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Oigen Palma Cast Iron cook off

Words & Photography by Mr LB

There is no denying we are eating out more than ever. Today, we attend new and old favourite restaurants, pubs and bars at an unprecedented rate. While our appetite for exploring new food establishments is relentless, cooking at home shouldn’t be entirely abandoned.

The home kitchen is an important space for many reasons. Whether it’s a place to zone out, feeding the little ones, taking on a challenging recipe or being center stage to show off your cooking talents. In terms of cookware the range is ample, from the cheap to the ridiculous. I purchased a Circulon cookware set a few years back and have never been more satisfied. Until now…

The Modern Connoisseur was invited to a cocktail dinner/cooking demonstration that showcased the latest Oigen Palma cast iron cookware designed by Jasper Morrison. The design of the newly released cookware is stunning, minimalist and timeless. Each piece is sustainable and environmental friendly; using 50 to 70% recycled iron. The 160 year old company is dedicated to superior quality and passing on the craft to the future artisans of crockery. Each piece involves hours of labour and is individually hand crafted. The end result being visually pleasing for any kitchen style and set up – big or small.

Ito Katsuyasu

The cooking demonstration was located at Pepper Design + in Richmond and was assisted by Japanese kitchen supplier, Chef’s Armoury. A marvelous black on black kitchen had set the scene. Designed and built by the oldest German cabinet maker company, the kitchen is long, slick and slightly imposing. It had all the features of a friendly Iron Chef duel.  In the Iron Chef corner was French inspired chef Ito Katsuyasu. The challenger was New Zealand born and Australian all-rounder chef, Jared Ingersoll.

As the two chef alternated in cooking multiple dishes, it became apparent just how easy it was to cook and clean with cast iron.

Grilled Fillet fish with a garnish of pig fat and fried garlic

One of Jared Ingersoll’s dishes was simple but a cracker; grilled fish with a garnish of pig fat and fried garlic. Starting with the fish fillets, using the cast iron skillet with only heat and salt, he laid the fish straight onto the pan. There was no need for oil. Starting with the skin side on the skillet until it was well and truly crisped up, an effortless flip of the fish onto its other side completed the cooking of the fish.

Once the fish was cooked it was onto the garnish. Using another cast iron skillet, Jared threw the sliced garlic and fat into the skillet and let it caramelise. Topped with finely chopped parsley it made for a simple but full of flavour dish.

Grilled Eggplant with calamari

Ito Katsuyasu cooked a stunning calamari with eggplant; chopped into large pieces and simply grilled. The grilling process allowed for the natural flavours of the eggplant to be extracted which complimented the lightly fried calamari. This dish was a favourite amongst the guests.

Kangaroo Tail Stew

Eating gamed meat – especially those found on the coat of arms – divides the nation. Some love the juicy and lean meat of the Kangaroo, while others impose a full prohibition.

To explore and push the cooking of Kangaroo meat, Jared went a step further than the ‘safe cuts’as he prepared Kangaroo Tail Stew. The preparation was easy; placing the chopped kangaroo tail into the casserole cast iron dish. Then pour two liters of boiling water, a few table spoons of misso sauce, one red chilli and a tin of tomatoes. The dish was stewed for two to three hours.

The meat effortlessly pulled away from the bone and left a desirable melt in the mouth moment. The sauce was vibrant in taste with a manageable kick of chilly that sent me back for seconds!

Grilled Veggies & Asparagus with melted parmesan rind

Cooking vegetables by themselves can be quite restrictive. While there is the oven and microwave approach, the grilled cast iron is a better and healthier alternative. With little preparation, grilling straight on the cast iron grill plate not only makes the vegetables visually appealing but surprisingly cooked to perfection.

One little trick was demonstrated with asparagus and melted parmesan rind. Whilst letting the asparagus grill on the cast iron grill, melt the parmesan rind (yes! it is part of the cheese) and season with salt and pepper. The taste of the cheesy sauce with the asparagus was delicious and addictive.

Throughout the night, both chefs re-used the cast iron dishes as they progressed through the set menu. With each dish finished, it was a simple process of cleaning the cast iron pieces with a iron brush and scrubbing with hot water. There is no need to use soap.

Well-made cast iron will stay in any kitchen for life. However, with a long lasting product one needs to consider design. This is where the latest Oigen Palma cast iron cookware is a winner. It can outlast any trend and will still be around once the children have left the nest. Timeless and perfect for any kitchen.

For further information about Chef’s Armoury and their Oigen cast iron cookware range can be found here.

Chef’s Armoury Melbourne
422 Church St, Richmond VIC (03) 9429 1139

The kitchen space was provided by Pepper Design + in Richmond.

For further information about Pepper Design + kitchen designs and other furniture pieces can be found here.

The Modern Con was invited to this special event by Zilla & Brook.

Food in pictures

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