I am a contributor to Good Weekend magazine's beloved Two of Us column, in which two people talk about their relationship. In this case, it was Melbourne painter Vincent Fantauzzo (left), 41, and Sydney chef Matt Moran, 49. They met in a bar, hit it off instantly and now have a long-distance friendship based on honesty, vulnerability and a shared love of fast cars.
On the road with chefs and sommeliers from MoVida as they sourced produce for High Country Harvest. It's always such an enriching - and tasty - experience to visit food at the source
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?
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.
The diary-clogging confluence of the World’s 50 Best, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and Tasmania’s Great Chefs series left restaurant obsessives and chef-watchers buzzing, tired and grateful for elasticised waistbands.
It’s the most Australian food of them all, loved (and loathed) for its salty, yeasty kick and smeary tar qualities but, until now, Vegemite has been largely restricted to breakfast toast or cheesymite scrolls stuffed in lunchboxes.
Food identity and culinary starmaker Andrea Petrini (he’s Italian and molto persuasive) has organised The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle, an international chef swap among 40 of the world’s top restaurants. Each chef leaves their restaurant to head to one of the other 39 taking part. They don’t directly swap but are shuffled around the world. Diners buy tickets to a one-night-only dinner (last Thursday, November 10) but they don’t find out who’s cooking for them until they arrive. It’s strange and strangely wonderful. Each restaurant has an ambassador – I was ambassador for Attica, which basically means look after the chef and observe what happens. I must get back in touch with my careers counsellor and let him know.
One of my favourite jobs as a food writer is to interview chefs and find out what makes them tick. I wrote this story for the New Zealand Herald about star chef and Dani Valent Cooking guest Ben Shewry. Read all about him, then watch his Thermomix videos here (subscribers only).
“Jessi loves to feed people and he can do it anywhere,” says his wife Jennifer. He did it as a boy in his Punjab village, getting up at 4am to water the fields, milk the buffalo and make yoghurt lassi for breakfast before heading to school. He did it in Jennifer’s miniature apartment in San Francisco. “He invited people over, I told him it was impossible, but amazing food kept appearing from my tiny kitchen,” she says. Even today, he’s known for rummaging in friends’ fridges and creating feasts, turning his hosts into honoured guests in their own homes. He’s tapping into a Sikh sense of hospitality. “It’s a natural part of my culture,” he says. “Everyone must sit down and eat together and the guest is considered God.” It also, simply, makes him feel good. “After a long day in the kitchen, cooking is a therapy for me,” he says. “It gives me huge satisfaction to know I made my meal from scratch.”