Rank #1: Eve Yeung - Noma
The first restaurant Eve Yeung ever worked at was Noma - yes, the Copenhagen establishment named the World's Best Restaurant four times. So how did she end up in René Redzepi's renowned kitchen at the age of 18?
The young pastry chef actually considered becoming a competitive hockey player (a path she pursued while working at Noma) and before she was preparing desserts in the high-profile restaurant, she worked at Long Island's best bakery – making extravagant cakes to celebrate people's milestones: one staggering creation, to commemorate someone's law degree, featured a legal book of torts and judge's gavel; she's also produced cakes featuring a shark jumping out of the water as well as an '80s tribute that showed a Rubik's cube on top of a 3D Pacman game.
And yes, she's even fielded weird requests for wedding cakes (luckily, her family-friendly bakery had a policy about not making "crazy nudity cakes"), so she didn't have to bake anything that was too out there.
It was a contrast to her time at Noma, where she would go foraging for ants in the Danish landscape or end up painstakingly cleaning reindeer moss for the restaurant's menu. She also got to push her desserts in imaginative directions (listen to the description of the dazzling ice cream sandwich she presented to Noma staff) and got to travel to Sydney for the Noma Australia pop-up. She also end up with many standout experiences while working at Noma Mexico, too, (from learning to cook regional specialties with locals to the time she was stuck in a cool room with a torchlight on her head to finish a granita dish for the menu).
Eve has some pretty exciting news she'll announce later this year – keep updated via her Instagram account. In the meantime, enjoy hearing about her experiences working in memorable kitchens across the world.
Apr 06 2018
Rank #2: Samin Nosrat - Author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Samin Nosrat has written one of the most-talked-about and celebrated cookbooks of the last year, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Her trophy shelf includes a James Beard Award for General Cooking and the Julia Child First Book Award. It's an amazing effort for an "uncookbook" that she's spent 15 years working on.
While in college, she saved for seven months to eat at Chez Panisse, the Californian farm-to-table restaurant run by Alice Waters – this life-changing meal convinced Nosrat that she needed to work there. And although she started with entry-level duties, such as cleaning the restaurant, she was very excited just to be on staff: “I can’t believe they’re letting me vacuum the floors at Chez Panisse!”
Nosrat has brilliant stories about cooking at the restaurant (the numbers on the dials had worn off the ovens, so you had to wave your arms in front of them to work out the temperature), as well as visiting the oldest pickle shop in China and meeting an eighth-generation butcher in Chianti, Italy. She's also taught Michael Pollan how to cook (and dumpster-dived baguettes with him) and writes The New York Times "Eat" column, where Nosrat has confessed to being a bread hoarder and shared a recipe for a breakfast soufflé (aka soufflazy).
Nosrat is delightful to talk to and it's worth listening just to hear her description of the feasts you enjoy at Iranian New Year and the green unripe plums that her mum snacked on while they were growing up.
Jun 03 2018
Rank #3: Ambrose Chiang - Momofuku Seiobo
Ambrose Chiang's love of food started early on – at the age of six, he was already handling big knives and other serious kitchen hardware in his family's kitchen in Hong Kong. Later, he moved to Australia, and after battling early alarm-clock starts and hill sprints, he moved on from the world of football to the world of hospitality – which proved just as gruelling as any contact sport, particularly when working at Cafe Sydney, where you could be juggling 600 covers a day.
In this podcast, he also talks about returning to Hong Kong, where he landed a job at Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental – and being a witness to the city's unique dining culture; Hong Kong had a colourful food culture, but eating out might not necessarily be about enjoying yourself, as it turned out, and diners sometimes had surprising habits.
At age 22, he's landed some notable achievements, such as being the youngest state finalist in the Electrolux Young Waiter of the Year competition (he talks about what it's like to serve Nick Hildebrandt and other industry heavyweights for the contest) and he currently works at Momofuku Seiobo, one of the best restaurants in Australia, and in Ambrose's opinion, also home to the best ramen in Sydney (sorry guys, it's also available as a staff meal, but you can enjoy vicarious servings of it via Ambrose's Instagram).
