Born and raised in Israel, at just thirteen Tal Buchnik had already started cooking at a local restaurant. After moving to Sydney in order to further his culinary studies, he found himself falling for the hospitality charm that is Merivale. Tal quickly worked his way to Sous Chef at Mr Wong and is now part of the brand spanking new team at Jimmy’s Falafel in Sydney, whilst also offering his own catering and private dinners experience with Dinner by Buchnik.
In the kitchen, Tal looks to his home region in the middle east, a true cross-intersection of Asia and Mediterranean Europe foods and flavours, for his own finesse and flair.
We were fortunate to spend a 41 degree Sunday in Sydney with Tal, cooking a recipe he conjured up to pair with the Jacques Lassaigne ‘Les Vignes de Montgueux’ Champagne.
We actually tried our own hand at diving for lobsters off Avalon in Sydney’s northern beaches, but only came up with a few Abalone to show for it. Still the attempt was real and all part of a pretty magical day.
The delicate and sweet component of Lobster, with a spice and peppery kick, against the dry and bubbly Champagne was probably the most bougie yet enjoyable food experience we’ve had in a long time.
Below is Tal’s recipe, method and a few photos from the day.
Turkish pepper pesto
- 500gr Turkish peppers
- 3 sprigs fresh Italian basil- leaves only
- 1 green chilli - halved lengthwise and deseeded
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup almonds- whole, toasted
- 100gr comte cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 sprig marjoram, leaves only
- 300ml extra-virgin olive oil
- Black pepper freshly cracked, pinch
- Ground cardamom – pinch
- Ground coriander seeds – pinch
Toast the almonds in a pan until fragrant and let them cool.
Slice Turkish peppers lengthwise, discard seeds and trim the tops.
In a food processor, blitz all ingredients except the almonds to a smooth paste, gradually adding olive oil to achieve the required texture. At the end, add almonds and pulse twice, keeping the almonds only partly bruised.
Grilling the lobster:
I use live lobster only.
Split in half lengthwise, season with salt and placed on the grill flesh side up.
After 3-4 minutes, spread the pesto over the lobster flesh and cover with a metal tray.
After 2-3 minutes, carefully remove the metal tray and check if the lobster is cooked with a fork or a skewer.
Let it rest for a minute, sprinkle sea salt flakes and fresh lemon juice and simply enjoy with a glass of champagne.
- Tahini- 300ml, high quality
- Water (ice cold) around 250ml
- Lemon juice- half a lemon
- Salt to taste
- I like my tahini quite thick and sharp in flavor.
- I use alkanater tahini (Lebanon) or Har Bracha (Israel)
In a food processor or a mixing bowl, add tahini and lemon juice. Gradually add the water until desired consistency is achieved.
Season with sea salt and store up to 3 days in the fridge.
Grilling the broccolini:
Trim 1\2 cm from the bottom of the broccolini and r ub with olive oil and season with sea salt.
Simply grill the broccolini on both sides until the color has changed to a deeper green and char marks have appeared. (about 1-2 minutes on each side). taste one of you're not sure, it's the perk of being the cook.
Sumak vinaigrette for the cos lettuce
- 100ml olive oil
- Juice from half a lemon
- Pinch salt
- Pinch sumak
Simply mix all ingredients and pour over your favorite lettuce leaves .I used butter lettuce for this dish.