MasterChef Australia was in McLaren Vale last night, the famous wine region about 35 kilometres south of Adelaide.
As part of the show’s South Australia Week, they were at the d’Arenberg Cube, an extraordinary $15 million structure that opened in December 2017.
The five-storey building – which looks like an enormous, half-solved Rubik’s Cube floating above a vineyard – is part cellar door, part modern art gallery and part restaurant.
It was the restaurant that took centre stage last night, as four contestants undertook a pressure test: to make a lemon meringue pie, one of the Cube’s signature dishes. But, as everyone knows, there’s always a twist on MasterChef Australia.
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Judge Matt Preston warned contestants: “We’ve seen the dish. There’s one element there that I don’t think I’ve seen on an Australian restaurant menu anywhere else around the country. And that’s a totally cutting edge-type element that I think is going to bake your noodles,” he said.
That cutting-edge element? A 3D food printer. The d’Arenberg Cube restaurant is the first in Australia to use one of these printers, in line with its mission to create “luxury food and wine experiences that challenge convention”.
(According to The Advertiser, this philosophy has attracted some pretty famous guests and husband-and-wife team, Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Dürr, are said to have cooked for some pretty famous guests, including Prince William and Kate Middleton, David and Victoria Beckham and Roger Moore.)
MasterChef Australia contestants had to use the 3D printer to create the caramelised white-chocolate base of the dessert. They had three hours to make the dish, which also contained lemon-curd parfait balls, lemon curd gel on the side, coconut rocher and fennel balls made using liquid nitrogen, all topped with a meringue sheet and sprinkled with a ginger ‘snow’. So, just a normal after-dinner sweet treat that we all regularly knock up at home, then.
The restaurant is just one part of the d’Arenberg Cube, which features other sensory experiences including a movable bar made from 38 television screens; a ‘wine fog room’; a 360° walk-through video room with crazy special effects and imagery; and an entire room covered from floor to ceiling with artificial fruit (you can’t lick the walls, but there are 30 individual aromas reflecting wine flavour notes to sniff).
The Willy Wonka vibe stems from Chester Osborn, chief winemaker and fourth-generation family member at d’Arenberg winery, which was established in McLaren Vale in 1912. He's long been known as the ‘Willy Wonka of wine’ and The Cube has been called everything from Willy Wonka’s Wine Factory and the Mad Hatter’s House to Chester’s Folly.
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