Ten years ago, Patagonia toothfish conjured images of illegal fishing and endangered species.
Now, one of the world's rarest, hardest-to-catch fish is about to land in restaurants and, in about six months, in shops.
The Australian government has patrolled its territorial waters to keep out illegal fishers and Austral Fisheries, which now has a 2500-kilogram annual quota, uses hooks and lines to selectively catch the toothfish.
Chef Neil Perry describes the fish they catch 4000 kilometres offshore as ''supremely delicious, sustainable and Australian''. Perry isn't the only enthusiast. Launched at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Glacier 51 toothfish - named after the Heard Island glacial waters in which it's caught - was so well received, salesman Dylan Skinns admitted, ''we can barely keep up with the orders''.
This week it goes on the menu at Rockpool Bar & Grill in both Sydney and Melbourne, as well as at Sake in Sydney and Grossi Florentino in Melbourne.
The fish lives in the ice-cold water of the Antarctic's Great Southern Ocean. It's an oily fish with a high fat content to withstand the freezing conditions, but this makes for a fish of great versatility and deep, rich flavour.
''A chef's dream, they tell me,'' Skinns says.
There were other chefs' dreams at the festival, with Martin Benn of Sydney's Sepia discovering salumi - handcrafted smallgoods, including rolled pancetta, flat pancetta, salami of all varieties, cured loin, dried Sardinian sausage, and guanciale (cured pork jowl). ''It will be on the bar menu [at Sepia] before the end of the week,'' Benn says.
Food of the future was the focus of a panel discussion, with Peter Gilmore of Quay restaurant saying there would be less focus on foraging by chefs. More technique-driven cooking with a ''big emphasis on texture'' were his tips for restaurant trends.
And David Kinch of Manresa restaurant in California agreed texture was growing in importance. ''There are certain cuts of meat that have texture … more people are realising that's just the inherent nature of the meat and something to be celebrated,'' he said.
Sue Bennett was a guest of Sunshine Coast Destination.
● Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable Patagonia toothfish is appearing on menus in Sydney and Melbourne restaurants.
● Dining at home will enjoy a revival. For the well heeled, it will mean staff in the kitchen and a butler at the door.
● After a 12-year gap, apprenticeships for waiters are to be reintroduced. Research shows people will go back to a restaurant if the food is poor but the service is good, but finding skilled staff remains one of the industry's greatest challenges. ''My fear is we don't have enough kids looking for that career in the industry, but we have the resources [money to run courses],'' says John Hart, Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive.
Something we never knew
Mussels change sex. When the meat is white, a mussel is male and tastes the sweetest. Mussels with orange meat are female and are generally less tasty.
It's impossible to determine the sex before cooking.