There is always so much to learn when it comes to food, so I was grateful for the opportunity to dive into Korean food at a cooking class and lecture in Melbourne last week. The guest of honour was Buddhist monk Seonjae, who is also a chef and the President of the Korean Food Promotion Institute.
Collaborating with Curtis Stone on a cooking class and degustation dinner at his restaurant Gwen in LA was always going to be fun...but when we decided to theme our event around unique Australian ingredients, things got even more interesting!
There's a contradiction at the heart of Bros', the two-year-old restaurant that Isabella Poti, 22, owns with her boyfriend Floriano Pellegrino, 28. On the one hand, its mission is to preserve the culinary traditions of Lecce, the restaurant's home in the southern Italian province of Puglia. But on the other hand, there's scarcely a dish served in the 25-seater that any Lecce local would recognise. "We keep our traditions, but we make them new," Poti says.
While we had a cake in the oven I grabbed the lovely Sophia from Thermomix Baking Blogger for a chat about sourdough, a topic that's close to both of our hearts, but can seem very spooky and mysterious if you've never encountered it before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many times I have dreamed my way to Paris and a long lunch at Alain Passard‘s Arpège. I’ve dreamt of my table in his elegant restaurant, and my time in a dining room that glows as the Parisian afternoon peeps through the windows, gleaming softer and softer as the hours pass.
February 2005 and Eva Orner was doing it tough. She’d endured a long New York winter marked by blizzards and heavy snows, new in town, out of work, low on friends and short on cash. But one of her few buddies, someone she’d met back home in Melbourne, invited her to an Oscars party at his apartment in Tribeca. There, with Ground Zero out the window and A-list glamour on the TV, a dozen thirtysomethings sat on the floor with Indian takeaway on their laps and watched Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank and Cate Blanchett scoop the pool. “We all had to put in $50 for an Oscars sweep,” says Orner. “I was like, ‘My God, 50 bucks!’ ” But she won, and walked out with $600 to put towards the rent of her studio apartment eight blocks away. “I was so happy,” she says. “It was really handy.”