If you caught my recent post about the new menu developed for Carnivale at Movie World, you might have realised that Cajun Creole food is kinda my thing. I seem to have some inbuilt understanding of it, which is very strange for a girl from the northern beaches of Sydney, and a girl with Irish ancestry at that – it’s about as far away from New Orleans as you can get. I can only put it down to a past life experience, how else could you explain me ‘inventing’ Smothered Chicken as a 17 year old? You can’t! Lets just roll with the reincarnation theory, OK?
I was so taken with the menu I went back less than a week later to interview Adam Smith, one of the Senior Chefs for the group that includes Movie World, Sea World, Australian Outback Adventure…Adam is obviously a busy man and I was lucky he gave me some time out of his busy schedule. Thanks, Adam!
Senior Chef Adam Smith
So much
care has gone into the menu for Carnivale. There is a wide variety of choice,
and some fairly spectacular things to eat. Is this a new concept for Movie
World, and are you hoping to attract foodie tourists as well as the usual theme
park audience? 
I guess
that day to day this could be perceived as a new concept, but  to be honest we have much experience in large
volume themed banqueting. For quite a
while we have been experimenting and trying to produce contemporary food at
similar pricing to other external market offerings; the menu is basically an extension
of this, but a lot wilder. The menu itself
was a result of a lot of research into the cuisine of New Orleans, and also the
event of Carnivale/Mardis Gras. Of course
there was a lot of development regarding flavour profiles to ascertain
authenticity of the flavours. My ultimate
goal at Movie World is to have our VIP pass holders coming in for lunch, and then going
for a ride if they have time; not the other way around. Along the same vein,
I’d love an out of state visitor to put Movie World at the top of the heap of theme parks
or give us priority due to our unique food offerings.

How do you
think the general public will respond to the bold flavours of authentic Cajun
Creole Cuisine?
To be
honest, most of the flavours are quite bold so we have taken a bit of a punt by
not changing the authenticity of the flavours and the punch that they provide. We have a
few softer offerings; such as the Orleans Dog, BBQ Wings, etc, but there’s also
a lot on offer for the more adventurous; Seafood Boil (with Chef Tom’s secret
Mississippi Napalm seasoning),  Boneless
Chicken Wings with Frank’s hot sauce, Pork Ribs slow smoked for 7 hours in the
Yoder smoker (if you don’t think that you have to be adventurous… the rub we
use is also a closely guarded secret), the Po’ Boys, awesome dessert pie…That’s not
all and there’s a heap more offerings on the street, also scattered around the
street are condiment stations stocked with more hot sauce of the Frank’s
variety, Tabasco etc, so that the ‘hot heads’ can really spice their food up. As for
offering and serving the food on the street, food markets have been becoming
highly successful locally; and I believe that the street stall/pop up approach
is just a natural progression for us in-park.
Obviously a
huge effort has gone into making the Carnivale Menu so authentic! Did you send
a research team to New Orleans, or bring someone over in an advisory capacity?
(Tough gig, btw!)
No, and No. The chef’s
team researched a great lot on the internet and watched a heap of film and
documentaries, spent quite a few hours analyzing recipes etc…Then we
went to the kitchen and played… The result of a lot of r&d was then
presented to a group of Exec’s, a couple of whom hail from the South, others
whom have visited and eaten the cuisine that we were replicating. Trust me, if
you think that we can sneak anything past these guys, we cannot, hence the
purchase of the smoker. We have
subsequently been validated from the comments of our guests who have either
visited or lived in Louisiana, the positive comments that we have been
receiving are great, and testament to all of the hard work that has been put in
to this project. Oh. I did
fly down to Adelaide for 4 days for a crash course on the smoker (imported from
Kansas).

The
Jambalaya and Gumbo taste exactly as they would in New Orleans. What would you
say is the most authentic thing on the menu?
Funnily
enough the Jambalaya and Gumbo gave us the most heartache when creating the
authentic flavour profiles, but were the most important to get absolutely spot on.
These dishes were the subject of many, many hours of development, but the end
result is well worth it. We believe
that we have created a great snapshot of Nola food, and the cuisine of
Louisiana, favourites being the above mentioned. My personal favourite is the
seafood boil. The reception of this concept has been overwhelming. 

Are all of
the ingredients sourced locally or are there any items that had to be imported
to be truly authentic?
All
ingredients were actually sourced locally (within Australia) Gumbo can
be produced with or without (depends who taught you the recipe…) file powder
and okra. Okra would have been hard due to the season; file powder impossible.
This is due to the fact that no Australia knows that it’s Sassafras powder and
that it’s used to thicken the Gumbo (we used extra Roux instead).

Did you
have to import any special equipment to make any of the dishes on the menu?
We bought
the Yoder smoker; it’s a Frontiersman Comp Cart, and was freighted from
Adelaide. Charcoal
fired offset firebox, she’s a beauty. 1,4 tonne though…Tom’s baby
during this project was the seafood boil. He sourced the burners locally and
had them modified. He also had the inserts for the pots custom made to his
specs. 

I see
Seafood Boil becoming very popular at Australian BBQs. Are there any menu items
that you think will change the culinary face of Australia? What do you think
will really take off?
I would
LOVE for the seafood boil to be embraced! We have an abundance of local seafood
and an oversupply of amateur cooks. What could go wrong? In all seriousness,
this method is a restaurant waiting to happen. Smoking is
starting to spread here. This gives me hope, because I’m already addicted to
the method, and the smoker is my project. The whole
movement of Creole/Cajun is starting to become a trend actually…
There are
some menu items that are not authentically Cajun or Creole, like the Seafood
Chowder and the Orleans Dog, where these an attempt to appeal to a wider
audience that may not be ready for Gumbo?
To be
honest, the answer is yes; but we still didn’t want to offer our standard fare
as a safety blanket. At least the Orleans Dog is different  (all beef, nice smoky flavour etc.) but it
can be spiced up also.

I loved the
Seafood Chowder. Are you able to share the recipe?
This is a
hard one for me, seeing as this is my own personal recipe, developed over more
than 2 dozen years in the kitchen professionally. I have taught only a few how
to make it (there is no recipe). Who knows? If you and
I were in a kitchen, all of the ingredients were there and we cooked together….Hint Hint!

Are there
any plans to keep the menu after Carnivale has finished its run? Perhaps a New
Orleans themed café? (Fingers crossed!)
I certainly
hope that Carnivale will continue on for a few weekends next month, or worst
comes to worst we have to wait until next year to do it again. Personally,
I think that a lot of the food can be used in park, but  what I don’t wish for is for it to become
passé. The Boil Up
has huge potential. The smoker
will be used to excess (in fact I have a smoked tomato fondue on a 3 course
function dinner coming up that I’m going to use the smoker to help create this
with). The pulled
pork with “Sweet baby Ray’s” sauce MUST go somewhere. A NOLA
themed restaurant sounds like a great idea!
Chef Tom in action at the Seafood Boil Stand.
Carnivale is open on selected dates during July at Movie World on the Gold Coast, see website for details.
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2 thoughts on “Authentic Cajun Creole Food at Movie World: an Interview with Chef Adam Smith!

  • 06/27/2014 at 1:20 PM
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    I love Cajun and Creole cooking, too…both Granddads are from Louisiana and this way of cooking is close to my heart. Texas being Louisiana's neighbor is a plus because that style of cooking crosses state lines with ease.

    • 07/16/2014 at 2:24 AM
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      You are so lucky to have grown up with Cajun Creole cuisine! I'd never even heard of it until after I started cooking it…
      xx

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