Last year I was one of the official bloggers for Buy West Eat Best’s 2014 WA Signature Dish. I covered the Perth metro region and proudly supported the journey of foodie cravings reader Rhiannon Birch. Rhiannon made it to the finals with her Lupin and Za’atar Crumbed Droper Lamb Cutlets dish and was crowned 2014’s WA Signature Dish.
This year I was in Europe when the search for WA’s Signature Dish commenced so I haven’t been following the competition as closely but my writer Tania has! This is her post about 2015’s WA Signature Dish followed by an interview with Matt Preston.
Travel just three hours south of Perth and you’ll discover a breathtakingly beautiful town that offers first class wineries, restaurants and breweries, nestled in picturesque surroundings that include; Karri forests, natural caves and pristine beaches. If that doesn’t entice you to Margaret River, then maybe the chance to sample WA’s local produce, in the form of specially cooked dishes by the finalists of WA’s Signature Dish might.
In only its second year, the competition asks entrants to submit a recipe online from which a total of eight people were chosen to compete in a semi-final. The final four, each representing a different region of WA, were then to required to spend time with a mentor chef to perfect their dish, before appearing in the 60 minute live cook-off Grand Final which this year took place in Margaret River’s Gourmet Escape.
Their successful recipes, which showcase the local produce for that region, are listed below:
Cone Bay Barramundi with green mango and mizuna salad by Arylene Westlake-Jennings
Gascoyne seafood broth with Shark Bay wild prawns by Jerolina Rankin
Swan Valley and Surrounds
Lemon myrtle marron laksa inspired curry by fellow Perth food blogger Matt Cook of Inspired Food
Harvey Beef Eye Fillet seasoned with bush tomato, native thyme and pepperberry with wine jus by Rachel Hartshorn
At the Margaret River Gourmet Escape on Sunday 22nd November, the final was hosted by renowned food critic Rob Broadfield and judged by acclaimed chef, Guillaume Brahimi, Masterchef star, Matt Preston and Michelin-starred Head Chef Shane Osborn.
They voted Jerolina Rankin’s dish as the best because her “culinary talent and the balance of flavours in the dish” were exceptional. Brahimi said, “Western Australia has some of the best produce in the world and Jerolina’s dish represents the flavours of the Gascoyne region beautifully, without overdoing it. It’s simple, fresh and delicious.”
Jerolina wins a trip for two to Broome, staying at the Cable Beach Resort, plus a mentorship with Guillaume Brahimi in his French restaurant, Bistro Guillaume in Crown Perth, for two days. She says, “I have had so much fun throughout the whole competition, from choosing a hero ingredient and creating a dish that represents the flavours of WA, to working with my mentor chef Peter Manifis and now winning today. It’s been a great experience.”
Whilst the People’s Choice Award went to Rachel Hartshorn which was voted by attendees to the Margaret River Gourmet Village who were privileged to be able to taste the finalist’s dishes and decide on their favourite.
It’s certainly a way of putting WA firmly on the map, especially with the inclusion of foodie expert Matt Preston, who hails from the east. We asked him a few questions while he was here:
Was it tough to choose Jerolina Rankin’s Shark Bay Wild Prawns as 2015’s WA Signature Dish or was it a clear winner?
We are so excited to hear you love Alfred’s Kitchen as it is one of our favourites. What types of restaurants or food would you like to see more of in Perth or Australia? Any other Perth favourites?
As I write this I am sitting on the deck of the Shorehouse. It’s amazing there are not more beachside restaurants serving fresh crisp modern cuisine.
What do you see as the next emerging food trend in Australia?
Return of technique driven cuisine, cooking over open fires and WA soya beans and Boab.
On that aromatic note, do yourselves a favour and venture south, or north or anywhere in WA really, you might just be surprised what you find on your plate. It could be the next WA Signature dish winner.
Tania is a freelance writer who makes the most of Perth’s spectacular weather by frequenting coastal cafes, preferring to hibernate in the winter. Tasty food, ice-cold drink and interesting companion or can’t-put-down book are all the simple pleasures she needs to get through the day.