12 days: on the sixth day of christmas: wilkinson… (2015)

~ At the start of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood, there was only one chef with whom I was not familiar at all. I had neither heard of Matt Wilkinson, nor his restaurant Pope Joan in Melbourne, Australia.  And for this reason, when I was asked, as I always […]



At the start of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood, there was only one chef with whom I was not familiar at all.

I had neither heard of Matt Wilkinson, nor his restaurant Pope Joan in Melbourne, Australia.  And for this reason, when I was asked, as I always am, which dinner I most anticipated this year, I replied that it was his.  Halfway through this dinner series, on the sixth day, I finally got to discover Wilkinson’s cooking when he presented a seven-course dinner with hosting chef Christopher Kostow.



Originally from Yorkshire, England, Wilkinson seemed to have adopted a quirky Australian kick to his accent. Coupled with his irreverent sense of humor (suggested in his restaurant’s name), it made for a dynamic presentation.  A prankster and jokester in the kitchen from the get-go, he was very popular among the cooks and staff at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Wilkinson’s carefree, big-hearted way with people was reflected in his food, which was simple, hearty, and flavorful.  Painted with broad strokes and finished with a wink, his cooking was a departure from the more measured plates normally presented at the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It reminded me of Joshua McFadden’s cooking, and the Frankies boys’ (Castranovo & Falcinelli) dinner last year.


Fresh buffalo milk cheese.


Like the melting pot of cultures that Wilkinson described of Melbourne, his food was stylistically diverse.  The only common thread was immense flavor.  His four canapés were a good example of this.  They ranged from silky buffalo’s milk cheese – scooped fresh out of the pot in which it had been set – served with bright, grassy Australian olive oil and salt, to broccoli florets, which were sautéed with maple syrup until slightly caramelized, and then veiled with tissue-thin slices of guanciale.

There was a mini biscuit, which he served with crème fraîche and a spot of Yarra Valley salmon roe.  And clams he presented raw, in their shells, with two different sauces.  One was a fermented black bean sauce.  The other was a homemade “XO sauce.”  Both represented the culinary influences from nearby Asia, and the high Asian immigrant presence in Australia.


Freshly Dug Potatoes


Wilkinson recalled being a poor cook in England, and eating potatoes, simply heated up and mixed with some yogurt and tinned clams. In remembrance of those meagre days, for this dinner, he cooked what he called “freshly dug today” potatoes (from the restaurant’s garden) in clam juice, mixed them with yogurt and clams, creating a milky sauce, and finished them with fistfuls of chopped herbs.  These potatoes he served as a side dish to a family-style beef dinner, along with plates of “Waldorf” salad, mixed full of colorful nasturtium blossoms.  He readily admitted that there was very little about his salad that was actually Waldorf.  But, cooking in America, he liked the idea of it.

From the garden, he also plucked some carrots, which he served with little more than some smoked yogurt and wattle seeds (from the tree, not the bird, as he joked to diners after the dinner).


7th Course: Beef


Kostow showed up with what was, perhaps, my favorite dish from the entire Twelve Days of Christmas.  It was a bowl of house-milled grits made from corn grown in the restaurant’s garden just a mile down the road.  It had simply been cooked in water and fortified with dairy, and then topped with butter and sheets of thinly shaved white truffle.

I’m generally not inclined towards the soft, creamy, spoonable family of foods.  But, these grits – even without the butter and white truffles – were incredibly flavorful, suspending the warmth summer in its milky sweetness.  It was fantastic.


8th Course: Cindarella Pumpkin


“When winter comes around, you Americans love everything pumpkin,” Wilkinson observed with a touch of sarcasm.  So, for dessert, he served a parfait pitched to please what he perceived to be a distinctly Yankee preference.  This included cubes of cooked pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and a frothy top of warm white chocolate foam.




Below, you’ll find the menu from the sixth night of the Twelve Days of Christmas featuring Matt Wilkinson.   To see all of the photos from this dinner, CLICK HERE.


