Cooking is not one of my strengths and while my husband and I love hosting dinner parties, preparing a meal for more than two people is right up there on my top 10 list of stressful things to do. So, I was rather excited at the prospect of someone else doing the planning, shopping, cooking and worrying about making a success of a dinner party for eight. Here’s our experience with Sunshine Coast company Talking Turkey.
Santosh Walunjkar from Talking Turkey arrived with boxes of fruit and vegetables, food, condiments, cooking implements and crockery.
All we had to supply was the cutlery, glasses, drinks, kitchen and oven. Due to lack of use, our oven shorted a week before the party and we had to purchase a new one.
Santosh, who used to work as a chef at popular local café One on La Balsa in Buddina, did a four-year hotel management course in Pune University, India and started his hospitality career in the hotel industry in Pune and Mumbai.
A few years later, he moved to the UK, where he gained experience in hospitality by working in cafes and hotels, such as the Marriott Hotel and Asia de Cuba fusion restaurant in London.
As soon as he arrived, Santosh took over the kitchen. He arrived at 3.30pm and our guests were due at 6.30pm. I was amazed to watch all the food – including the sauces, marinades and desserts – being prepared from scratch in my kitchen.
This was our pre-selected fusion menu.
Olive and sundried tomato mushroom gratin.
Tandoori spiced chicken tikka.
Yakitori beef with pickled ginger.
Slow-cooked aromatic duck Maryland with sweet potato miso mash.
Sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and apple strudel.
I was amazed it only took 10 minutes to prepare the apple strudel and 10 minutes to bake.
The biggest challenge was to get the duck and sticky date pudding in the oven. He tackled the duck first. The slow-cooked duck was marinated with kaffir lime, lemongrass, garlic, coriander and star anise in a pot and cooked in the oven for two hours on 140C.
After popping the duck in the oven, the sticky date pudding was next on the list. I’ll admit, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to even to begin to make sticky date pudding so it was magical for me to watch an expert whip up the dessert with such ease.
If you’re interested in seeing how to make a sticky date pudding, watch this video.
It took 20 minutes to prepare. The baking time was 30 minutes.
Santosh’s specialty is fusion cuisine. “I’ve learnt something from every place I’ve lived in. I love fusion food because there is no limit to the imagination. You can make anything you want,” he says.
While the duck and sticky date pudding were cooking in the oven, Santosh prepared the vegetables.
By the time I had a shower and had dolled up for dinner, the aroma of spices and sticky date pudding had filled my home.
An hour before my guests were due, Hugh, our waiter for the evening, arrived and was tasked with cleaning up the pots and pans, skewering beef Yakitori and washing glasses.
Sunshine Coast holiday
It was the best dinner party we have ever hosted in our own home. It was a fabulous night and a hit with our friends. Everyone had a fantastic time; the food was delicious.
Santosh and Hugh made everything seem so easy. So if you’re planning a Sunshine Coast holiday, especially if you’re staying in a holiday home, you might like to try out the services of a chef and have your own private chef cook you and your friends a fantastic meal.
Sit back and watch the full version of how Santosh prepared the three-course dinner for eight.
Looking for more things to do on the Sunshine Coast? Here’s why you should consider visiting the hinterland.
If you’re after something sweet, find out all about bees.
If you’re the type of traveller who loves to experience a destination through its food and drink, here’s a fun cocktail recipe to get you in the mood..