Be My Guest - My most memorable meal - Will Cooke, Vapiano

Here's the first in a new Thursday series, Be My Guest. I'll be asking foodies around town to share some of their favourite meal memories. The events that have stuck in their mind long after the occasion has passed.

First up is a round the world trip of restaurants starting in Australia and ending in London from Will and Jodie Cook who recently established Vapiano, a new Italian eatery in the heart of Brisbane city.

Our most memorable meal…. 

There are so many things wrapped up in the connotation of your most memorable meal. The food, the place, the service and the company or sometimes how you even came to be there. In a lifetime, how do you determine what was your ‘most’ memorable? How do you separate out the different parts – sometimes like a jigsaw – some meals have been short a few pieces.

When asked to write this – I wondered how to separate the pieces; I closed my eyes and let my mind wander over my memories.

What seemed like a lifetime ago, before marriage and children – our local Thai restaurant became the place for announcements, eight young couples ready to take on the world would converge on My Thai in Paddington to break their news. Engagements, pregnancies and departures for foreign countries were all announced in this way. In fact sometimes the announcement itself was cut up into pieces and used as a jigsaw puzzle to be put together to find out what the announcement was and who was doing the announcing. The food and drinks were always great, washed down with some of our dearest friends – what joy we shared at these meals and even though I don’t recall a memorable dish – but each of these meals became memorable in their own right with us announcing our first pregnancy (shedding tears) and our departure for Europe.

With the opportunity to live and travel through Europe there are a handful of restaurants that left their mark and are places we still talk about today.

Bang Restaurant, a small, popular restaurant just off St Stephens Green in Dublin which we frequented again and again for the best scallops we have ever tasted, so much so, that scallops are now compared to that Bang standard – ‘They ain’t no Bang’ – is our standard reply. It was no secret that we sought out any occasions or excuse to find a reason to go there even after we had departed Dublin.

Restaurangen, was the very first restaurant we had dinner at when we arrived to live in Stockholm. The menu devised in a unique way, where you make your selection using a pencil to mark the box on the paper menu – you could choose 3, 5 or 7 dishes including desert and each dish had a particular flavour and that flavour was linked to a tasting wine that best suited the dish. Needless to say, a great way to taste a variety of food and wine and where we our last dinner in Sweden ended three years later on a cold, snowy night – when leaving we ended up in a joyful snow fight – a perfect way to end our meal and our time in Sweden.

Whilst living in Europe we had the opportunity to dine at Zuma, a restaurant hidden in a small laneway in Knightsbridge, London where we always needed to book weeks prior to our trip to London to ensure a table. With divine, if not costly Peach Bellini’s, the most melt in your mouth salt and pepper calamari, char grilled chicken wings with rock salt and lime, sweet potatoes cooked over the char grill and salmon sashimi to die for. Purely from a food point of view this would be the most memorable and somewhere we will always try to return to over the years.

As I think back over these and many more dinners, to separate out one would be difficult, if the world was ending tomorrow and I was asked what I wanted as my last meal, I would perhaps pick a dish from all my favorite restaurants and I would have to um and ahh about the selection (there’s only so much one could eat), but I know the one thing that I wouldn’t need to think about was who I was going to share it with, we would be together with our children and as many friends and family as we could fit at the dinner table…they are the people who have shared some of the memorable meals of our lives…

Will and Jodie Cooke
Vapiano Australia