Aug 24 2014
Rank #4: Hugh Allen – Vue de Monde, Noma
You don't need a roof or floor to run a great restaurant – that's what Hugh Allen learnt while working at Noma's Mexico pop-up.
And yes, there were issues. "If it rained, the guests had to come sit in the kitchen," he says. Simple things, like boiling water, became a mission that could take hours. And yet, this ended up being one of the best working experiences of his life.
The chef's three years with Noma also spanned its Sydney residency and its recent relocation in Copenhagen. I met Hugh last year, after saving up to eat at Noma, and I witnessed him parading the famous celeriac shawarma. It turns out there's a secret back-story to this Instagram-winning dish (#shawarmagate) and we find out about the status of the "show shawarma".
After his time at Noma, he's returned to Australia to become Vue de Monde's current executive chef. For the menu, he's experimented with wattleseed Tim Tams, billy-tea traditions and classic memories of the Aussie milk bar. He's not allowed, though, to mess with the soufflé – it's been a Vue de Monde staple for 19 years. (He does sing to it, though.)
Hugh has come a long way since working at Rockpool Bar & Grill at age 15 (and later winning the Gault Millau's Potentialist of the Year award, which led to him spending quality time in France's Champagne region).
We also talk about his highlights from working at Noma and Vue de Monde and he also shares his favourite places to eat in Copenhagen and Melbourne.
Jun 18 2019
Rank #5: Jowett Yu – Ho Lee Fook, Mr Wong, Ms.G's, Canton Disco
Jowett Yu was working at Tetsuya's – then in the Top 5 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – but couldn’t even afford a bed. It was a wild time (just listen to the memorable "pep talk" that head chef Martin Benn gave when the restaurant reached #4 on the list) and the kitchen was full of upcoming stars: Daniel Puskas (Sixpenny), Clayton Wells (Automata), Phil Wood (Laura), Luke Powell (LP's Quality Meats) and Dan Hong – who Jowett bonded with, because they basically had the same haircut and similar cultural backgrounds.
Together, Dan and Jowett would go on to open Lotus, Ms.G's and Mr Wong together. At Lotus, there was the momentous night they launched David Chang's Momofuku book (and cooked for both Chang and Alex Atala), Ms.G's involved a memorable American research trip (where Jowett ate something that resulted in the "best 30 seconds of my life") and Mr Wong, which was an "intense" experience where he'd finish work at 3am and clock in again at 9am.
Jowett then opened Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong (an experience that earnt him a "lecture" from his mum and a major grilling when he put her dumplings on the menu – but even she ended up a fan of the restaurant). Here, the chef has experimented with fascinating vegetarian dishes, like typhoon shelter corn and celeriac char siu. More recently, he's launched Canton Disco in Shanghai.
Jowett also talks about growing up in Taiwan (and his visits to his totally boss grandmother's farm: she could look at an egg and tell when it would hatch – and be totally right) and his love of Hong Kong's Belon (he compares chef Daniel Calvert's cooking to the rise of Beatlemania).
When you consider that Jowett ended up in the kitchen as a 14-year-old because he essentially didn’t want to be a dishwasher (and he made the smart move avoiding a career in journalism, too!), there's no doubt that he's had a fascinating career.
Nov 19 2018
Rank #6: Andy Bowdy (Andrew Bowden) - Hartsyard
Andrew Bowden is the "lord pastry master of Hartsyard". You may know him as Andy Bowdy if you follow him on social media, where you can see the next-level desserts he makes for the hatted Newtown restaurant. This includes his ever-changing soft serves and pies – which incorporate everything from deep-fried cheesecake, wasabi peas, toasted bourbon marshmallow and duck fat choc chips – and his spectacular bespoke cakes (one particular creation was bartered for 18 cheeseburgers from Mary's). One of these concoctions still takes the title for the best cake I've ever eaten.
