One was to check a site for a restaurant in Beverly Hills, but that's a long way off.
The other was to cook for a lunch promoting Qantas Airways' new, lower fare from Los Angeles to Sydney and tourism in New South Wales. Perry had two reasons to do that. First, he's in charge of the food served on Qantas. Secondly, three of his four restaurants, including the flagship Rockpool, are in Sydney, so bringing more travelers there is good for business.
Lunch, at the home of the Australian consul general, went from appetizers (goat cheese tortellini) to three courses paired with Australian wines and bread provided by one of Perry's chef chums, Thomas Keller.
The first course was a zucchini and Parmesan tart, a round of rich pastry topped with thin circles of zucchini. An arrangement of "summer vegetables" on the plate made sense because it's summer in Australia now. There was also black olive oil, which Perry makes by blending salty black olives with olive oil. The wine was 2008 Brokenwood Semillon.
New Zealand John Dory may have come from the wrong country, but in Australian hands, it came off very well. Perry poached it in water from tomatoes hung to drain. Scattered around it were cut-up fingerling potatoes and tomato confit and on top was a cluster of chervil, tarragon and micro parsley.
Perry's food is driven by multiculturalism and heavily influenced by Asia. (The best Thai restaurants outside of Thailand are in Australia, he told lunch guests.) His Sydney restaurant Spice Temple is devoted to Chinese regional cuisines, and his cookbook "Rockpool" (New Holland Publishers, Australia) has a large section of Asian-inflected recipes.
But this lunch was Mediterranean. It ended with strawberry mascarpone cake, a creamy strawberry mixture between two layers of dacquoise, and a luscious dessert wine, the 2006 De Bortoli Noble One, a botrytis Semillon from Riverina, New South Wales.
The Sydney Morning Herald's "Good Food Guide 2010" describes Perry as "the king of modern Sydney dining." Here are the addresses of his three restaurants in that city.
Rockpool, 107-109 George St., The Rocks, Sydney, Australia. Tel: 9252 1888.
Rockpool Bar and Grill, 66 Hunter St., Sydney, Australia. Tel: 8078-1900.
Spice Temple, 10 Bligh St., Sydney, Australia. Tel: 8078-1888.