The Spanish Table With Jesse Gerner

MELBOURNE | The NEFF Market Kitchen is the recently relaunched South Melbourne Market demonstration kitchen. You can read all about the concept and plans for the space here, but this post is all about one of the demonstrations that The City Lane was invited to attend.

Jesse Gerner is known for his restaurants Bomba, Anada, and Green Park Dining, and the simple yet innovative Spanish food that he creates. We are big fans of Jesse’s cooking and when we found out that he was one of the chefs who would be supporting the NEFF Market Kitchen, we knew we had to attend one of his classes.


To start, we were treated to a simple snack – oven baked day old, olive oil soaked bread topped with jamon and cheese. I’d have happily snacked on these all night, but of course the best was yet to come.


Olives, bread and olive oil were naturally present on the tables for attendees to snack on while chatting with Jesse and the group about all things food, Spain, travel and life.


One of the things that I really appreciated about this class was that everything was prepared from scratch. There was no “here’s a little something I prepared earlier”.


As the first dish was prepared, the fish stock was set to simmer for the Arroz Negra that was to come later on.


Clams With Manzanilla & Mint

These clams (pipi) were so simple and utterly delicious. The manzanilla gave the clams that very traditional Spanish flavour and the non-traditional addition of mint was a twist that really worked.


Lamb Pinchos Morunos

This lamb was one of the highlights of the evening, and another example of simplicity at its best. The spice rub had definite Moorish influences, and in many ways reminded me of some of the flavours that I encountered earlier this year in Iran, especially the saffron. In fact this recipe was so tasty, that we’ve included Jesse’s recipe here so that you can make this dish yourself at home.

The best thing about this dish (apart from how good it tastes of course) is that you can make the spice mix beforehand and use it for this and other dishes when you’ve come home after a long day at work and want to whip up something quick and tasty.


Arroz Negra

The Arroz Negra was very similar to a paella as it is prepared in the same way but should not be confused with paella. It’s a popular Valencian and Catalonian dish that contains rice, blackened with squid ink, fish stock and squid, cuttlefish, cod, muscles and prawns. Definitely not one for those who don’t like seafood, but an absolute treat for those who do. My only wish is that there had been enough left over to take home for lunch the next day but unsurprisingly we had no trouble polishing this one off on the night.


PX Ice Cream

To finish off we were treated to a simple dessert, a kind of fancy rum & raisin dessert that contained house made vanilla ice cream, and muscatels covered with Pedro Ximénez. Simple and delicious.


Given that we were already fans of Jesse Gerner’s food before attending this class, we knew that we’d love what he cooked up for us but what we weren’t expecting was just how fun the night would be. Jesse is a really down to earth guy who is truly passionate about Spain and Spanish food and it was a pleasure to meet him and share stories. As for the NEFF Market Kitchen itself, it’s ultra modern and state-of-the art – sure to impress anyone with an interest in cooking.



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