He didn't start off wanting to be a chef, but he managed to get there through some unlikely steps. Despite some unfortunate incidents with knives and unco-operative lettuce, Andy has had some great adventures in the kitchen (including a memorable dance session that led to emergency vehicles turning up at the restaurant where he happened to be busting his moves). Andy also talks about how he ended up at Hartsyard with head chef Gregory Llewellyn, his inventive dessert experiments, his mentors and his favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.
Jul 02 2014
Rank #7: Hanz Gueco - Cafe Paci
Hanz Gueco has discovered some pretty surprising things as a chef. Orange juice can be the best part of a $300 meal. You can get sent home for the most unusual reason when working at an establishment in Japan. And there's a sneaky way to get around America's legal drinking age of 21 that does not involve a false ID.
In this podcast, Hanz also describes what it's like to be the sous chef at one of Sydney's most inventive restaurants – Cafe Paci – which is run by acclaimed chef Pasi Petanen (who, besides being widely respected in the industry, is also known for his Finnish roots and menu fondness for rye).
Hanz also chats about how he got to this point in his career, after notching up cameos at impressive institutions locally (Rockpool, Marque, Est) and overseas (Manresa, Ryugin), and as a bonus, he covers how to "win" at Instagram.
He is also a contestant in the Electrolux Young Chef of the Year program and discusses what it's like to be a part of the competition and how he feels about being judged by such heavyweights, like David Thompson of Nahm. After Hanz talked to me for the podcast, he was named as a finalist in Electrolux's Young Chef of the Year competition. The winner is announced in mid-August. Good luck, Hanz!
Jul 21 2014
Rank #8: Kate Reid – Lune Croissanterie
Would you line up at two AM in zero-degree weather, just for a croissant? People would regularly do that all the time, purely for the chance to try Kate Reid's pastries. The New York Times, after all, said her croissants are "the finest you will find anywhere in the world, and alone worth a trip across the dateline". Other fans include René Redzepi, Nigella Lawson and Helen Goh.
Originally, Kate spent over a decade pursuing her dream job of being an aerospace engineer for Formula One car racing. She was the only woman in her role (and in fact, there wasn't even a female toilet where she worked). But when her career aspirations crumbled, and her life in London proved hugely isolating, Kate took solace in obsessive weight loss. Her eating disorder left her dangerously ill – she was six weeks away from dying – but her recovery was a key part of her starting Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne. It was inspired by a pivotal (and entirely impromptu) visit she made to Du Pain et des Idées in Paris. After a stint at the boulangerie, Kate started selling her own croissants from a tiny space in Elwood. The blockbuster reaction was incredible (people would arrive hours before opening, with movies on their iPad to pass the time), and has since led to Lune Croissanterie opening in Fitzroy and the CBD. Even the French newspaper Le Monde has given Kate's croissants an endorsement. But she is as upfront about the lows of her career as well as the big-time highlights. I really loved talking to Kate: she's so engaging, friendly and very honest. Catch Kate being interviewed by The New York Times food editor Sam Sifton, about The Power of Obsession for Melbourne Food and Wine Festival on March 9.
Mar 07 2019
Rank #9: Shannon Martinez, Mo Wyse, El Rosa – Smith & Deli, Smith & Daughters
People actively smuggle Smith & Deli's food onto planes – that's how addictive the dishes are. Interstate regulars even bring their own Tupperware containers and cooler bags, so they can enjoy the food at home. That's the power of what Shannon Martinez, Mo Wyse and El Rosa are doing at the popular Melbourne vegan deli – which is the subject of their new book, Smith & Deli-cious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to be Vegan).
They've reconnected people to dishes they thought they never could eat again, with clever and convincing replicas of meaty and dairy-heavy recipes. Shannon's plant-based take on smoked salmon made Mo cry, in fact, while El's inspired a hugely emotional response to her vegan pastries, too.
