First of all, I promise that this will be the last Masterchef post...for a while at least. Tonight is _the _night-the night where we learn whether Julie or Poh is crowned the Masterchef Australia winner. Weeknights will now be empty - no rushing to prepare food before the 7pm deadline and Sunday nights will be cliff hanger free. I thought I had Saturday "off" from my addiction but this was not so - patissier Adriano Zumbo would be holding a Masterchef Cake Auction.
Up for auction were the cakes that he made for a photoshoot for the upcoming the Masterchef cookbook. Rather than have the cakes go to waste, they thought that they would auction them off with all proceeds going to the Children's Hospital at Westmead. The Masterchef cookbook will come out in November this year (the winner's cookbook will come out next year) and will feature recipes that contestants have contributed from Mystery Box challenges and Invention Tests with the contestants writing the introductions for their own dishes as well as commenting on others by telling us what they did right and what they did wrong and explaining what they would have done differently, given the chance. The celebrity chefs that have contributed recipes are Adriano Zumbo, Alex Herbert, Manu Fieldel, Pete Evans, Matt Moran, Guy Grossi and Ben ODonoghue among others. And fans of the show, they want to hear from you as to which recipes you'd like to see so you can leave a comment here to let them know which recipe you want or twitter "Masterchefbook".
Watching a photo shoot for a cookbook is interesting stuff indeed. For as much as a photographer like myself loves light and flocks to it, the background and lighting for the shoot were quite dark. The photographs however looked amazing on the preview screen so obviously they have a much greater knowledge (using a long exposure and a tripod) and much more expensive equipment than I could ever dream to possess.
While we're waiting for the auction to start, I chat to another woman who confesses that she had a $40 a week Zumbo chocolate habit (which is about 30 chocolate's a week) which culminated in a chocolate intolerance. We even have a chat to Adriano's mum and nephew (who just happens to look quite like Zumbo at that age) . Mrs Zumbo says that she allowed Zumbo to leave school early as long as he had a job lined up but if he quit the job, he would go back to school. We also meet the self confessed "really, really good customers" Sebastien and baby Mathilde who loves visiting because she gets chocolate.
_The crowd gathered for the auction
When the clock strikes 4.30pm radio personality Tom Tilley who is the auctioneer for the evening (who tells the crowd that he briefly dated contestant Poh), addresses the large crowd amassed. Up for auction today is a Croquembouche, just like the one that the contestants created which features between 90-100 choux puffs (these can be ordered at a cost of $350), the Tonka Bean Pannacotta with Passionfruit slick and Rice Pudding and Pine Nut Macarons and the cake that everyone wants a piece of and that proved a near impossible challenge, the 5 layer Chocolate Mousse Cake which is divided up into 8 slices for maximum sampling.
Bidding starts at $50 for a slice of the chocolate mousse cake and swiftly climbs. Final prices end at about $100 for most slices with the top price of $125 for a single slice of the cake. The winners are handed their prize slice, along with a photo (or for some a kiss) with Adriano and one lovely buyer Trissa (who is an NQN reader) offers me a taste of her prized piece. I can't resist and she then offers me half of her slice in an amazingly generous gesture! The cake is filled with soft mousse, sweet apple and a thick, flowing caramel sauce. It's like a caramel apple combined with a rich chocolate mousse and a biscuit base. A big thankyou to Trissa for sharing her prize with me! :)
The croquembouche finishes at $400 and the Tonka Bean Pannacotta with Passionfruit slick and rice Pudding and Pine Nut macarons finishes at around $60. The winners have a choice of having their prizes packed up for them or eating it there.
_The winning bidder for the Croquembouche _
A little later Karen and Suze arrive and are a touch disappointed that the auction is over. However their disappointment quickly turns to joy when Adriano brings out a backup of the Tonka Bean Pannacotta with Macarons and asks if we'd like to try it. You can imagine just how quickly we all said yes to this. The pannacotta is just as Matt Preston described it should be and it wobbles "deliciously like a Rubenesque woman on 5 inch heels". The macarons are fantastcially true to flavour with the pine nut one having an toasted pinenut almost toffeeish flavour and the rice pudding one an exact doppelganger for creamy rice pudding. A sweet ending to an exciting day with over $1000 raised for the Children's Hospital at Westmead.
So tell me Dear Reader, what would you have bid up to for the cakes? Did they go for more or less than you thought they would? And don't forget to let us know if you would like to see a particular dish in the Masterchef cookbook ;) .
Adriano Zumbo Café Chocolat
308 Darling St, Balmain (inside Balmain Mall)
Open 7 days