The sound of bacon, sizzling away in a pan,
The look of potatoes in duck fat, browning up in an oven,
The smell of onions, sautéing on a Barbeque,
The feel of wrapping a spring roll in mint and lettuce,
The taste of a leg of lamb freshly cooked over a fire, on a spit.
Using all your senses to enjoy the above, Priceless!?
Food, what a wonderful thing!
The fastest way to bring a smile to another person’s face.
The easiest way to get invited into other people’s houses is to tell them you will cook at their place.
You can talk about it and it’s ok if people disagree, unlike religion and politics.
Everyone has a story they can relate to food.
It is an individual experience for each person.
Did I mention that I love food?
I have worked with it in some form or capacity for over 28 years now, and I still don’t know it all. I am continually seeing new pieces of equipment and cookware through visiting trade shows and networking in hospitality. I am ever amazed by the different vegetables, herbs, spices and condiments that living in a multi-cultural city can offer!
To give you a context, I really love a movie by the name of “Like Water for Chocolate”, a Spanish fairy tale about a woman who is actually born in a kitchen and when she cooks, whatever she is feeling, the people who eat her food will feel tenfold after eating. The same is true of cooking. You can have two chefs working with the same recipe, ingredients and equipment, but the end result is vastly different. You have to put your heart into it and feel the experience to truly get it.
We have a saying around here that “All of god’s creatures fit really well on the plate, next to the mashed potatoes” It doesn’t mean I haven’t got anything to offer the vegetarians, it’s just that when I cook vegetarian food, I need to put meat on top of it.
As you may be able to tell I am not very politically correct, you can leave that to the newspapers to try and get right! Anyone who may be offended, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I often get asked by people what tips can I give on cooking? Well, I think that there is only one real secret to cooking and that is…….. “You can always add, but you can never take away”
For example, you can always add more salt but it is very hard to take it away if you use too much.
I always tend to add most of my salt at the end of the cooking process because I was taught pepper won’t get stronger if added at the start of a casserole, but it will get saltier if you add the salt early.
I get given and acquire quite a lot of different condiments from different people I know in the hospitality industry. As a result I have a very well stocked pantry. Anyone out there know what to do with fennel pollen? Look it up! No chef I know could give me an answer about that one! I also have stuff like rose water syrup, pomegranate syrup, green peppercorn flavoured Tobasco sauce, dried Szechuan peppercorns, smoked paprika from Spain, Vanilla paste (makes a wicked mash), ABC Kejap Manis, rice wine vinegar and truffle-infused salt. Just some basics you should have to brighten up a potentially dull plate or dish.
We are very spoiled for choice here in Melbourne with the availability of cooking ingredients. I live smack bang in the middle of shops where I can purchase Asian, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, French, Arabic ingredients etc. It’s an absolute nirvana!
It also helps to grow some of the vegetables and herbs yourself. I had a wonderful chef early in my career who used to make me go down to Victoria Street in Richmond every day to the Asian grocery stores and buy three ingredients I had never used before. I then had to bring them back to work and incorporate them in a dish. My first hundred dishes weren’t that great but after a while I began to master the flavours and tastes that went together.
On top of all these great ingredient stores, I am situated in the middle of an absolute mecca of leading edge cafes, restaurants and eateries. Dishes like poached eggs on sourdough served with pomegranate syrup, sautéed spinach, yoghurt labneh and shaved parmesan and asparagus, awesome!!
Mexican restaurants with really cool back yard areas you can dine in on couches with PBS radio quietly playing in the background, secret super cool beer gardens, markets, Sunday morning food stands, food trucks etc. I am blessed!
The best dishes I reckon making are for example, a simple pasta or pizza, not a lot of different ingredients but good ones that have really great flavours. My favourite pasta is called Aglio e olio.
Bring olive oil to heat in a pan; add some crushed garlic, chilli and fry off the heat; throw in some chopped continental parsley and fry also off the heat; deglaze with a little white wine; add heated pre-blanched spaghetti; roquette, shaved parmesan, good olive oil, salt and pepper and toss and serve. Awesome stuff!! Add some grated lemon or lime rind at the end for a taste-tingling sensation.
Anyway, that is enough waffling on from me, catch ya soon, keep good!?