We chat about the romantic-comedy-like origins of Mo and Shannon's first meeting, what led to them opening their first vegan business (Smith & Daughters, which also attracts long queues and dedicated fans), Shannon's surprising appearance at a cheese festival ("I was definitely the token weirdo there") and her successful experiments with vegan Roquefort, the legal action that followed her popular vegan tribute to Sizzler and why it's important to make vegan food legitimately stinky.
Dec 15 2018
Rank #10: Daniel Puskas – Sixpenny
Daniel Puskas started his career slicing tomatoes, but eventually ended up in the kitchen of Alinea, the acclaimed Chicago restaurant known for turning mozzarella curds into balloons filled with tomato foam. His experience there was part of his Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year prize.
It's one of many honours he's earned throughout his career: he was also named the Citi Chef of the Year in 2018’s Good Food Guide, and Sixpenny is one of only three Sydney restaurants that's achieved three chef hats in the latest guide. You currently have to book two months ahead to get a table at Sixpenny. And it's worth the wait (Bar Ume's Kerby Craig cried when he last ate there).
Dan worked at some all-star kitchens early in his career (at Tetsuya's, alongside Shannon Debreceny, Darren Robertson and Phil Wood; at Marque with Mark Best, Pasi Petanen, Karl Firla and Daniel Pepperell), before becoming head chef of Oscillate Wildly at age 23: he'd arrive to work on his skateboard and play Mario Kart with chef Mike Eggert before service started.
At Oscillate Wildly, he met James Parry (another Young Chef of the Year winner), and they took Bob, their sourdough starter from the restaurant, and opened Sixpenny together in 2012. The menu is truly inspired, even down to its bread (including the ‘recycled’ loaf transformed with spent coffee grounds and golden syrup), and features fascinating ingredients (from emu eggs to anise hyssop). Sixpenny’s current sommelier Bridget Raffal is aiming for gender equality on her wine list. Dan is really open about the restaurant’s ups and downs (from the time he sat on a champagne glass, because he was shocked Sixpenny hadn’t scored two hats – to its recent ascension to three-hat status). He also shares some very funny stories from the many acclaimed restaurants he's worked in – he was truly great to talk to.
Mar 04 2019
Rank #11: Caitlyn Rees – Cirrus, Fred's, Momofuku Seiobo
How to make cider from 300-year-old pear trees, what it's like to work alongside Dan Barber at one of the world's best restaurants and how it feels scoring Gourmet Traveller's Sommelier of the Year award – Caitlyn Rees can give you a first-hand account of all of these standout experiences. When she was at Fred's in Sydney (where she served fascinating wines from the Adelaide Hills to Armenia), she was singled out by Gourmet Traveller as Australia's best sommelier in the magazine's 2018 restaurant guide. And because she won Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship, she ended up doing time at three places on her worldwide wish list: Relae in Copenhagen (a Michelin-starred restaurant that upended her expectations about how chefs and wait staff should work together), Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York (her behind-the-scenes stories about this acclaimed restaurant are truly amazing) and helping Eric Bordelet in Normandy, the ex-Arpège sommelier who collects fruit from centuries-old trees to make his famously great cider.
She also talks about the "rough red" that her grandfather made (and how it was her first encounter with booze), her time at Momofuku Seiobo (another wish-list job of hers), why she left Fred's (even though she loved working there) and what she's currently doing at Cirrus. Plus, a tragic story about suitcase wines and we hear her list of favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney (including the restaurant where she's spent practically all of her birthdays).
Feb 15 2019
Rank #12: Su Wong Ruiz – Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Seiobo
“It was probably the singular worst experience of my life, because Noodle Bar will kick your ass.” Sure, Su Wong Ruiz's first go at working for David Chang's Momofuku restaurant empire wasn't exactly a success. (“My ass was completely flattened by that experience,” she says.) But over time, she became part of the acclaimed, three-hat-earning launch team for his Momofuku Seiobo restaurant in Sydney (Chang claimed this was his first venue "where the front of house is equal to, if not better than, the kitchen team"). Then Su went on to work for Momofuku's Ma Peche (where she met future Seiobo chef, Paul Carmichael) and Momofuku Ko, which has been called Chang's most ambitious restaurant.
