Fascinating Folk | Page 5 of 6 | Dani Valent

Fascinating Folk

How good are people? I love interviewing people from all different walks of life and trying to understand what makes them tick. Here is where I’ve shared stories about actors, politicians, scientists, chef and even an astronaut. Most of these stories have been published in Fairfax newspapers, magazines and websites.

The Graham Hotel. I cook

The Graham Hotel owners Tony and Peter Giannakis and chef Perry Schagen work together to create a festive feast. Ruler of the rotisserie Peter Giannakis beckons his chef. “Come on, Perry, your knife skills are better than mine,” he says. Perry Schagen steps up to the lamb with an impressive blade, pierces the crisp, citrus-scented skin, and eases the meat from the bone onto a platter. He swoons.

Heston Blumenthal

All you really need to know about Heston Blumenthal is made abundantly clear in his toasted cheese sandwich. It’s not the edible ingredients – bread, cheese, ham – that perplex; it’s the presence of “new washing-up sponge (without scourer)” on the list of necessities. The questing Blumenthal mind decided the humble, well-loved toastie would be improved if the bread was cooked longer than the filling to create a crisp, golden shell and perfectly melted – not over-melted – insides.

Marco Pierre White

There really is something about Marco Pierre White. I’m in the plush lobby of Melbourne’s Park Hyatt, I’ve spent nearly three hours talking to the famous British chef and I’m simply not myself any more. I’ve entered a vortex, encircled by the 51-year-old’s charisma, trapped by his stories, his slow, quiet sentences, pregnant ellipses and rhetorical questions, which he goes on to answer in a weighty, meaningful way that reels me in tighter. “Honesty is paramount,” he says. “I bare myself.” I somehow doubt it, but I can feel myself nonetheless being charmed by the restaurateur and television star, who is spending three months in Melbourne to film MasterChef: The Professionals.

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