World Gourmet Summit

Story by Julie Mosley

Dietmar Sawyere Dietmar Sawyere

S wiss-Australian chef Dietmar Sawyere; chef-owner of Sydney’s Forty-One restaurant was in Singapore to cook in Doc Chengs, at Raffles Hotel, and at a masterclass during the World Gourmet Summit.

He has many culinary accolades behind him, including Young Chef of the Year 1982 in London; Chef of the Year twice in New Zealand and, recently he and his team were named the most successful team at the Cape Town Gourmet Festival.

Asked what he thinks about New Asia Cuisine, he believes it is redefining some of the more classical approaches to Asian cuisine. Other countries are also doing similar re-workings of classical dishes, he says, citing England as an example.

Prawns in Potato Waistcoats He says the trend in Australia now is represented partly by Vietnamese cuisine and also by a return to old fashioned cooking - ‘old European cooking, brasserie favourites with a simple approach to food, less playing with it’.

However, he says this is happening all over the world, in addition to the trend towards ‘all chefs cooking everything’. His belief is that this tends to dilute a country’s culinary heritage. "It would be a shame for the classic dishes to be put on the back shelf. They need to be re-interpreted and I think it is important for countries to have this heritage and to retain it." He has been disappointed to hear colleagues return from visits to Europe, only to criticise the fact that they have eaten classic French cuisine at places like Bocuse’s and Robuchon’s establishments.

"One of the great things about travel is trying different food, going into the markets and trying different things. It would be a shame if everywhere you go, everyone else’s cuisine seems to be in a form of cross fusion. If this is so, a lot of the character of the place would be lost." Each hotel should feature in its major restaurant, the local cuisine of that country, he says. His visit to South Africa was interesting: "It is probably where Australia was 15 years ago," he says. "When you travel in Europe you know you are there, this is the same for Asia. But in South Africa it was like going to Perth, it felt very much like Australia."

Tartare of yellowfin tuna As someone who loves trying out new restaurants, Chef Sawyere does not subscribe to the school which advocates that chefs should be producing healthy meals for their clients.

He believes that going out for a meal in a restaurant like Forty One - which gives its clientele the opportunity to dress up and to enjoy a spectacular setting overlooking Sydney - this should not be a time for watching calories or cholesterol intake.

"It is theatre and a time for indulgence," he says.


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