Mistakes. We all make them. But when you work in the public eye, as I do, you get to make them in front of a lot of people. Thousands, sometimes, all in the one room.
But hey, that’s the job right? Fun.
Working at a major food festival recently, I was demonstrating some of my very best cold-weather dishes. Rich soups, indulgent desserts, and my most outstanding and inventive slow-cooked meats. Tender, rich, unctuous – really, it was a brilliant menu with so much to savour.
Given that this was a highbrow regional festival attended by some of society’s better-heeled folks, I wasn’t really expecting a heckler, let alone a stage invasion. That’s more Foo Fighters conference or Alan Joyce press conference than cooking session.
But that’s what we got.
An elderly fellow, with a bent back but unyielding will, took to the microphone to call me out on some of the backstory I’d been sharing. Bruce was a retired butcher with some firm opinions on meat.
At the time I was busy preparing tender and succulent beef short ribs braised in a South Australian Sangiovese wine. Paired with a fire-grilled capsicum and corn salad, it’s about as much as you might hope for from a winter meal. Light yet rich and completely delicious.
The eating quality of the dish was not the subject with which Bruce took issue. Rather, he was keen to explain some of the finer points of butchery.
Short ribs, Bruce pointed out, were not named ‘short’ for the way they are cut, a point I had moments before delivered as fact. But rather are so-named because they are cut from the ‘short plate’ section of the rib that sits between the brisket and the flank.
To be honest, it was fascinating to listen as Bruce talked with such passion about the different cuts and how they are butchered. And by the session’s end he was undeniably the real hero of the show.
And I left a little better educated, and equipped with everything I needed for a great tale to tell over dinner.