Cosgrove’s Kitchen Rules: Where’s my Thermomix?

Government House Open Day 03

When it comes to Australia’s obsession with reality television and high end cuisine, not even those at the pinnacle of public life are immune from the lure of high-tech new cooking gadgets like the $2000-plus Thermomix.

Even Canberra’s Government House calling is now for quotes to supply the culinary super toy.

It seems that after years of apparently toiling away with sub-standard, leaking and unreliable equipment the master chefs of Dunrossil Drive have finally sweated the tight-fisted Department of Finance into forking out for a major kitchen renovation and refit of the Governor General’s run-down galleys.

It’s a shopping list easily long enough to whet the appetite of any commercial catering equipment supplier worth their salt that’s keen on serving a head of state.

The proposed kitchen equipment replacement blitz published on the AusTender website includes combination steamer ovens with at least six trays each, a pair of new upright freezers for pastry, bread, stock and meat, electric fryers, new benches, blenders and mixers.

But the tall order also candidly reveals the wide extent of industrial decay at the GG’s heritage listed residences in Canberra and Sydney have probably made the environment for catering to hundreds of guests at a time more like hell’s kitchen than a Harvey Norman showroom.

Apart from a clear lack of storage space, the reasons cited for needing one replacement freezer could be enough to create an official case of indigestion.

“Temperature fluctuates, cannot trust for freezing for periods month,” the notes say.

“Food safety issues increasing and makes bench over unusable due to condensation issues. Repairs have become increasingly costly and no longer worth repairing. Propose to use for dry store and turn off as unit is built into bench. New unit to be standalone where hired freezer currently sits.”

Then there’s the awkward problem of “cross flavouring” which we suspect means that something fishy might be afoot.

Another item, a 20 litre mixer, is bluntly cited as “leaking oil into bowl” while other blenders slated for replacement are listed as having their “motor frequently burnt out.”

Just getting a simple burgers and chips at Government House appears to be proving a dangerous undertaking. The existing split electric pan and fryer is listed as having “no temperature control” and creating “[workplace health and safety] concerns given hot fat/burn issues.”

Despite the catalogue of culinary woe, there is a clear theme that the many of the new appliances will literally be labour saving devices that will cut down on the need to roster on what Government News presumes are tightly vetted kitchen staff to do the peeling and chopping.

A request for a “chopping unit” food processor equal to a ‘Robotcoupe 301 Ultra’ justifies its purchase as a saving on “staff costs and preparation time” and asks for a “recommendation of machine that can also dice (since the 301 model can’t)”.

As for the much vaunted Thermomix, a device not offered by retailers and sold only direct by distributors, it appears that Government House is keeping its powder very dry in terms of a price tag.

The procurement documents ask for suppliers to “provide price options” for both the cult following machine from Vorwerk as well as its competitor the “Hot Mix Pro.”

Whether His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC is prepared to open the Government House kitchen refit to reality television producers remains to be seen . . . but given the precarious state of the federal Budget and the standing of Knighthoods, it’s a cost saving  idea that might just make it onto the menu.

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