“Dave is a very particular type of coach and tormentor – he’s really good at it,” jokes Su. So it was fascinating to hear her talk about the unexpected challenges and standards set by the influential chef, as well as her strong working relationships with Ben Greeno (Seiobo's first head chef) and Sean Gray, who rules the kitchen at Momofuku Ko. I also enjoyed hearing how ultra-creative Sean's dishes are – like the cold fried chicken, for instance, and how things went down at their recent collaboration at Melbourne's Marion bar. Plus, Su's insights on delivering good restaurant service – and dealing with trolls – are really fascinating. It's especially interesting because her career started on the other side of the pass: when she "conned" her way into a job as a cook while visiting New Mexico.
She also shares her favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney and New York.
Oct 12 2018
Rank #13: Mark Best – The Final Table, Bistro by Mark Best, Marque
Imagine being a 16-year-old working in a Western Australian gold mine. This was Mark Best's life, straight after high school. It was a tough way to earn money as an electrician, so he eventually left. “I arrived in Sydney and found myself unqualified for above-ground work.”
He ended up even deeper underground, claustrophobic and covered in fibreglass and varnish, trying to install battery packs on submarines at Cockatoo Island. “I literally will die if I don’t do something with my life,” he told himself.
So he decided to cook professionally.
Not long after this career path detour, he won the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year award. In 1999, he opened Marque, where he maintained three chef’s hats for 10 consecutive years and was honoured with a Breakthrough Award by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. By the time of Marque's final dinner in 2016, many impressive people had worked in Mark's kitchen: Isaac McHale (now running The Clove Club in London) and Mette Søberg (current research chef at Copenhagen's Noma) spent formative periods there. Of the talented locals (Victor Liong, Daniel Pepperell, Brent Savage, Adam Wolfers, Pasi Petanen, Hanz Gueco, to name a few), three would win the Young Chef of the Year award: Dan Hong, Daniel Puskas and Lauren Eldridge.
We talk about "The Pesto Years" of the 1990s, how travelling throughout France inspired Marque's beginning, the history of his calamari risotto dish, trying times in the kitchen ("I may have held a sausage to someone’s head"), the memorable last dinner at Marque and why he chose to close the restaurant.
We also cover: his current role as a World Restaurant Awards judge, what it's like developing menus for cruiseships (which he does for his Bistro by Mark Best business) and his appearance on The Final Table, Netflix's cooking contest. After getting hate mail from doctors while on Masterchef, he decided to take a different onscreen approach on The Final Table (SPOILER WARNING: we talk about that show's ending, from 53:15 to 58:12 on the podcast). It was also surreal to discover his fellow competitors owned his cookbooks. (Turns out he's quite qualified for above-ground work after all.)
May 25 2019
Rank #14: Joe Beddia – Pizzeria Beddia
Joe Beddia makes "America's best pizza", according to Bon Appétit magazine. The chef/owner of Philadelphia’s Pizzeria Beddia has also been referred to as Pizza Jesus and the Jiro of Pizza. He shrugs off what he does as "just pizza", but people would line up many hours (sometimes even arriving before Joe got to work!) just to try his pies. He only made 40 pizzas a night – and he produced each one from scratch over the restaurant's five-year run.
Joe is currently on a world tour that he hopes doesn’t make people hate him – he's been to France, Italy, eaten at Noma, and he's currently in Sydney to do a week-long pop-up at Bondi Beach Public Bar. So locals can find out whether his work can be downgraded to "just pizza". Given that sommelier James Hird (who helped tee up the pop-up) describes eating at Pizzeria Beddia as one of his favourite ever food memories, you won't want to miss Joe's Australian-inspired versions of his pies while he's here.
Joe also talks about life-changing pizza experiences in Tokyo, how he ended up spending his 40th birthday with comedian Eric Wareheim and how he essentially produced his Pizza Camp cookbook using his home oven. Oh and he also memorably recaps the time he attempted a stunt with a blindfold, razor, shaving cream and no pants in the hopes of winning a trip to the Playboy Mansion and $10,000.
