The Apprentice, School of Hospitality,

Without a sign of Sir Alan Sugar or Donald Trump we entered a door marked The Apprentice.

It's always exciting to discover a new restaurant, especially one that has been around for some time, but has just been well-hidden. Luckily I had been invited to a luncheon sponsored by the Eastern Mediterranean Tourism Association (www.emta.org.au) and promised an 'Eastern Mediterranean theme', so finally the secret was out.

At The Apprentice all the chefs and wait-staff (with the exception of their tutors of course) are TAFE hospitality students. By having a real restaurant in which to serve the dining public, they are getting authentic hands-on experience. In this case they had the added challenge of creating a menu that was authentic to a particular cuisine and, as it turned out, absolutely delicious.

The menu offered four or five dishes in each course: none of that lazy set menu, alternate-service function menu business. These were real dishes, with beautifully balanced flavours, served attractively, and delivered carefully by the trainee staff.

My roast quail bisteeya pie - a crisp fillo triangle with succulent seasoned and shredded quail filling on a delicious date and blood orange salad - was as good (or better) than any similar dish in this city. The following course of duck chorizo with braised red cabbage and lentils under a creamy almond sauce, not only looked good but balanced perfectly the spicy, sweet and robust flavours of the main ingredients.

There are views over the surrounding old buildings from this roof top restaurant that doubles as a TAFE classroom, but for most of the time, the food held our attention totally. It is here that our next generation's chefs are in training, and judging by my stand-out lunch, we have plenty to look forward to in the future.

In the TV show, The Apprentice, all but one of the contestants are finally fired. Here all the students are fired, but in another sense. These young people are fired up with enthusiasm for serving the finest food, the very best way they can.

The Apprentice, School of Hospitality, Level 7, Building E, Ultimo College of TAFE, corner Thomas and Harris Streets, Ultimo, NSW, 02 9217 5527, www.sit.nsw.edu.au/theapprentice Licensed, open to the public on weekdays, during term time for lunch and dinner.

www.emta.org.au

 

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