Writer

I’m a journalist, restaurant critic, cookbook author, travel writer and screenwriter. I love telling stories!

My professional writing career started with travel publisher Lonely Planet. I was what they called a ‘parachutist’, which meant I’d go anywhere. That’s how I ended up writing about Bulgaria, Bonaire, Corsica, New York and Hong Kong.

One day my Lonely Planet boss said, “We need someone to go to Turkey to eat.” “That sounds like me,” I said. World Food Turkey was the result, a social, cultural and culinary investigation of Turkey which really turned me on to the rich possibilities of telling stories through food. Food is culture, history, family, life!

I’ve continued to thread food and travel through a writing career that’s included interviews with actors, politicians and even an astronaut. These days, I’m focusing on chefs, restaurants and cooking. My passion is connecting home cooks and eaters with great dishes and cuisines: if it’s tasty, I want to know about it, and I want you to know too.

Chris Lucas: the Melbourne foodie king bringing (more) Asian glam to Sydney

Chris Lucas, the entrepreneur behind some of Melbourne’s hottest laneway restaurants is moving to Sydney and luring one of the harbour city’s best chef south. Will his sizzle translate, or will he have egg on his face?

Meet Helen Goh, the Melbourne woman Ottolenghi is sweet on

It was Ottolenghi’s first yo-yo that did it. Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi had never encountered the classic Australian biscuit, a double-layered melting moment with buttercream filling. One fateful day in 2006, recently arrived Melbourne recruit Helen Goh gently lamented that there were no biscuits among the patisserie cakes at Ottolenghi’s Islington cafe. A yo-yo or an Anzac and a cup of tea was exactly what she hankered for after a hard, hand-blistering shift chopping butternut pumpkins.

Dani interviews Israeli chef Eyal Shani

I was so happy that my work as a food journalist meant I was sent to interview Israeli chef Eyal Shani. This story first appeared in Good Food, and was swiftly followed by a crazy day shooting videos with Eyal. If you’re a Dani Valent Cooking subscriber, you can watch our Hummus adventures here. Meantime, enjoy my story about the man behind Miznon.

Blue Cheese & Cherry Bao – Adeline Grattard

French chef Adeline Grattard’s Blue Cheese & Cherry Bao is one of those mind-bending dishes that has captured the minds of culinary fans around the world. I first heard about it in the Netflix Chef’s Table documentary, which devotes an episode to the sensitive, passionate French chef and her Paris restaurant Yam’tcha, run with her Chinese husband Chi Wah Chan. Yam’tcha plucks from the French and Chinese canons to create a truly individual cuisine: fusion food is tricky to get right but it’s expressed so beautifully by Grattard and particularly in these buns. I was fortunate to visit Yam’tcha on a recent trip to Paris and you can see below how delighted I was to eat this concoction in situ.

Truffle Tales and Ravishing Recipes

It was 2010. I was in the Otways, a couple of hours west of Melbourne, writing a story about chef George Biron and his restaurant Sunnybrae (it’s now Brae, run by chef Dan Hunter). In walked truffle farmer Steve Earl with a gelati tin. We stood around the kitchen bench and he opened the tin. It was full of truffles. We were silent. We inhaled. The aroma was heady, earthy, somehow full of soil and sky at the same time. The knobbly truffles were plump and black, gently glistening, not pretty but somehow promising. I felt a wave wash over me: I was infused with excitement, fogged with the aroma, almost intoxicated. I had to grip the bench to stop from swooning. Truffles! They are incredible.

Burgers + Education = Fun

I recently collaborated with St Kilda Burger Bar to teach St Kilda Primary School’s Year 6 students how to write a restaurant review. I talked to the kids about how I approach reviewing, explaining the importance of accuracy and fairness, and how the writer is responsible to both readers and restaurant. “It’s okay not to like something, but you need to see beyond personal preference and give useful, usable information,” I said. I also stressed the importance of tailoring writing for particular audiences, and to ‘make their words work hard’ – this is something I often think about, especially when writing short. Can one word do two jobs?

Top US chef Grant Achatz shares tips for home cooks

I’m thrilled to share an interview with leading US chef Grant Achatz. His Chicago restaurant Alinea is at the forefront of modern cuisine, largely because Grant never stops asking ‘why?’ He’s the ultimate culinary provocateur, questioning every aspect of dining. Why do we need to eat from plates? Why can’t food float? Can I make a stew that’s ice cold and boiling at the same time? His endless questing has led to some of the most mind-bending meals ever served.

© Dani Valent 2017