You can check out Joe's Sydney pop-up (from July 22 to July 28, 6pm until late at the Bondi Beach Public Bar) before he opens Pizzeria Beddia 2.0 in Philadelphia at the end of the year.
Jul 20 2018
Rank #15: Tim Watkins – Black Market Sake, Automata
Tim Watkins' parents needed a cooking course to learn how to use a microwave (which led to one Christmas turkey disaster) and he didn't eat broccoli or cauliflower until he was an adult.
So life in the restaurant world might not have been the most obvious career path. After a few detours (including a stint as a shoe salesman), he ended up serving diners at acclaimed restaurants such as Pilu at Freshwater. He got a reputation for singing "Happy Birthday" in Italian to guests and he would go on to win Sommelier of the Year in the Good Food Guide for his work at Automata.
We recorded this interview just before he started his new role at Black Market Sake (although we did use this as a good excuse to talk about breweries in Japan) and we also chat about the time he impersonated a Canadian Olympic athlete, went on a TV game show and witnessed quite a few forgeries. Oh and of course, we had to talk about that anti-organic-wines hashtag and his impressive collection of shorts.
Apr 18 2019
Rank #16: Adam Wolfers – Etelek
"You can't f--k with the matzo ball soup." That's what Adam Wolfers learnt from his grandmother. Etelek, his pop-up restaurant, is inspired by the chef's Eastern European background. It's a history that draws on memories of his grandmother tending to six pots on the stove at a time, as well as his grandfather Julius' time as a concentration camp survivor (an extraordinary tale that's been documented by Steven Spielberg).
Carrot schnitzel, scallop pretzel puffs and honey cake with wattleseed honeycomb are just a few of things you’ll find at Etelek, which is running at Potts Point until New Year's Eve. It's named after the Hungarian word for food and the pop-up has previously travelled to Melbourne and Canberra, and featured locally at Ester, Casoni and The Dolphin, gaining a following for its parsnip schnitzel and amazing langos bread. Even the most anti-carb person will be converted by Adam’s dishes, which has basically served as an atlas of bread from Yemen, Hungary, New York over the years. In fact, he uses a sourdough starter from his time at Monopole and made his name working in other Brent Savage restaurants, such as Bentley and Yellow (Adam helped turn Yellow into a vegetarian hatted restaurant, known for its eggplant steak and pickled kohlrabi and enoki).
Adam also talks about his previous life as a jetsetting European handball player (in fact, he had to get his hip replaced after a career-ending injury) and, given the brilliant "everything bagel" that was on his menu, he weighs in on the neverending New York vs Montreal bagel debate, too.
Plus, we chat about coming up through the ranks while mentored by Peter Doyle, Mark Best, Pasi Petanen and Brent Savage; his history with Bar Rochford's Louis Couttoupes, and whether Adam's langos bread is like Hungarian pizza.
Make sure to check out Etelek before it winds up its Potts Point pop-up on New Year's Eve and keep an eye out on Instagram to see what Adam and Marc Dempsey have planned for Etelek in 2019.
Dec 24 2018
Rank #17: Kylie Javier Ashton – Momofuku Seiobo
Kylie Javier Ashton has dealt with forged bookings and martini glass accidents; she's disguised Alex Atala with garbage bags, and endured countless people throwing up when she's been on the job (“you could see the frequency of the voms go up when the scampi dish was on” is one of the most memorable lines from this interview). Having survived all that, it's clear that she still loves her work and wants people to join the industry (as her involvement in Women In Hospitality, Appetite For Excellence and Grow shows).
Kylie Javier Ashton got her start at Tetsuya’s, when it was ranked in the Top 5 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. She's since become the award-winning restaurant manager at Momofuku Seiobo, which has been twice-named the best restaurant in Australia by Gourmet Traveller. Not a bad place for her to be, considering she didn't "even know how to carry plates" when she entered the industry.
