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Deconstructing & Reconstructing the Classics with Modern Techniques

Our hospo scene is a vibrant tapestry woven from indigenous ingredients, multicultural influences, and a love for fresh, seasonal produce. But what about those iconic dishes that hold a special place in our hearts? This is where deconstruction and reconstruction come in, offering a chance to reimagine these classics with a touch of modern flair and surprise.

Icons – A Hospo Breakdown

Deconstruction involves taking a well-loved dish and breaking it down into its individual components. Consider the beloved Pavlova, a meringue base piled high with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Deconstructing it allows us to analyse its essence – the light and airy meringue, the sweet cream, and the vibrant fruit flavours.

Modern Techniques Take Centre Stage

Once deconstructed, the fun begins! Modern techniques like spherification, foams, and gels become the tools for reconstruction. Imagine a Pavlova Remix: a base of deconstructed meringue shards, a dollop of coconut cream foam infused with kaffir lime, and vibrant spheres of passionfruit and mango, all drizzled with a native wattleseed caramel sauce. This reinterpretation maintains the essence of the Pavlova – sweetness, lightness, and fruity flavours – but with a distinctly local twist. Renowned chef, Peter Gilmore, is known for his playful deconstructions, and his "Snow Egg" dessert offers a similar approach, showcasing the versatility of this technique.

Preserving the Essence with a Modern Twist

Innovation is exciting, but it's crucial to maintain a balance between the familiar and the surprising. The deconstructed dish should still evoke the memory of the original, but with a new and delightful twist. For example, a deconstructed Lamington might feature a base of coconut crumb "soil," a cube of raspberry gel infused with rosewater, and a dark chocolate espuma (foam) – all reminiscent of the classic pink-iced sponge cake, but presented in a visually stunning and texturally playful way.

Practical Tips for Deconstructing the Classics

  • Start with a Strong Foundation: Choose a well-loved dish with a clear flavour profile and distinct components.Consider a Chicken Parmigiana, where the elements are easily identifiable – crispy crumbed chicken breast, rich tomato sauce, gooey melted cheese, and a side of chips.

  • Identify the Key Elements: Break down the Chicken Parmigiana and analyse its essential parts – the crispy coating on the chicken, the tangy tomato sauce, the gooey melted cheese, and the salty chips.

  • Embrace Modern Techniques: Experiment with foams, spheres, gels, and other techniques to reimagine each element. Imagine a Deconstructed Chicken Parmigiana: a base of parmesan crisp "soil," a sphere of slow-cooked tomato sugo bursting with flavour, a cube of mozzarella "snow," and chicken "oysters" made with sous vide chicken breast coated in a panko crumb.

  • Maintain Balance: Don't get carried away with innovation! Ensure the deconstructed Chicken Parmigiana still evokes the original and offers a harmonious combination of flavours and textures.

  • Presentation is Key: Plating becomes an art form in deconstructed dishes. Use creativity to arrange the elements of the deconstructed Chicken Parmigiana in a visually stunning and thought-provoking way. Consider layering the soil, mozzarella snow, and sugo sphere, with the chicken oyster artfully placed on top. When plating, utilise negative space effectively, create height with elements, and use vibrant colours to make the dish visually appealing.

Inspiration for Deconstruction:

  • Deconstructed Vegemite on Toast: Imagine a base of sourdough "soil," a dollop of whipped ricotta infused with bush tomato, a dehydrated vegemite crisp, and a micro herb salad. This playful deconstruction reimagines the iconic breakfast with a touch of elegance and utilises native ingredients.

  • Deconstructed Vanilla Slice: Think of a base of puff pastry shards, a dollop of vanilla bean custard foam, a layer of caramelised banana gel, and a shard of white chocolate. This deconstructed version offers a lighter and more visually stunning interpretation of the classic dessert.

  • Deconstructed Snag in Bread: Imagine a base of dehydrated potato "soil," a kangaroo sausage "lollipop" glazed with wattle seed, a dollop of tomato chutney foam, and a sprinkle of Davidson plum dust. This deconstruction takes the classic snag in bread and elevates it with native ingredients and innovative techniques.

A Celebration of Local Flavours

Deconstruction and reconstruction offer a way to celebrate local flavours and reimagine our hospo heritage. By taking inspiration from the past and embracing the possibilities of the present, chefs like Ben Shewry and Shannon Bennett can create dishes that surprises diners while staying true

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