Chef Pasi Petänen doesn’t sit still. Bouncing from restaurant to restaurant, with a string of pop-ups along the way, he’s now back to host 12 dinners at Mecca in Alexandria.
Last year’s That’s Amore Italian series sold out in two days. For this one, called Cooking by Colours, Petänen’s working with old Cafe Paci team members Dennis Roman (formerly of Est., now wine importer and part-time sommelier at Hubert) and Zoltan Magyar (former manager at marque, Quay). They’ll resurrect some of the dishes from award-winning Cafe Paci in Darlinghurst, which closed at the end of 2015.
“We haven’t cooked together for years. It will be good fun to work with them again,” says Petänen. These weekly dinners will follow the colours of spring: red, yellow, white and green.
“When I opened Cafe Paci, in the first week we did this white salad, which was like turnips, watermelon, cured Murray cod and apple. It’s all based on [dishes like] that,” says Petänen. The decadent potato bread and the carrot, yoghurt and liquorice dessert is also returning.
During week one (red) expect ingredients such as strawberry, rose, lamb, capsicum, blood, pink pepper, tuna and Campari, among others.
Green week has proven the most challenging. “How will we make meat green?” asks Petänen. “Maybe grass-fed beef. [It won’t necessarily be] visual colours; just conceptual. Dishes will have a bit of a sense of humour.”
Why does Petänen have a habit of running short-term kitchens? “I’m still looking for a permanent site that I can afford,” he says. “And it’s more challenging popping up and doing food like this,” he says.
Each dinner will be $85 per person for a five-course set menu, with extra for wine. The series will run every Thursday and Friday from October 14 to November 4. Bookings can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org