Life is more fun if you play games
When I was a little girl I remember very clearly (egged on by my bushy headed cousin) emptying the entire contents of my mums kitchen cupboard in order to make my very own very delicious marvelous medicine. And though the petit filous, salmon and ketchup extravangza I created was not one of joy, I like to think it is this childish sense of playfulness that drives the creativity in our own culinary creations as adults.
When developing the latest menu in chats with our head chef Stuart, play was a major theme. As each week progressed we went from crashing cars to building tracks and our childish games developed into fully-fledged tastiness. One of our favorite experimentations was our well beloved Convict. And to give you an idea one of our customers describes it as "gods answer to the egg mc muffin". Each week the convict would grow more and more epic with a ‘hash brown’ or a layer of Moen’s and Sons sausage pattie being added. Playful does not however mean simple with some of the best stories I’ve ever read being in the most childish of books. We wanted to set a standard that reflected the level of involvement and creativity to breakfast that we admire in many of the Melbourne greats and though at times our game would run dry with the Jenga blocks falling down around us we would start from scratch and build again with our hangover sauce taking around 18 different evolutions. With Stuarts dogged determination the menu was coming along nicely.
Bruce 'Little Brucey: Well it's hard for me to remember a specific cake.
Agatha Trunchbull: This one was mine. And it was the most scrumptious cake in the entire world.
At night I would bake and with the amazing creations on the main menu preying on my mind many of those nights were very late ones. As a child I could consume more cake than any other and so the copious amounts of cake mix, icing and sponge to test and taste were by no means an obstacle. A friend of mine once went to the famous Parisian based physical theatre school Le Coq, where they would work on clown pieces for weeks on end only to be cut down seconds later by their teacher with the dreaded and weekly occurring words ‘that’s not it!’ I can safely say I felt a similar feeling of devastation as Julian turned his nose up at the fifth attempt of my most treasured game the ‘Strawberry M1LK Cake’. With my mum working full-time when I was young, baking was a very rare and special occurrence and the memory of the strawberry smell that came wafting from the oven when baking those muffins still fills me with joy. This cake would be pinkest most strawberriest cake that had ever lived. Once the sponge was deemed ready and the icing tasted like strawberry milkshake we added a topping of party rings and satisfied, I felt sure the 8 year-old Veruca Salt in me would have been sufficiently impressed.
Veruca Salt: I want a party with roomfuls of laughter, Ten thousand tons of ice cream, And if I don't get the things I am after, I'm going to screeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEAM.
As we signed off each dish, with a dollop of burnt butter hollandiase on our Young Betty and old favorite sweetcorn fritters now amended and aptly named Sweet Maria it was a joy to see it come together. We had hoped to bring a new level of prettiness, symmetry and colour to our plates using freshly foraged flowers from Jan alongside bright orange Burford brown eggs to create dishes both playful to the eye and delicious to the taste. From the early ideas of epic mc muffins and strawberriest of strawberry cakes it was fun to be a child again even if it meant staying up way after bedtime. Upon the launch of the new menu, at the staff tasting we eat like kids at a mad hatters tea party. The determined passion from our kitchen team and the love and tenacity from our front of house for coffee, food and people never fails to inspire me. A good game is always played by many.
I've heard tell that what you imagine sometimes comes true.
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory