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50,000 people are coming to dinner

Fresh Catering culinary director Geoff Haviland

Fresh Catering culinary director Geoff Haviland

Fresh Catering culinary director Geoff Haviland gives us the scoop on catering for Turandot, Opera Australia’s new production.

Complementing the cultural theming of Turandot, Fresh Catering Executive Chef Geoff Haviland has drawn inspiration from the diverse cuisine of Imperial Peking, his own experience travelling throughout China’s Sichuan Province and as executive chef of Intercontinental Hong Kong.

Haviland said, “Both The Platinum Club’s premium à la carte menu and lavish buffet will feature a fantastic range of tastes, textures and cooking techniques from Beijing featuring authentic dishes you would see in the best restaurants in China like the steamed barramundi on lobster fried rice with snake beans and black bean butter sauce. We’ve also added a few culinary surprises throughout the menu like our green tea pavlova with cumquat curd, black sesame cream and lychee salad.

“Much of the food originating in Beijing are vendor-based meals, well suited to the Northern and Southern Terraces and the Qantas Garden Bar where you’ll find China’s famous General Tso’s Chicken and Chinese street snack favourite, Bao presented with a range of delicious ingredients like red braised pork belly with Szechuan pickles and hoisin aioli.  At the Northern Cantina we will present hawker-market style cuisine and one of my favourite dishes, lamb shank in master stock with red dates and woodear mushrooms or pork spare ribs with black vinegar caramel, egg fried rice and chinese greens.”

Haviland will lead his culinary team, catering to 50,000+ opera-goers across the four week performance period from March 24 – April 24, 2016.

How many people are the in the kitchen team?
The Fresh kitchen, logistics and stewarding team swells to over 80, split between the venue itself and our production facility, where a team work on a 24/7 roster to accommodate delivery times, availabilities, suppliers, etc.  Each outlet at the opera has a head chef and its own designated team, who work every single night so that we can guarantee consistency of quality and efficiency of delivery each night.

The production kitchen team is led by a head chef, who works alongside our kitchen manager, chief steward and logistics manager to ensure everything is produced on a just-in-time basis, delivered on site and under controlled conditions.

The production kitchen consists of five sections: Salads, Canapes, Hots, Sandwiches, Pastry; each section has its own sous chef, who runs a team of junior chefs. Each section is responsible for different components of the opera menus, whether it be slow cooking the Chinese meat dishes, preparing retail sandwiches and Peking duck pancakes, wrapping the rice paper rolls, etc.

The overnight production sous chef leads a team of food preparation cooks, who pack together the various items for the first delivery of the day onsite. They also look after much of the basic salad preparations.

How many Pork Belly Bao’s do you expect to sell?
The pork buns feature heavily in all the interval menus at both the Northern and Southern Terraces and The Northern Cantina, so this equates to about 1,200 each night, approximately 30,000 for the duration of the season.

We anticipate the Qantas Bao Bar will be very popular and that we will prepare more than 1,000 tofu, vegetable and pork Bao dishes each night.

What about General Tso’s Chicken?
I think this will be the standout dish of the event, as it has broad appeal to both Asian and western palates. Also, due to the fact that it features on both of the Northern and Southern Terrace menus, it will be extremely popular. A conservative estimate would be about 600 portions each night, so over 15,000 for the season. This alone will need the processing of 3,500 kg of chicken in the production kitchen.

How much of each key ingredient do you expect to use?
Salmon fillet: 1000 kg
Lamb shanks: 2,500 pieces
Peking duck: 750 whole ducks
Mongolian Lamb: 1,500 kg
Black sesame seeds: 125 kg
Soy sauce: 500 litres
Tofu: 375 kg
Chinese radish: 500 kg
Sriracha chilli sauce: 600 litres
Fresh coriander: 2,500 bunches
Jasmine rice: 2,000 kg (uncooked)
Master stock: 1,000 litres
Dried shrimp for XO sauce: 50 kg
Fresh garlic: 100 kg
Jumbo dried chillies: 30 kg

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