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A feast of schnitzel – from the classics to carp

The Forager

The humble schnitzel is the star of a Tasting Australia event which will see six guest chefs – including Paul Carmichael from Sydney’s acclaimed Momofuku Seiobo and top Austrian chef Philip Rachinger – taking over the kitchen at the Stag Public House.

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Within a festival that features a range of dinners and other exclusive events costing several hundred dollars or more, a SchnittFest promising top-quality schnitties for $46 is bound to tickle the tastebuds.

Add the promise of SA craft beers being pulled by their brewers behind the bar, and it becomes even more enticing.

“I wanted to provide the public with an opportunity to eat our top-tier talent’s food at a gutter price – and I make no apologies for saying that,” Tasting Australia festival director Simon Bryant tells InDaily of the idea behind SchnittFest.

“These chefs are incredibly finessed … Philip [Rachinger] and Paul [Carmichael], in particular, cook for a very high-end market, but what we’re doing is putting them in the context of South Australian icons.

“Last year we had curry night at the Exeter, so this follows on from that.

“It’s about what really resonates and what’s unique to South Australia – and I think schnitties are really loved in South Australia.”

Sydney-based chef Paul Carmichael.

The SchnittFest will take place at the Stag Public House in Rundle Street on April 8, with the chefs also using the kitchen of adjacent restaurant NOLA (operated by the same group as the Stag) to cater for the up to 650 diners expected throughout the evening.

Joining Rachinger and Carmichael on the grills will be South Australians Poh Ling Yeow (Jamface), Jessie Spiby (My Grandma Ben), Matt Eustis (Stag Public House) and artisan producer Saskia Beer.

Each chef will put their own twist on a schnitzel, from traditional veal and chicken options, to what Bryant refers to as more “whacky” dishes such as a carp schnitzel.

He says Rachinger – culinary director of fine-dining hotel-restaurant Muhltalhof in Neufelden, Austria – jumped at the chance to be involved in the event and will cook a traditional veal schnitzel, the way his grandmother taught him to do it, served with parsley potatoes and cranberry sauce.

“He’s going to do the Ur-Schnitzel, which is like the uber schnitzel. He’s called it the ‘Ur-Schnitzel from the Mutterland’ … he’s really embraced it.”

Less traditional will be former MasterChef contestant Jessie Spiby’s two schnitzel dishes: a vegetarian option (crispy sweet potato and potato rosti with spicy harissa yogurt, and Moroccan chickpea salad with pomegranate and pistachio) and a crunchy herbed panko-crumbed carp schnitzel, with fermented carrot and herb slaw, chilli and pickle-dusted fries, and kimchi mayo.

“I think it’s less controversial now,” Bryant says of carp. “It’s been around for about six years as a real product from Coorong Wild Seafood … I love it. It’s really gelatinous and it holds well, so it’s ideal for this sort of thing.”

SA producer Saskia Beer.

Carmichael – head chef of Sydney’s Momofuku Seiobo, which last year placed sixth in the Financial Review‘s Top 100 Restaurants list – has dubbed his dish “Schnitt Happens”. It’s a panko-crumbed Berkshire free-range pork loin with hot mango sauce, Kewpie potato salad with egg, and sweet and sour cabbage pickle.

Poh’s “Love Hate Schnitty” is a Terrarossa Beef rump with anchovy cream sauce, rosemary salted fries and lemon-dressed bitter-leaf salad; Eustis will serve a panko-crumbed venison schnitzel in white bread with plum ketchup and pickled cabbages, plus a side of coleslaw, and Beer will present a free-range corn-fed chicken parmi with buffalo mozzarella, Alnda Farms heirloom tomato sauce and basil, served with mashed potato.

The Stag Public House’s Oliver Brown says it is excited to be hosting the event, and will have brewers from SA craft breweries Mismatch, Little Bang and Pirate Life behind the bar pulling beers.

SchnitfFest bookings are being offered at half-hour intervals throughout the evening, with a strict two-hour limit on seatings and customers required to pre-order their schnitzel.

Bryant says the pre-ordering is necessary to ensure the smooth running of such a big event.

“We can go up to about 650 [people], which is pretty epic.

“We’re trying for a really keen price point and a great atmosphere … the proteins are too expensive to be just guessing what you’re going to end up with, so I hope people understand that. With the logistics involved, it’s the only way to run it properly.

“It’s going to be a good night.”

Tasting Australia announced today that 18 events on the April 5-14 program have already sold out, including two of the banquet dinners in the pop-up Glasshouse Restaurant in Victoria Square – the $310 Fire-themed dinner and the $356 Nouveau-themed dinner.

The Tasting Australia Airlines day trip to Coffin Bar is also sold out, as have four of the East End Cellars Masterclasses being held in the TA Town Square (in Victoria Square).

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