RACV Club Sommelier Christian Maier reveals what makes the wine lists unique to Sojourn, the Wine Bar and Members’ Dining Room.
Lunar New Year Dinner
Bring your family or friends together for a Lunar New Year feast in the Members’ Dining Room, with unique dishes and a lion dance for good luck.
It’s an extra special Lunar New Year for guest chef Leslie Chan, who was born in the year of the Ox. An Ox year occurs every 12 years and each Chinese zodiac year is defined by one of five elements, making 2021 the year of the Metal Ox.
“It’s an important and special year to me,” Leslie says. “Oxen are hardworking and there is the expectation that good things are to come this year. I always say: you work hard and you get a good result.”
You can rest assured that Leslie is also working hard, alongside RACV Club Chef Callum Nugent, to create a celebratory affair in the Members’ Dining Room for Lunar New Year on February 12.
Their “East meets West” six-course degustation set menu combines Chinese and western flavours and cooking techniques. Leslie says different regions of China have different characteristics and he incorporates those flavours into his dishes.
“In the east, in Guangdong and Guangxi, they use a lot of five spices, star anise, garlic and ginger. In the west, near Mongolia, there is a lot of cumin and chilli, and in Shanghai, because it is close to the sea, they use seafood.”
Leslie likes to educate people about the history of the different regions in China through his cooking. As well as working in the hospitality industry in Hong Kong and Australia for 25 years, he spent 10 years teaching Asian cookery and commercial cookery at Holmesglen TAFE. He is now head of food innovation and training at Sushi Sushi.
“When you come to this dinner, you are not only eating delicious food you will learn a little more about the culture and the people,” Leslie says. “We are serving the drunken chicken salad and it is tradition for everybody to stir the salad with their chopsticks to bring good luck, and the use of red, gold and green leaves represents good luck and good health.”
Callum Nugent, the Club’s Sous Chef in the Members’ Dining Room, says the dinner is a chance to join in Melbourne’s Lunar New Year celebrations, as well as experience dishes you might not otherwise.
“The braised lamb shoulder will be cooked over 48 hours with cumin and coriander. Then we’ll pull it apart and put it back together and served with dried fruit and a spiced tomato salsa,” Callum says.
In collaboration with RACV Club Executive Chef Jason Camillo, he has created a white tomato consommé with gold leaf to be served between courses.
“There will also be a bit of theatrics, with the drunken chicken mixed at the table.”
Leslie says Lunar New Year is all about joyful family gatherings and “celebrating the people around us with happiness”.
The degustation menu can be adapted to be vegetarian and vegan, if requested at the time of booking.