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Top chef delves into the archives to bring historical menus to life

13 Sep 2011

The State Government is offering West Australians the chance to win a place at a luncheon where WA chef Hadleigh Troy will delve into the archives to interpret and reinvent menus from a range of State dinners dating from the 1920s.

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day today announced that Eating the Archives would be a special event and online exhibition as part of the Commonwealth Festival Perth.

“The staged luncheon will not be a re-creation of a single historic dinner but a demonstration of how historical archives can be reinterpreted to be relevant today,” Mr Day said. 

“The idea for this event emerged when archivists from the State Records Office (SRO) uncovered a treasure trove of menus and documentation about State banquets.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman said Hadleigh Troy will use fresh, local produce to interpret the archives with a creative and modern twist.

“The Department of Agriculture and Food has partnered with SRO for this event and the dishes will be prepared using premium quality WA produce supported by the Buy West Eat Best campaign,” Mr Redman said.

“Eating the Archives will bring history alive and connect people with the State archive collection but it also throws the spotlight on the best local produce WA has to offer."

Head chef and owner of Restaurant Amuse, Hadleigh Troy, said that as a chef the last thing he expected to find himself doing was trawling through archives for menu ideas.

“The process of putting on the gloves and looking through all the old archives surprised me and I drew unexpected inspiration from handling original documents,” Mr Troy said.

“Asparagus and aspic were definitely the food fashions of the day, like heirloom carrots would be today; heirloom refers to vegetables grown before the 1950s - before commercial farming led to hybrids - you could call them archival vegies.”

The open-air lunchtime event will take place on Friday, October 28 in the People’s Space at the Perth Cultural Centre (PCC) directly after the official opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that will be streamed live to the PCC’s big screen.

Places at the lunch can be secured by registering online on the SRO’s website

The Commonwealth Festival Perth will be held from October 23-30 with the People’s Space open from October 26-29 and is supported by the Department of Culture and the Arts and Lotterywest.