Warm Biscuits
Yarra Valley salmon roe, crème fraîche.

Fresh Buffalo’s Milk Cheese
Olive oil and salt.

Pan-Fried Broccoli
Maple syrup, guanciale.

With fermented black beans,
And housemade “XO sauce.”

(Matt Wilkinson)

First Course 
Fermented Kohlrabi
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Second Course
Charred Leek
Macadamia, mustard.

Third Course 
Medicinal Chicken Broth

Fourth Course 
Our Corn
Butter, white truffles.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Fifth Course 
Smoked yoghurt, wattle seed.

Sixth Course 
Freshly dug today potatoes, “Waldorf” from the garden.

Seventh Course 
Cindarella Pumpkin
Gingerbread, hot white chocolate.


Sylvaner, 2012

White Blend, 2014

Staglin Family Vineyards
Chardonnay, 2010

Dalle Valle
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1996

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013


Christopher Kostow and Matt Wilkinson


Below are links to my posts and photos from all of the Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended over the past four years at the Restaurant at Meadowood.  Each chef is listed with the restaurant with which they were cooking at the time they participated in the event (some have moved on to other projects and restaurants).


Scott Anderson (Elements; Princeton, New Jersey)
John & Karen Shields (Formerly of Townhouse; Chilhowie, Virginia)
Phillip Foss (EL Ideas; Chicago, Illinois)
Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions; San Francisco, California)
Jason Franey (Canlis Restaurant; Seattle, Washinton)
Matthias Merges (Yusho; Chicago, Illinois)
Mori Onodera (Formerly of Mori Sushi; Los Angeles, California)
James Syhabout (Commis; Oakland, California)
Nick Anderer (Maialino; New York, New York)
David Toutain (Agapé Substance; Paris, France)
Josh Habiger & Erik Anderson (The Catbird Seat; Nashville Tennessee)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon & New York, New York)
Rodolfo Guzman (Boragó; Santiago, Chile)
Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca and Roberta’s; Brooklyn, New York)
Tim Cushman (O Ya; Boston, Massachusetts)
Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner; Raleigh, North Carolina)
David Chang (Momofuku; New York, New York)
Matthew Accarrino (SPQR; San Francisco, California)
Mark Ladner & Brooks Headley (Del Posto; New York, New York)
Rasmus Kofoed (Geranium; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine; San Francisco, California)
David Kinch (Manresa; Los Gatos, California)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Matthew Orlando (Amass; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Frank Castranovo & Frank Falcinelli (Frankies 457, Prime Meats; New York, New York)
Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf; Dranouter, Belgium)
Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère; La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France)
Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn; Lummi Island, Washington)
Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene’s; Portland, Oregon)
Virgilio Martinez (Central; Lima, Peru)
Grant Achatz (Alinea; Chicago, Illinois)
Corey Lee (Benu; San Francisco, California)
Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo; Oslo, Norway)
Ignacio Mattos (Estela; New York, New York)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad; New York, New York)
Nenad Mlinarevic (Focus; Vitznau, Switzerland)
Christian Puglisi (relæ; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil; Mexico City, Mexico)
Joshua Skenes (Saison; San Francisco, California)
Matthew Wilkinson (Pope Joan; Melbourne, Australia)
Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan ([One]; Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Isaac McHale (The Clove Club; London, The United Kingdom)
Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread; Healdsburg, California)
Atsushi Tanaka (A.T. Restaurant; Paris, France)
Justin Yu (Oxheart; Houston, Texas)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Photos: Oysters with fermented kohlrabi; Matt Wilkinson pranking Eloiy Perez with some spot prawns; Matt Wilkinson and Eloiy Perez scooping freshly made buffalo’s milk cheese out of the pot; Vanessa Mateus mixing herbs into warm potatoes with yogurt; beef, potatoes with clams and yogurt, and “Waldorf” salad, served family-style; the wine pairings; Christopher Kostow and Matt Wilkinson.

Categories 12 days 2015

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