Cooking with Pepsi? Who would’ve thunk it? In honour of their new Vanilla flavour, Pepsi Max brought four of Australia’s top chefs to create a limited-time pop-up dining experience in Sydney.
Joining forces for this culinary whirl were Jimmy Hurlston (Guilty, Easey’s), Andy Bowdy (Saga), and Andres Walters (The Lobo Plantation, The Kittyhawk), and Mitch Orr.
The top floor of The Old Rum Store on Kensington Street in Chippendale played host to the event. Kensington Street is quickly becoming our favourite place: there’s Handpicked Wines, the Russell’s Craft Reserve popup, not to mention Holy Duck! and The Old Clare Hotel.
We began with an aperitif called ‘Brad’s Drink’ — grape, kiwi and lemon thyme syrup, blanco vermouth, white rum, lemon juice and lemon thyme. Dre Walters from Lobo Plantation created it as a twist on the Long Island. Super-sweet, I had to be restrained from only having two.
Our entree, from Jimmy Hurlston of Guilty/Easey’s, was The Burgerlord — a mini cheeseburger paired with mac’n’cheese with vanilla bacon crumble. To drink, Dre again created a cocktail: the ‘Grogram’. Spiced rum, Pepsi Max Vanilla, stout-spiced reduction, lemon juice, sugar, and a flamed cinnamon quill was just what the doctor ordered.
Our entree, by Mitch Orr of Acmi, was braised pig’s head on top of rice, with XO Sauce, fresh scallions, and nori. The entire thing: braised in Pepsi Max Vanilla. Amazing.
Our final dish was the stunning dessert by Andy Bowdy of Saga. ‘A Little Splice of Heaven’ mixed caramelised pineapple with whipped vanilla cream, Pepsi Max Vanilla spice gel, lime meringue shards, lime curd, vanilla buttermilk sorbet (mmmm) and pineapple crisps. A delicious concoction.
And the final, stunning moment: the ‘Breakfast Cuba Libre’ from Dre. Served on platters, we had carbonated white rum in a glass, with on the platter the following accoutrements: candied limes. Pepsi Max Vanilla and citric acid jelly, a tube o lime and mint paste, and a toothbrush. No, really. It has to be seen to be believed.
The entire experience is one-of-a-kind, and highlights how creative chefs and bartenders can get with interesting ingredients. At $33, it’s a true bargain the likes of which you don’t see much of.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa will be making all future Cuba Libres with Pepsi Max Vanilla. Follow her on Instagram.