Surfers Paradise hosts live cooking demonstrations with its top chefs, on the first Saturday of the month. A kitchen is set up, chairs put out, sounds system rigged up and a Surfers Chef arrives to share some of their culinary secrets. It's a free event and there's no need to book – just go along. Bear with me a moment while I give you a taste of the setting. There's the Q1 and Surfers skyline on one side of you and the beach on the other. True to its name, surfers stroll past with their surfboards. Cars cruise slowly along the foreshore, taking in the whole scene. Meanwhile you take a seat, ready for an outdoor cooking lesson. It's all pretty cool.
Nick Bevan, head chef of the Surfers Paradise Beach Café, hosted the November event. His culinary delights, which I can personally vouch for as there's a tasting session at the end of the demo, were: asparagus chicken with a cream and lemon sauce – simply delicious, fresh homemade pasta with a basil and sundried tomato sauce – yum and a white chocolate panna cotta desert with a berry compote on top, which is now top of my list to make at home. Some of the audience preferred the hot mains, others relished the dip into the cold white chocolate dessert, either way you wouldn't have been disappointed. I'm guessing there were somewhere around 50 people in the audience so if you wanted to ask a question you could.
The mirror above the kitchen bench is a good idea, so you can see what is happening. The November event was a little windy, so it was a challenge for the chef to create his usual dishes without the temperature or the instant heat response he is used to in the kitchen, back at the restaurant. Well organised, there were also pre made plated servings brought from the Surfers Paradise Beach Café for everyone to taste.
I was interested to watch the pasta making. Nick was assisted by his boss, Arthur, in the making of egg pasta. The pasta is fresh made in the restaurant, for all their pasta dishes. Not having the chef's normal kitchen environment or equipment, makes it more of a challenge but it was good to see the process, as you will most likely have limited sophisticated equipment at home anyway. I'm not sure I was converted to fresh pasta making myself, looks like a labour of love and I doubt I'd have the time, but it was good to see. The basil and sundried tomato sauce had roasted garlic in it. The bulb was drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in tin foil and popped in the oven for half an hour on a low heat. When ready, you squeeze it out with your hands (lovely tossed over vegetables). The chicken sauce was made with lemon juice and fine chopped fresh sage, which was added to cream.
Being a dessert fan, I came away with the white chocolate panna cotta recipe. The vibrant colour of the berries contrasts well with the white creamy pudding. The little individual servings issued to the audience, in my mind, were actually the perfect serving size as the pudding is sweet and I'm not sure I would need the full size dessert dish. Some little glass bowls would be perfect, even though I am an ardent pudding fan.
I really enjoyed the demo, found the chef very easy to listen to and professional, the tips were good, recipes delish and the setting, despite being so close to the road, is very unique for a live cooking show, so all in all I'd give it the thumbs up. The sessions generally start at 4pm and run to around 5.30pm but double check here on the day for any changes before going along.
If you want, you can also visit the Surfers Paradise Beach Café and let Nick cook you up a taste sensation, while you relax and enjoy the stunning views over the ocean.
If you park in the Bruce Bishop car park (located under the wheel), the first 2 hours are free and it's only a 5 minutes walk to the foreshore. Use the Ferny Ave signed exit to walk out (which is a bit confusing as when you drive in you are coming off Beach Road but Ferny Ave is also the Gold Coast Highway at the bottom of the street). Turn right as you walk out, left at the lights and then it's right into Cavill. Walk straight down to the Foreshore and you will see the kitchen set up.
Free parking, cooking demo and taste session, all on the Surfers Paradise foreshore, on the Gold Coast - what a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.