The Final Table
chef and AEG ambassador Mark Best
has made a name for himself as one of Australia’s most respected culinary figures. And his latest endeavour — leading the culinary program at Melbourne’s soon-to-open Ritz-Carlton hotel— is testament to his celebrated skillset.
So, when the chef offers words of wisdom in the kitchen, you bet we sit up and take note. In collaboration with premium home appliances brand AEG
, Best recently hosted a masterclass and dining experience that challenged the expected.
The result? A multisensory journey that transformed a dinner party
into a dramatic performance. Whilst Best crafted the menu, Elizabeth Gadsby (set designer at Sydney Theatre Company) handled the lighting and setting, and composer and sound designer James Brown created a series of compositions to accompany each dish.
“I like to disarm people; I like to challenge their perception of what they’re going to get. For me, dinner with a side of drama is about bringing the stagecraft of the theatre to the table,” Best explains. Below, he shares three expert tips to take your dinner party to the next level. Pen at the ready.
From the menu to the table setting, challenge what your guests usually expect from you. Start with the location and ambience to set the scene from the moment your visitors walk through the door.
“Food is only part of the package when dining out or entertaining,” Best concurs. “Curate the mood through dramatic lighting and music themed to match your menu or special occasion. A good night out is a curated experience where hospitality, ambience, food and beverage all add up to give your guests that ‘ahh’ moment, to forget their day to day and relax with each other.”
Once the atmosphere is established, turn to the menu and curate it accordingly. “Even dessert can be subversive. I serve a black pavlova
— which is as easy as using black confectionary grade colouring in the whipped egg whites — with stewed garnet plums just to play with convention. It is a wow moment that is easy to achieve,” he adds.
As your guests arrive, invite them into the kitchen to enjoy an aperitif and appetisers whilst you finalise the dinner preparations. Welcoming your visitors into your ‘workspace’ sets a warm, relaxed tone for the evening ahead. Working with AEG appliances
at the dining experience, Best says: “The Matte Black Range is a sophisticated backdrop to the conversation as people arrive.”
“Serve Oysters Rockefeller
directly from the grill, showing them how easy it is for you with the AEG range. The AEG Matte Black induction cooktop
has an incredibly even and consistent heat delivery, so a wonderfully aromatic rice pilaf can be cooked directly on the induction top in full view and olfactory range of your guests,” Best explains.
“For dessert you can gently melt coverture chocolate directly on the induction top, to be served with an abundance of seasonal berries for an incredibly easy and delicious finish, that will have your guests remarking on the ease of execution,” he says.
Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or attempting a new dish, using reliable appliances is key to perfecting each meal. “The Matte Black Range has so much knowledge under the hood, helping you achieve consistency and success every time. It’s designed by chefs for you,” Best says of the aesthetic appliance range.
“The internal menu does all the heavy lifting (at the press of the command wheel
) in terms of automated temperature and cooking times for a large index of recipes — giving you time to complete the accompaniments and even more importantly, be with your guests,” he adds.