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Three Ontario chefs show off the best of Aussie cooking at the epic Toronto Down Under dinners

Vegemite grilled cheese (no, really), kangaroo with quandong and whisky truffles (Image: Renée Suen)

Today is Australia Day, which celebrates the establishment of the first European colony in New South Wales in 1778 (also: dingoes, babies, Vegemite and Crocodile Dundee). Here in Toronto, three Ontario chefs—Matt Kantor (Secret Pickle Supper Club and Ghost Chef), John Placko (culinary director of Maple Leaf Foods) and Kingston wunderkind Luke Hayes-Alexander (Luke’s Gastronomy)–banded together to host three nights celebrating Australian cuisine, complete with Australian wines, beer and whisky pairings at the Cookbook Store’s kitchen studio, the site of last year’s El Bulli Imitació dinner.

This time round, Kantor took a back seat this time to Placko (an Australian native) and Alexander-Hayes, who recently staged at some of the best restaurants in Sydney. With nothing but a cheeky website (and some social media promotion) to tease ticket-buyer appetites, most of the evening’s attendees came with open minds and empty stomachs. Catering to 12 guests per evening, the trio sent out 15 courses that began with familiar indigenous ingredients used in unfamiliar ways before ebbing into unfamiliar territory—everything from quandong to wattleseed—and finishing off with a glorious Tim Tam Slam. No idea what we’re talking about? Check out the slideshow »