A couple of months ago, 2016 Chef’s Plate, the ultimate traveling cooking competition, headed to Houston, Texas. Chef Cedric Gavoille competed against Chef Adam Heath
in front of a panel of esteemed judges, and a foodservice who’s who of Houston audience at the Culinary Institute LeNôtre. To start guests enjoyed a butchery demonstration by Master Butcher Doug Piper
of Meat & Livestock Australia. Then they entered the competition arena to watch and taste as the chefs squared off using True Aussie Lamb. Chef Adam Heath took home the Chef’s Roll trophy, a handmade Paprika knife by Australian knife maker Ferenc Petho, and a Golden Ticket to compete in the World Food Championships for a chance to win $100,000! We caught up with Chef Heath to learn a bit more about his winning dishes, and get his take on cooking with Aussie lamb.Tell us about your first course dish, the Aussie Maple Lamb Sausage with Potato Truffle “Bubble Waffle”, Petite Herb Salad & Whipped Goat Cheese.
I wanted to start off with something that would win over a broad group of people and earn their trust through food they may have already known. I went with savory waffles - like a twist on chicken & waffles, a comfort-food dish around here in Houston. The sweetness of the maple, richness of the sausage, the earthiness and umami of the truffles, and the bitterness of a little arugula, made for a really nice and balanced dish. The sausages were ground lamb and pork fat with the maple syrup, plus some rendered lamb fat to amp up the lamb flavor. What’s a bubble waffle?
Bubble waffles are made on a particular kind of waffle iron; apparently there’s a bit of a craze for them in Asia right now. They give you a pliable but still crispy waffle (almost like a pizzelle) that’s pillowy soft on the inside. They’re delicious! And the next course was Charred Sous-Vide Lamb Loin with Grain Cous Cous Blend, Herb Roasted Mushrooms, Turnips and Tomatoes. Tell us about that.
I love to sous-vide*, and thought lamb loin would be great that way. I marinated the loins, then cooked them sous vide for 3.5-4hrs to a barely medium rare. At the competition I dusted them with a smoked garlic and peppercorn char spice and seared them. That spice blend gives you this amazing smoky “bark” that you’d usually have to char-grill to achieve. The other elements were all about adding texture and earthy flavors to highlight the lamb. What do you like about working with Aussie lamb?
I like using the Aussie lamb because it’s milder than domestic lamb. The smaller size of the cuts is good for the plate, too; you’re not giving guests these giant hunks of meat to wrestle with. What advice do you have for home cooks working with lamb?
The easiest way to have success is to keep it simple! You want to taste the flavor of the lamb, which especially with Aussie lamb is delicate and mild. If you or your guests aren’t sure about lamb, olives are a great secret weapon. You can marinate in olive brine, or serve your lamb with a nice olive tapenade. It complements the natural flavor, and mellows it out. *Editor’s note: “sous-vide” is a modern cooking technique using vacuum-sealed bags and a circulating bath of temperature-controlled water to safely cook foods (and especially meats) to precise temperatures over long periods of time.