Bali Hai’s pearl dish crowned a winner

Carly LadenBroome Advertiser
Bali Hai head chef Karl McPhail puts the finishing touches on his dish.
Camera IconBali Hai head chef Karl McPhail puts the finishing touches on his dish. Credit: Carly Laden

Bragging rights were on the line in a battle between Broome’s top chefs to see who makes the best dish with a local delicacy.

The Willie Creek Pearls Pearl Meat Cook-Off took place at Pearl Luggers on Thursday, August 30 as part of Shinju Matsuri festivities.

Head chefs from seven of Broome’s restaurants went head-to-head, including Mangrove Hotel, Bali Hai Cafe, The Zookeepers Store, Matso’s Brewery, Zee Bar, Oaks Hotel and Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa.

Not only did the restaurants have to impress about 300 people sampling their creations, they also had to impress celebrity chef Adam Liaw.

Liaw said he not only wanted to see the pearl meat being treated well but he wanted to see a reflection of Broome’s history through the dish.

“There’s so many influences here in Broome because of its varied history, from the indigenous culture to the European and Asian cultures as well,” he said. “Pearl meat is not an easy thing to cook.

“As long as they do it justice and also evoke the history of old Broome, the chefs will do well.”

It was certainly not Liaw’s first time in Broome, having visited the town many times over the years.

“It’s just a fascinating part of Australia to me,” he said.

“I feel very relaxed whenever I come to Broome and it always sticks out in my mind as a great place to visit after travelling around the world.”

After Liaw tasted all of the dishes, he selected Bali Hai Cafe’s creation, which included a mudcrab croquette and a pineapple salsa, as the judge’s favourite.

Bali Hai Cafe head chef Karl McPhail said he felt very humbled to be announced as the winner and get the Adam Liaw seal of approval.

“I entered the competition with the aim to showcase the strength and quality of the local ingredients we have here in Broome,” he said.

“The standard was really good this year and it was a great day all round.

“I am already thinking about next year’s cook-off, so it’s very exciting indeed.”

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