Review: Heinz Beck at Caffe Sicilia
SYDNEY: The scrumptious creations of three Michelin Star chef Heinz Beck were recently on show at Surry Hills eatery, Caffe Sicilia. And his legacy will continue on, writes Clancy Atkinson.
A German-born chef who is considered the godfather of Italian cuisine? Meet super chef Heinz Beck.
In 1994, Beck left his native Germany for Italy and fell in love with its food and culture. His flagship restaurant in Rome, La Pergola, holds three prestigious Michelin Stars and is considered one of the world’s finest restaurants. His London restaurant Apsleys and Cafe Les Paillottes in Pescara each hold one Michelin Star. Beck is also the author of eight best-selling books and has received countless awards including the Six Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality.
Beck recently visited Sydney hosting a series of events in collaboration with Surry Hills eatery Caffe Sicilia. The old-world Italian charm of Caffe Sicilia provided the perfect venue to showcase Beck’s culinary genius. Beck and his team of chefs, immaculately dressed waiters and sommeliers prepared a stunning eight-course degustation matched with beautiful Italian wines that danced between the surreal and the sublime. Four of the dishes featured will remain on Caffe Sicilia’s menu as a tribute to his visit.
There is only one way to truly appreciate the genius of Heinz Beck and that is to enter his world. So on a balmy Friday afternoon, that’s exactly what I did, at a special lunch hosted by the revered chef.
The journey started with Beck humbly introducing himself to a roomful of eager and hungry foodies all with high expectations. He said his inspiration comes from his Sicilian wife and his passion for life: “It’s important to open your mind and draw inspiration from everything around you from people to architecture”.
As the first dish arrived, an amuse bouche of tuna and lobster matched with a fruity prosecco, it was clear that this was going to be a world class gastromonic experience. His dish of Crispy Bread Cannolo with Sea Bass was summer on a plate. The wafer thin bread filled with delicate just-cooked fish sitting on a mosaic of melon and celery was incredibly fresh and simple, allowing the produce to shine. “Fruits and vegetables should be ripe and perfect consistency,” Beck said. “Then you don’t need to overdo the other ingredients.”
Course after course highlighted Chef Beck’s skill. His ability to combine classic technique with modern flavour pairings was showcased beautifully with his dish of Sedanini with Red Shrimp. The handmade sedanini were perfectly formed short, thin strips of expertly cooked pasta doused in a smokey aubergine coulis. Delicately poached shrimp and salty anchovy croutons added seasoning and texture. A lesson in elegant simplicity and confidence in skill.
My carnivorous urges were satisfied with the arrival of the Veal in a Pistachio Crust with Mortadella and Topinambur Purée. A stunningly cooked piece of pink veal tenderloin stuffed with the best mortadella imaginable. A silky smooth topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke) purée and a dusting of finely crushed pistachio rounded the dish off wonderfully. This was undoubtedly my favourite dish.
Research is an essential part of Beck’s work. He has studied the health effects of eating a balanced diet and the nutritional value of his food is very important to him. “I want to offer a beautiful dinner but also a healthy experience,” he said. “So with that in mind it was time for dessert. The Orange Jelly with Bergamont Ice Cream and Edible Flowers was a homage to Sicily. Visually stunning the dish was light, fruity and apparently healthy.
As my lunch with Heinz Beck ended I felt sated and inspired. Each course was a lesson in conceptual simplicity, respect for produce and perfect execution. Beck highlighted the importance of fresh produce: “The most important thing with my food is to use the freshest produce and the best quality ingredients.”
It’s comforting to know that some of Heinz Beck’s genius will remain in Sydney as Caffe Sicilia will feature his legacy dishes as a degustation on their menu: Crispy Cannolo with Sea Bass, Sedanini Pasta with Red Shrimps, Veal in a Pistachio Crust with Mortadella and Topinambur Puree and the Orange Jelly with Bergamont Ice Cream and Edible Flowers.
CAFFE SICILIA: 628 Crown Street, Surry Hills, (02) 9699 8787, www.caffesicilia.com.au