As you twist the bright yellow lid off your Vegemite jar each morning and smear the spread on your piece of toast, it may be hard to imagine the black, salty paste being the star ingredient in a dessert by one of the world’s leading chefs. But that’s just what’s happened as chef Heston Blumenthal and his team, have created a Vegemite ice cream to serve in the chef’s Melbourne-based restaurant, Dinner by Heston, topping off a huge week for the Aussie spread.
Late last week it was announced that Vegemite was back in the hands of Australian ownership when dairy company Bega confirmed it would buy most of Mondelez International's Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business. Vegemite has long been owned by overseas interests but this move guaranteed its safe return to its land of origin.
Vegemite was invented by the Fred Walker company in Melbourne in the early 1920s. Walker had partnered with US-based Kraft foods and in the 1930s the spread was taken into the fold of the US company. It gained its iconic following for Australia during the 1940s when soldiers carried the spread to help maintain their vitamin B levels during World War Two.
Their team [spent] the past six months in Bray, UK - where Blumenthal’s flagship Fat Duck is located - deconstructing our iconic breakfast spread to uncover its base flavours
Vegemite’s loyal following has only grown and Blumenthal, along with his Group Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, was introduced to it when first visiting Australia. It’s status in Australia led the pair and their team to spend the past six months in Bray, UK - where Blumenthal’s flagship Fat Duck is located - deconstructing our iconic breakfast spread to uncover its base flavours.
Palmer-Watts identified elements of caramel, chocolate, yeast and of course, saltiness, which led to the result, simply titled Vegemite Ice Cream. However, this is Michelin-level Vegemite ice cream and the dish, as a whole, is a mix of contrasting textures with sweet and savoury flavours including a biscuit sourdough-crumble base with puffed spelt, cocoa nibs, burnt honey and macadamia nuts. There’s also salted caramel with a barley-chocolate ganache and at the table, the dish will be finished by the waiter who will pour a rich caramel sauce directly from the jar. Yes, that’s a Vegemite jar.
The dessert will be launched this weekend as part of a longer set menu and will be put on the a la carte dessert menu. It’s hard to say where Vegemite will turn up next. Now back as an Australian-owned icon and the star of a dish in a fancy restaurant. One place we know it will remain, forever smeared on our toast in the morning.