A feast for all the senses, Jed Gerrard’s creations at Perth’s Wildflower, qualify as culinary artworks.
19 October, 2018
It takes something very special to shine in Western Australia’s burgeoning culinary landscape. With an ever-increasing reputation worldwide for its superb local produce, distinctive flavours and supremely passionate and dedicated chefs, Australia’s wild west is attracting gastronomes from all over the world to sample its distinctive offerings.
Firmly entrenched at the top of the ‘best in the west’ list is Perth’s Wildflower, perched atop the COMO The Treasury hotel in the heart of the city. A sleek, modern restaurant space that serves its own unique menu, inspired by the indigenous six seasons and the distinctive tastes of the local flora, with a wine list that also showcases the very best of the region.
The mastermind behind the award-winning menu is locally born, Jed Gerrard (pictured), who has combined his extensive experience around the globe, with championing local produce to create his own special brand of culinary magic.
As Executive Chef for COMO The Treasury, his responsibilities include overseeing all of the hotel’s outstanding dining offerings – Post, The Treasury Lounge and the extensive room service menus – but it is up on the top floor at Wildflower that he really lets his creativity loose. Here Gerrard creates dishes that showcase a myriad of local flavours, beautifully balanced so that each subtle ingredient is allowed to shine and play its part in concert with the others presented in what often looks too good to eat. Something that you get past quite quickly though.
The mastermind behind the award-winning menu is locally born, Jed Gerrard
Western Australia boasts hundreds of different plants that have been used by the Noongar for thousands of years
Trained in New Zealand and Canada, Gerrard’s resume includes time at Tetsuya Wakuda’s famed Tetsuya’s in Sydney, as well as occupying the role of Executive Chef of Black by Ezard also in the Harbour city. In addition he has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland and France, so the experiences he brings to Wildflower are many and varied. Add to this pedigree a passion for local and sustainable produce and the strong influence of the local Noongar people, and the results are extraordinary.
Most fine dining experiences don’t begin on a beach, but on this occasion, the chance to go ‘foraging’ with Gerrard gave an insight into his mindset and food philosophy. Only minutes from The Treasury, North Cottesloe Beach stretches off as far as the eye can see, but it’s not the view that Gerrard is here to see, but the Samphire and other edible plants growing wild in the sand that have his attention. With their distinctive tastes, it is these flavours and those of countless other naturally existing local plants that Gerrard uses in his cooking.
Western Australia boasts hundreds of different plants that have been used by the Noongar for thousands of years for food and medicines and these now find their way into contemporary cooking.
From the peppery flavours of the bloodroot, to the desert lime, finger lime, lemon myrtle, samphire, Dumbari (Quandong), Wilyawa (Red-eyed Watttle), saltbush – the number of native plants that lend their own distinctive flavours and textures is enormous, but Gerrard knows exactly what he is looking for and the properties each brings to a dish.
The constantly changing menu at Wildflower is built around the six seasons of the local Noongar people – an organic calendar that relies not only on the naturally changing seasons but the physical needs of the Noongar people throughout each year.
Although not cast in stone, Birak traditionally runs through December and January, when flora and fauna is plentiful, going into Bunuru in February and March when temperatures in the west can soar. During this second season, seafood was traditionally a staple at this time and the famed WA marron was plentiful. Likewise, those seasonal plants such as banksia blossom and wattle are also incorporated into menus during this season.
Djeran occupies April, May, into the cooler climes of Makuru in June and July when heartier fare – rich kangaroo and emu – were hunted. Djilba in August, September heralds the blooming season, much like the western spring, then to Kambarang (October, November) often referred to as the ‘season of plenty’, and so the cycle completes and then continues.
What Gerrard and his team do with this combination of traditional season, local flavours and a veritable army specially selected local growers is extraordinary.
Think aged Emu ham, with mushroom, black garlic cream, cloud fungus and sour grass. Or, wood grilled Arkady lamb with garlic emulsion, turnips, saltbush, peas and eucalyptus. Perhaps line caught wild fish is more to your tastes, with puffed rice crust, squid ink cured egg yolk, slender ice plant and white asparagus or Jarrah-smoked beetroot with black organic barley, preserved quandong and fennel pollen.
To finish, try roasted pineapple chiboust, with burnt passionfruit marshmallow, toasted coconut, desert lime, frozen yoghurt, anise myrtle and Geraldton wax, or strawberry gum cream with rhubarb and pepperberry.
Decisions can be hard to make once at Wildflower, so a five course degustation menu is the perfect option, and with matched wines, hard to go past. Just be sure to kick off with a signature Wildflower Martini, made with Geraldton wax infused Hippocampus vodka and gin, with Maidenii classic vermouth – the subtle flavours of the Australian west incorporated in the classic Martini. Of course, you would not go wrong with any of Wildflower’s signature takes on classic cocktails – perhaps try a new one as you visit for each seasonal menu.
Decisions can be hard to make once at Wildflower, so a five course degustation menu is the perfect option
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