A few of Canberra’s food bloggers were recently invited by the team at newly opened restaurant Hoi Polloi in Old Parliament House to create a new Australian politician-inspired burger (the pollieburger) that would become a permanent addition to the Hoi Polloi menu. The name ‘hoi polloi’ is Greek for ‘the masses’ and is a fitting name for all the politicians that amassed at Old Parliament House when it was the Federal Parliament.
The pollieburger competition was judged by Executive Chef Andrew Collins as well as food critic Joanna Savill with the shortlist being put to a vote by the people (that were at the event). We all arrived at 6pm to find goodie bags waiting for us filled with instructions. We each received information on a different Australian Prime Minister which would inspire the theme for our burgers. There was a checklist of ingredients that we could choose from to create the pollieburger. There were a total of 12 food bloggers/food enthusiasts split into groups of four. I was in the first group that would go up to create the pollieburger along with three other bloggers in the first round.
The Prime Minister that I had to base my burger on was Gough Whitlam, and the day of this event just happened to be the 40th anniversary of the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. We all had to come up with clever names for our pollieburgers so I was initially going to call it ‘Don’t diss this Whitlam’ or something along those lines. I’m not very creative with names! Gough Whitlam was known to love Italian food so I immediately thought of a parmigiana-esque burger. J was my plus 1 to the event and mentioned I could call the burger ‘The Truculent Runt’ which Gough infamously called Garfield Barwick back in the day. There was bacon on the list of ingredients we could use, so I decided to call it ‘Gough’s Truculent Runt’.
The milk bun was a popular choice with three of us in the first round selecting it. We all lined up in our Hoi Polloi aprons and chef’s hats to talk about our burgers. Then it was time to select our ingredients as per the checklist and make our way into the kitchen. The Hoi Polloi chef’s cooked our protein for us (thankfully!) so all we had to do was assemble everything into our burger. It only took a few minutes to compile but it felt like much longer with so many people taking photos and so much attention on us. I wasn’t expecting that! The judges carefully taste tested each burger at the end of the round.
The judges then announced the top three burgers. Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut, but the three finalists were ‘1 in a Billy-on’ (inspired by Billy Hughes) by Hey I’m Natalia YT, The Full Yard (inspired by Bob Hawke) by Shenannagans, and The Royal Touch (I’ve forgotten who this was inspired by) by Inexplicable Wanderlust. It is now up to you, the people, to vote for the best of the three burgers which will stay on the menu permanently. This is decided by the most number of sales until 12 December 2015.
It was a daunting but fun experience! Hoi Polloi actually opened over a month ago. You’ll find the three burgers on the menu as well other tasty sounding items. The event had mini versions of the items on the Hoi Polloi menu. The yellow beets, goats curd, mustard cress and candied walnuts were fresh and light.
Then there was the pavlova bar where you could choose from two flavours of pavlova. There were a multitude of things you could top it with such as white chocolate, chocolate soil, an assortment of freshly cut fruit, and several types of sweet sauces.
Hoi Polloi is open for lunch seven days a week from 11.30am-2.30pm.
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