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.
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.
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.
How does a Michelin-starred chef think about food? I had a long time to ponder this question over lunch at El Coq, the restaurant owned by the talented and dashing Michelin-starred chef Lorenzo Cogo. El Coq is in Vicenza, an hour or so from Venice, where I stayed for a week.
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.”
“Steak’s up guys,” says Curtis Stone, slicing into a hunk of beef, appraising it keenly, chewing on a morsel with faraway eyes, then passing slivers around for feedback. He’s not at Maude, his feted Beverly Hills restaurant. He’s not at home in the Hollywood Hills, feeding his actor wife Lindsay Price and sons Hudson and Emerson. He’s not even filming for a television show – All-Star Academy (like The Voice, but with cooking) and Kitchen Inferno (a game show, like a speedy MasterChef with more fire balls) are two US series he’s hosted recently.
Kitchen royalty doesn’t come more august and influential nor, as it turns out, more down to earth than River Cafe co-founder Ruth Rogers. Rogers and the late Rose Gray opened their produce-driven Italian restaurant in London, on the northern bank of the Thames, in 1987. The motivation, at least partly, was to feed Ruth’s ‘‘starchitect’’ husband Richard Rogers, whose offices are next door. But Rogers and Gray always cooked with rigour and a sense of abundance and the River Cafe was never just a staff canteen. Its alumni include April Bloomfield, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and, closer to home, Jesse Gerner, Tobie Puttock and many more. I nabbed ‘‘Ruthie’’ Rogers during the recent Melbourne Food and Wine Festival to ask her about her cooking musts and must-nots.