We dine a little differently these days. Of course, we always eat out and most of our restaurants have proven time and time again that they can withstand any storm, whether it’s a harsh winter or another wave of winter. pandemic. Some of us cook more at home, and for many, food helps us form new relationships or reform old ones.
But there are still nights when it’s too cold or too small to go outside. And so here we are as I write, with another looming threat of lockdown, filling our pantries with staples and our bathrooms with extra toilet paper. And the restaurants are prepared, with their unforeseen events just in case. Many chefs now have the experience of turning their kitchens into manufacturing centers, with ready meals and take out for those unfamiliar with the hotplate of a pan.
One of those leaders is Paul Baker. A former chef at the acclaimed and award-winning Botanic Gardens restaurant, he created a new business using his adaptability, ingenuity and ability to turn a few carefully selected ingredients into a ready-to-eat meal.
During the darkest times of our food and hospitality industry at the start of last year, Paul was ready to connect. He got in touch with producers whose supplies were destined to deteriorate. He connected with other chefs who had tried and tested recipes that could be made in bulk while still delivering flavor and quality when they landed on your doorstep. Some of them even worked in his kitchen when the restaurant doors were closed.
And, more importantly, he connected with we, stuck at home with our microwaves and cellphones, with Uber Eats in the screen of our most used apps. The digital world has changed the way we buy and order, and Paul’s team has gone from culinary experts to digital masters. Above all, word of mouth sold this new concept and today, over a year later, Chefs on Wheels is still delivering.
Will we ever cook again?
So here we are sitting in a rather nice dining area, overlooking an open kitchen that could use a facelift. I love this table, and I wonder who chose these new lights? Looks like someone spent last year’s vacation budget on some new cutlery as well. The cutlery can use shoe polish and whoever poured the wine has really overfilled the glasses, but who are we to judge? Tonight, we eat at home and Chefs on Wheels offers a selection of dishes from afar.
The preheated oven and the instructions are easy to follow. Most dishes are all-in-one wonders, but there are others you can add for variation: nothing crazy – just a side salad, sauce, or garnish here and there. Everything else is provided. The website lets you thematize your dinners with options that include an Italian or Indian feast, Thai if you like, or family favorites. Snacks and bestsellers read like a typical restaurant menu and, yes, they even make desserts.
First off, the roti pouches are stuffed with silver beets, spinach, and ricotta. Heated from the freezer, there is a bit of concern at first that we might be in a heavy result, but through their testing and trials, they managed to make the invigorated bread-shaped pastry crates incredibly flaky with a little crunch. the edges. The filling is hearty and tasty, like a kind of well-filled dough, with hints of dill, mint and lemon zest. A mint parmesan sauce (from last week’s leftovers) is the perfect accompaniment.
A family-sized Thai massaman beef curry comes hot from the oven with a sauce that is a little too runny for my taste, but that’s nothing a little siphon and a reduction on the stovetop can’t fix. Served with a 90 Second Jasmine Rice from the Locking Staple Pantry that I never quite got through and we are once again on a real winner. It’s sweet, thanks to its coconut base, and packed with flavors offered by a long list of herbs and spices like lemongrass, chili, star anise, and kaffir lime (all of which are also clearly indicated on the website and packaging – those with dietary requirements, rejoice).
Then from Thailand to France: it’s coq au vin with baby potatoes and basil pesto on the side. It’s a nice twist on a classic, with a creamy wine-tasting sauce and tender chicken that crumbles with the slightest encouragement of a fork. The potatoes are a bit overdone, but maybe I forgot to set the timer… anyway, they form a sort of mash that is OK and soak up a bit more of that sauce.
Keeping it à la carte, we prepare a boeuf bourguignon with more potatoes which this time keep their shape. The meat crumbles under the impact and the thick sauce, with a typical bacon flavor, coats a mixture of finely chopped vegetables that add volume to this delicious dish.
Obviously, someone has gone a little carb crazy while ordering, as the oven rings to remind us of a mac and cheese with collard greens and bacon that has been kept warm. It’s an effort to be made but well worth it – less cheesy than expected but, given the wealth of other dishes to date, it’s a pleasant surprise. As it turns out, mac and cheese is also a great plate-to-mouth vehicle for the rest of the beef bourguignon sauce.
That side of the salad mentioned earlier isn’t touched, but it’s not the Chefs on Wheels fault. I can only blame them now for our final showdown with sticky fig and ginger pudding. This one is cooked “fresh” from frozen dough – unheated – and the method works. It’s a delicious cake-like pudding that has a tangy ginger scent but tastes subtle in comparison. It’s hot and sticky as promised and a generous dollop of caramel ice cream melts in its center in accord.
As we work to scrape the last of our plates, we reflect: will we ever cook again? And who drank all this wine?
Chefs on wheels
For menus, ordering details and other information, visit the Chefs of Wheels website: chefsonwheels.com.au
Chefs on Wheels delivers to the Adelaide metro area and parts of regional South Australia.
Check your postal code here.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.