Here's why eating a $28 lamington can be good for mental health

SuppliedBennelong at the Sydney Opera House.

It’s National Lamington Day today, July 21, (sorry we forgot to mention National Mac and Cheese Day last Saturday #ourbad) and the team at Sydney Bennelong Restaurant have decided to celebrate it in a very special way.

The cherry jam lamington, created by chef Peter Gilmore, who this week relaunched his other restaurant, Quay, for the Fink Group, is one of the signature dishes at Bennelong, and normally you’d have it as part of the two or three course $100-plus menu. But today, head chef Rob Cockerill is serving it as a standalone $28 dessert.

You may have seen Gilmore present the dish on MasterChef. It features cherry jam coconut cream ice-cream and sponge encased in glossy chocolate ganache, surrounded by shaved curls of liquid nitrogen coconut milk parfait.

It’s the Rolls Royce of lamingtons. And the money from every one sold today is going to the suicide prevention charity R U OK. Fink Group creative John Fink said the charity was important to everyone in the restaurant and company.

The gesture comes just days after the first anniversary of the death of one of the city’s most-loved chefs, Jeremy Strode, who championed R U OK.

“With the prevalence of mental health difficulties in the hospitality industry it is really important for us to play any part we can in not only raising funds but to also shed light on the struggles faced in the restaurant business, and more importantly the amazing support that R U OK provides,” Fink said.

“It is also a timely reminder to ask your loved ones, friends and colleagues how are they really doing. Just asking someone can make all the difference.”

The good news for this lamington fundraiser with a difference is you can have it throughout Bennelong for lunch or dinner today – including just heading to the bar and having it and nothing else if you want. You don’t even have to book.

It will also be available at the Cured and Cultured dining section, and of course on the regular menu, from noon for lunch and 5.30pm for dinner.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of how the lamington came about more than a century ago, the tale told is that a cook working for Lord Lamington, who in 1901, was just finished up his five year tenure as Queensland’s Governor back in 1901, when cook dropped the Guv’s favourite sponge in melted chocolate (the alternative version was that the cake was stale and this was good way to revive it).

The London-born Lord, a chap worried that Australian Federation was a path to socialism, suggested dipped the chocolate-soaked cake in coconut to stop your fingers getting covered in chocolate. Claims that he referred to result as “those bloody, poofy, woolly biscuits” suggests the jury is still out on how he felt about the creation, but it certainly needed a snappier name.

Bennelong restaurant is at Sydney Opera House. Phone 9240 8000 if you’re keen to make a booking.

SuppliedBennlong’s cherry jam lamington

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