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Cooking with flowers at Floriade

Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Chefs show that spring is the perfect time to incorporate flowers into your dishes.

The change in season brings a change in menu, and chefs from Canberra and beyond are flocking to Floriade to present their favourite spring dishes to crowds at Commonwealth Park.

In addition to the fabulous dining experiences to be had around Floriade, you can also pick up a cooking tip or two (depending how much time you have to spare!) at The Kitchen Company Tasting Plate.

Claude Fremy with his choc tulip and orange mousse

Claude Fremy in the kitchen

The very first cooking demo for Floriade 2015 was by Canberra’s own Michael Chatto, who somehow managed to fit in a solid Floriade program along with his usual Executive Chef duties at Chifley’s Bar and Grill. Oh and he’s also getting new restaurant Helix Bar and Dining up and running at the soon to be opened Hotel Vibe at Canberra Airport. Despite being one of the busiest people in Canberra right now, he had a few minutes to spare for a chat.

If you’ve seen the menu at Chifley’s, you’ll know that the best quality steak takes pride of place on the menu. I think the highlight of my winter was the phenomenal steak I had at Chifley’s truffle degustation in July (with a menu prepared by Chatto, of course).


Michael Chatto and his father in the kitchen

Chatto also has vast experience cooking seafood working at Pier in Sydney, as well as Artespresso and Italian and Sons here in Canberra.

Given my tendency to either undercook or overcook my fish and steak, of course I had to ask: what’s the secret to cooking protein well?

His answer: “Treating it with respect, and practice.” Back to the kitchen for me then, I’ll just have to keep struggling through. His other advice is to buy the best quality you can afford.

Blue swimmer crab pasta topped with broad bean flowers

Chatto’s menu at Floriade is “a brief of what we’re doing at Kurrajong and the new hotel Helix Bar and Dining,” he says, “simple, and back to the basics”.

The dishes he created included a glazed wagyu flank with a daikon and cucumber salad. Perfectly cooked despite the difficulty of cooking with an electric stove when you’re used to cooking with gas.

Glazed wagyu flank with a daikon and cucumber salad

The second dish was a simple blue swimmer crab pasta topped with broad bean flowers. Other flowers to feature throughout the cooking program are snap dragons, corn flowers, marigolds and zucchini flowers.

Special mention also goes to fellow Canberra local Claude Fremy for his chocolate tulip with orange mousse, a beautiful spring dessert.

Claude Fremy’s chocolate tulip with orange mousse and pansies

The Kitchen Tasting Plate menu continues throughout Floriade with demos on aboriginal cuisine, cake decorating classes and cakes and shakes with the team from Patissez. Check the program for details

the essentials
What: The Kitchen Tasting Plate
Where: Floriade 2015, Commonwealth Park, next to the Lake.
When: Floriade runs from 12 September until 11 October 2015
How much: Free entry to Floriade
Web: floriadeaustralia.com/nightfest/the-kitchen-company-tasting-plate/ 


Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Natassja Hoogstad Hay is a communications professional working in Canberra. An unashamed foodie, she loves cooking and going out to eat, and has a special love of coffee and wine. She’s obsessed with social media (handy in her field!) and is working on perfecting her Instagram game. In her spare time you might find her at a yoga class, cosied up on the couch with a book or the TV, or outside taking photos of beautiful Canberra sunsets. More about the Author