A WARWICK restaurant has yet again carved a slice out of the national patisserie industry, coming home with armfuls of awards from the Australian National Cake and Pastry Show.
Mussels Restaurant and patisserie set mouths drooling with its swiss roll and sausage roll entries, which were both awarded first place in their respective categories.
Their sponge cake, muffins, coffee scrolls, short bread biscuits and lamingtons snared third places.
Overall, the restaurant was awarded an impressive silver medal at the awards. Owner Fred Moncada said he was “really proud” to achieve such results.
“This is the only Australia-wide competition for patisseries and pastry chefs – it's the pinnacle,” he said.
“This is the third year we've entered and we actually won it three years ago.
Last year we placed but didn't get into the top three and this year to be in the top two is great.
“We have people come and see us from all over now. It's put our patisserie on the map, and shows a Warwick store is one of the best in Australia.”
Judges rate each entry on its appearance (30%), its taste (30%) and its composition, which includes factors such as consistency and crumb textures (40%).
Entering a Melbourne-based food competition from Warwick might seem a logistical nightmare, but organisers take care of each entry.
Special refrigerated couriers are sent to each patisserie and restaurant the night before competition, and the entries are carefully wrapped and transported down.
They arrive on the judges plates the next morning to be sampled.
Mr Moncada has been weaving his magic for nine years in Warwick and says he inherited his passion for food.
“I've definitely learnt it from my parents – my mum was a chef in her own right,” he explained.
“I think passion is what takes food to the next level. There are people that can make good food, but to make it great you need to love it.”
As well as having the right amount of enthusiasm, Mr Moncada said there were two other secret ingredients to his success.
“It's experience too; I've been doing it for a long time,” he said.
“That and using the best ingredients we can. Everything we sell at Mussels is made there and using the best ingredients and devices produces the best food.”
Melt 200g dark chocolate and 125g of butter.
Stir in 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsps vanilla essence and 2 eggs.
Add 1 cup self-raising flour and one cup chopped pecans or walnuts.
Pour mixture into a 28x18cm slab pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.