

    Red Spice Road (QV) - epic place & food
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    So given that we were spending a shit tonne of money i thought it was a good time to fake a birthday!
    My friends were quite proud to tell the staff about my weekend & i thought it couldn't hurt much more if decided to embellish with my pretend birthday.
    15 mins later a couple of the crew gathered around and sang for me :) My evil pan had worked. yay :)
    im not sure if they believed me or not .. but i tipped them $40 for their fine efforts :thumbup:


    So needless to say this was the beginning of a VERY long and alcohol fueled night.
    My friends and i stayed awake the entire night, visiting many places around Melbourne.
    I can confirm that the Crown sells shots of Johnny Green for $38 each at 7:30am (there may have been a dick head tax applied)
    It did slightly taste disgusting (not the thing to be drinking after a cocktail of other things through out the night) it was my last drink, it was time to get a cab and find some coffee and croissants.
    This body isn't made for that anymore :lol: but it was fun to indulge. All i know is that i won't be doing that anytime again soon.
    Not surprisingly my stomach was about 5 inches bigger from all the liquid i presume & i felt rather 'green'.
    2 hours sleep for the entire weekend, loads of food & booze and a 36 year old body will do that to you.
    So what better thing to do than go out for lunch to celebrate the weekend :sick:


    Sunday Helenic Republic:

    Helenic Republic is bright and Vibrant, again with a busy/communal atmosphere
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    We got shuffled to the VIP room where George and Travis thought it was best to kick off with the announcements so we could all enjoy our meal
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    After a celebratory man hug (i dont think a kiss was appropriate even for a greek boy lol) the winners were announced (does that shirt look familiar?)
    WINNING!
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    Wall decoration ... Greek Style
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    What else to do than eat more food?
    I was very polite in my approach to the food and drink, however i didn't want to seem impolite to the people picking up the tab so i did my utmost :thumbup:

    Crumbed Scallops
    these were at Mama Baba also - they were seafood crack cocaine with a cheesy sauce below. Un-freaking believable!
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    Grilled prawns
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    Greek Cola anyone?
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    Let there be more food with the Awesome Bulla / TGarage team
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    we are uber cool in the VIP room but not as 'VIP' as the table just the other side of that glass window.
    George had his family in for lunch, the girls couldn't stop staring at his brother. Sofia tried to take some 'unsuspecting' photos but was busted! :lol:
    They had to spill the beans when George came in to interrogate.
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    Salmon anyone?
    where is all this food meant to go again?
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    The best dessert of my life. I'm going to try dig up a recipe from George for this one.
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    There can never be too much coffee.
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    From the official Bulla pages
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    Coming up: I have already submitted something for print in the food section of the Adelaide paper & i'll be out and about in the next few weeks cooking something up for the community (although where it will be isn't confirmed yet)
    It was all great fun, and more than i ever thought i would achieve with my passion for food. Perhaps some of you will gain some inspiration to go ahead with your dreams / goals.
    If RETARD can do it, so can you :D

    and if you're still alive after reading though all that and would like to follow me to the other side ...
    Feel free to check in at www.dollopofhappy.com.au & come support my written recipes with a 'comment or dollop' of love (you will see alot of them i already share on here, but i'd still love a visit)
    Also at the Bulla Cream facebook page has the occasional update of whats happening too:thumbup:

    Thanks for reading :)

    A big thanks to you all for your words of support before i went away. It meant a great deal to read through them all, also a special thank you to Ma Baker too.

    Now go cook some of my recipes :)

    Paul

    xo
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  2. BeanerSA

    BeanerSA Member

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    Awesome mate. I'm thrilled for you. You are a most deserving recipient of such a prize.
     
  3. Veilspade

    Veilspade Member

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    Bloody Fantastic!!

    Congrats and well done!
     
  4. sbm888

    sbm888 Member

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    Thanks for sharing this with us Paul. I'm sure there'll be bigger things waiting for you now, just don't forget about us :upset:
     
  5. HumbleBum

    HumbleBum Member

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    Aww Yeah.. Well done Paul, fantastic result!
     
  6. Strange1

    Strange1 Member

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    Awesome job mate well done :) :thumbup:
    I'm not a foodie but I still read the whole thing :D
     
  7. STINGA

    STINGA Member

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    Sounds like an awesome weekend! Well done mate. :thumbup:

    Is any of this going to be televised?
     
  8. -Shay-

    -Shay- Member

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    No wonder that snapper looked so freaking delicious haha!

    Totally get that wink besides the cream now
     
  9. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    Great write-up Paul, Agg should put this on the front page :thumbup:
     
  10. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    At last! I saw your recipe for the fish, but wondered how the event had turned out. All that wonderful food! I'd end up as big as a barn if I had that laid on for me all the time. I don't understand how chefs can stay "unfat". Congratulations on getting selected.
     
  11. hsvguy

    hsvguy Member

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    Great effort and great read. Well done mate. :thumbup:
     
  12. zandahar

    zandahar Member

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    Mate that's awesome nice work :thumbup: :thumbup: Been drooling over your food here for ages. +1 for the front page.

    Best part of your write up was the SPLAT that's classic.
     
  13. ph3var

    ph3var Member

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    I think the photo of the cream team should of been 5 guys and 1 girl not 5 girls and 1 guy :lol:

    Half way through reading and had to post that sorry.

    EDIT:
    Congrats mate. Your an insperation to the rest of us here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  14. scrantic

    scrantic Member

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    Nice work Retard look forward to your recipes posts.
     
  15. wsmith

    wsmith Member

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    Congratulations RETARD.
    Big fan of your recipes on here, glad you are getting some further recognition for your outstanding work.

    Your Chicken Tikka is my favourite recipe, made it again just last weekend.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  16. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    Awesome stuff mate! Congratulation! :thumbup:
     
  17. Johnbu

    Johnbu Member

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    Congratulations!!! Sounds like you had a ball.

    First time in Melbourne?

    Sounds like you have a man crush on George! :lol:
     
  18. jtir

    jtir Member

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    Well deserved champ, you have done great.

    But don't stop your excellent food recipe and photos threads, I read and learn from all of them.
     
  19. Jesmol

    Jesmol Member

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    Awesome work ....
     
  20. Deidameia

    Deidameia Member

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    Nice one! You definitely made that write up engaging. :thumbup:
     

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