Top Shelf: Smoke-and-mirrors performance never fails to impress

Apr 1, 2018 by Timothy MacDonald

Top Shelf: by Chef Timothy MacDonald

Nothing more than a disassembled pot noodle snack, this Porega (remember that “poor man’s Porsche” of the 1980s?) has all the razzle dazzle of a Siegfried & Roy show in Vegas – and sometimes the tiger bites!

A coffee siphon apparatus is used to infuse crystal clear consommé with fragrant herbs and whatever else takes your fancy. It’s a pompous, self-aggrandizing charter dish that’s performance table-side never fails to impress.

The apparatus is lit at the table and, once the consommé has reached the correct temp, it is sucked up the spout like Augustus Gloop into the infusion bowl, where for five minutes the infusion process occurs – all observed by the guests. And sometimes, like with Beaker from The Muppet Show, this is where things can go terribly pear-shaped, depending on the prevailing aft deck winds blowing the precious flame out.

Assuming all goes to plan tableside, the flame is then extinguished and, like Jim Morrison at the Hollywood Bowl, the whole lot comes tumbling down in a heap into the mother bowl.

At this stage, the consommé is then transported into a posh glass teapot and poured tableside into the soup bowls, which arrived exactly at the same time that the decanting of the infused stock was taking place.The soup bowls arriving from the galley contain a single ravioli, shrimp and token herbs.

It’s all smoke and mirrors – nothing more than a posh version of 5-minute pot noodles.

Sweet’s 5-minute Shellfish Consomme with Basil and Ravioli

A coffee siphon apparatus is used to infuse crystal clear consommé with fragrant herbs and whatever else takes your fancy.

750 mls shellfish stock
6 large basil leaves
6 shrimp, cooked and deveined
6 shrimp & sun dried tomato ravioli
6 teaspoons tomato concassè

Timing is crucial. It’s important that while the siphon is reacting, everything in the galley is ready to go.

At the point of decanting the infused stock into the glass teapot, begin to plate up the soup garnish by reheating ravioli and shrimp. Finish by tearing the basil leaf over the garnish and quickly send up!

At this point, the soup should be ready to be poured from the teapot as the soup bowls hit the table.The consommé is then poured from the teapot in front of the guests.

Tim MacDonald ( has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments on this recipe are welcome below.