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.
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.
Unfortunately, humans haven’t evolved with the ability to hibernate so we need to deal with winter. Luckily, Good Food has patented a 27-step process to make winter so cosy, delicious and rewarding that you may end up cursing the sweet, green shoots of spring.
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.
Life is busy and schedules are jammed. You’re tired and the kids seem genetically unable to tidy up (or is that just mine?). It’s all too easy to decide you can’t possibly have people over for a meal. But think a moment. Happy memories and strong relationships are forged when you gather with friends and loved ones and allow time to enjoy one another’s company. It’s important to carve out time for these occasions.
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.
It’s on. That party, the picnic, that “we have to catch up” get together. Yes, you’re looking forward to it – except for one thing. There’s that scary question you have to ask: “What can I bring?” There’s a danger that they won’t say, “Bring a few beers or some wine.” What if they say, “Oh, just a little plate of something”? You barely have time to get dressed let alone whip up a pavlova. But it doesn’t need to be a major stress. Bring-a-plate success is as easy as smart shopping and these summery no-cook solutions that will ensure you’re invited back.
I’ve had a long association with Gelato Messina, by which I mean that I have eaten a lot of their product. It’s research right? Last year, I was lucky enough to have my Chilli Cherry Ripe recipe used in a limited edition ice cream flavour at Messina stores. I really needed to do some serious ‘research’ when that launched and you’ll be happy to know that my extensive investigations revealed that they indeed did a great job of translating my chocolate slab into gelato.
I love cooking. I enjoy chopping vegetables into neat dice. I’m partial to meditative stirring with a favourite wooden spoon. I don’t even mind washing pots, so long as I have a sink full of nice, hot, soapy water. I’m definitely not a gadget person. And I really, really love my Thermomix.