Up close with Sepia's Forest Floor
Martin Benn constructing one of Sepia's signature desserts.
Sepia's Forest Floor dessert is so extraordinary that one diner ordered four in one night at the Sydney restaurant.
And he hasn't been the only person to fall under the spell of chef Martin Benn's one-of-a-kind dish.
"We have to call regular guests that ask us to call them when the new season Forest Floor changes," says Benn, who was named Chef of the Year in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2011.
Sepia was awarded Restaurant of the Year in the 2012 guide and it has earned three hats for every year since. It's also a finalist as Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2017 awards, which are announced on Monday.
The Forest Floor is seen as Sepia's star dessert - but the dish was actually introduced a year after the restaurant opened, and was originally presented as a special.
"The inspiration came from my childhood of walking through the woodlands back home in the UK," says Benn. "I remember the sound of the branches cracking under my feet as I kicked through the fallen leaves. The sorbet that sits on top of the forest was there to represent the fruit that had fallen from the tree."
"The Forest Floor dessert changes with each season, so it may be sweet cherry sorbet with rose geranium cream in summertime to blackberry sorbet and fennel in autumn, and winter can consist of truffle honey cream and violets," he adds. "This one has a cherry brandy jelly and there was a lemon and yuzu jelly, with some elderflower inside. They're the representative of the dew that you might see, glistening in the morning on the ground of the forest."
Watch the video above to see the chef piece together the dessert - with its green tea moss, earthy soil made from chocolate cookies and feuillantines, fennel seeds, lavender cream and edible twigs.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide award night, presented by Citi and Vittoria, is on Monday September 5. The Guide will be on sale in newsagents and bookstores from September 6, with all book purchases receiving free access to the new Good Food app.