Seafood Grill and Prime Steakhouse by Mark Best. The restaurant offers a lavish chef’s table experience at sea, in collaboration with Genting Cruise Lines’ Dream Cruises. Ajeng G. Anindita took to the ocean waves for some delicious food and an exclusive interview.
When you hear the term modern Australian cuisine, you might well think of Mark Best. Among many accolades, the 52-year-old chef has won the Chef of the Year award in the annual Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. Marque, his restaurant in Sydney, was in the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants list for three successive years and held three Australian Chef Hats for 10 years.
In 2016, Best closed Marque and embarked on a new journey with Dream Cruises, which sails from Hong Kong, Singapore and Guangzhou. His Bistro by Mark Best, now changes to new concept called Seafood Grill and Prime Steakhouse, is the pick of the line’s F&B outlets, offering choice cuts of steak and seafood. The chef’s multi-cultural approach has inspired a new menu that Prestige had an opportunity to preview at the chef’s table after boarding Genting Dream. The company’s biggest and the newest ship was sailing from Singapore on a two-night cruise to Pork Klang in Malaysia.
For starters, Chef Best prepared a choice of duck liver and foie gras parfait or kingfish with finger lime and kiwi fruit ceviche. The highlight of his tasting menu was lobster rendang, western style. The rendang was served as the sauce, alongside potatoes and leeks. Another main course choice was buttery black cod baked in tomato, chili and olives. Dessert options included Anzac biscuits (made of rolled oats and flour) with Pandan ice cream and mango. Each dish was paired with a Penfolds wine. After dinner, Chef Best joined Prestige for an exclusive interview. Highlights:
How would you describe your style of cooking, Mark?
I’d say it’s different – eclectic, curious. It’s a very Australian, new-nation style of cooking. We are still a very new country, so we don’t have a long tradition to fall back on. I am building basically a collection of everyone else’s traditions. So we’re able to use all of those styles. Also being geographically part of Asia, Australia has a mix of different cultures, languages, religions, foods, especially in Sydney, with all of the combinations of people and foods. I’m always curious about new ingredients and new cultures and what’s new. In that way, I just keep evolving.
How did you hook up with Dream Cruises?
I got a call from Thatcher Gihon Brown (President of Dream Cruises). He had heard about my reputation and thought that we should talk. They had a new ship, a new concept – and they believed I would be a good fit. To me, it wasn’t really about cooking on a ship, I was excited to work with someone who shared my vision about what hospitality and good food should be. And it’s really exciting working for a company that’s continuing to evolve and change. Already, we’re evolving into different markets and cultures.
Tells us about the new concept.
The concept is of an intimate private venue. Guests can enjoy specially tailored menus where each dish is perfectly paired with wines from around the world. Each dinner is totally unique, depending on your tastes and requirements. While our chefs exhibit their creativity, guests can choose to book out this venue entirely, or share the room with others, accommodating up to eight guests at a time.
How do you create a new dish?
The starting point would always be the main ingredient. To me, it’s not about cost, and it’s not always about luxury. Someone can say an ugly pumpkin is beautiful. For example, the finger limes, when you cut one open you never know if it’s going to be yellow, green or even pink. Things like that can be inspirational. The fisherman may come in with some beautiful fish and you just have to go to see the catch and think: “What do I need to do to bring out its beauty, its best quality.”
So what is good food for you?
Basically, good food is about nutrition. I think we need to get back to understanding what proper nutrition is. I think we lost that a bit with the industrialisation of food. Things that our grandmother understood are being forgotten. Getting people to go back to cooking, to their kitchens, getting them to understand what good food looks like in its natural state, is important. A TV show like MasterChef is good because it’s encouraging people to go back into the kitchen. We had sort of lost that before.
What’s next for Mark Best?
I’m hoping I’m still with Dream Cruises in the next years, being part of their growth. I mean, we’re hitting Australia! We recently announced the launch of the Explorer Dream service, and we’re going to be in Australia and New Zealand from October 2019.