Kylie has many amazing stories to tell, and covers it all, from what it's like to actually work with David Chang, the background to Paul Carmichael's food at Seiobo and why she asks her staff to give presentations on Caribbean culture, and the reality of your restaurant being in two pieces in The New York Times: one by Pete Wells, the other by Besha Rodell.
Plus: that memorable period running Duke Bistro with Mitch Orr, Thomas Lim and Mike Eggert (which followed her spell at Bentley Restaurant & Bar with Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt – the "hardest" place she worked). And let's not forget the time she also boxed in Cuba.
I LOVED talking to Kylie for this interview and she drops some of the best lines I've heard (it's worth listening to this episode so you can discover why “I’ve just been out on Oxford Street with an eyepatch” and “I didn’t realise I was Wolverine for so long" are two of the greatest things anyone has ever said on this podcast)!
Sep 09 2018
Rank #18: Christine Manfield – Tasting India, Universal
$10,099 – that's how much someone is asking for their copy of Christine Manfield's Tasting India cookbook on Amazon. Sure, India Today called it the book to give native newlywed couples once they head overseas, so it's a prized publication – but luckily, the new updated version of the award-winning book is much more budget-friendly (and includes new chapters on Hyderabad, Punjab and Gujarat, too).
While Christine Manfield is known as the acclaimed chef behind restaurants such as Paramount, East@West and Universal, we spend a lot of this podcast talking about her travels to India – a country that she's constantly visited for more than two decades. She has vivid stories of spice markets (and mountains that are literally fragrant with cardamom being grown) and the home cooks she's met, whose dishes she documents in her cookbook. Plus, we cover the regional (and religious) differences that shape the food on the plate. And what you have for an Indian breakfast (it is way better than toast and cereal). It was also great to talk to Christine about gender representation in the industry (particularly after she was a judge in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition last year and was quoted in the Herald as saying: "Where the f--- are the women?"). And I loved hearing about how Christine is still recognised on the streets of India because her Gaytime Goes Nuts dessert appeared in the finale of Masterchef Australia in 2012. (The dish is not only delicious, it's also a statement in support of the gay community, too.)
You have a rare chance to eat Christine’s food again because she’s running Tasting India dinners across Australia in November, at much-loved restaurants such as The Agrarian Kitchen outside Hobart, Anchovy in Melbourne and Lankan Filling Station in Sydney. For details, visit Christine Manfield's website.
Nov 02 2018
Rank #19: Sunny and Ross Lusted – The Bridge Room
They’ve worked in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Croatia, Greece, Bali and the Carribean. At one point, Ross had a job in Singapore while Sunny was in Chicago – and somehow, they ended up commuting and making it work. The couple were drawn back to Australia, though, because Ross had his eye on a restaurant location in Sydney: it had been his dream venue for 10 years. And once the site became available, the pair turned it into The Bridge Room (despite a floor that literally exploded and some awkward $50,000 phone calls to ensure the interiors met heritage restrictions).
Previously, Ross worked for Neil Perry – and, after an injury that kept Ross out of the kitchen, the chef ended up overseeing Neil Perry's airplane meal range for Qantas; he even got to test the food in an airplane simulator. Ross and Sunny have many great tales about their travels abroad: from changing people's lives with Thai food in Croatia, visiting Noma in its early days and discovering surprising uses for popcorn in Bhutan. They also reveal the back story to launching The Bridge Room, which is currently one of the country's most well-regarded restaurants.
Oct 02 2018
Rank #20: Bo Bech – Geist
"The most interesting place in Europe to eat” – that's how Noma's René Redzepi described Bo Bech's first restaurant, Paustian. The Copenhagen venue was located in the last building Jørn Utzon ever designed – and the Sydney Opera House architect was one of Bech's regular diners. (You need to hear the story behind the dish that Bech created for Utzon, which the chef talks about near the end of the podcast.)
"When I stepped into the kitchen at the age of 24, my world flipped." Bech became a chef at a relatively late age – enduring terrible food during a peacekeeping mission inspired him to improve on what was available. To convince a bank manager to loan him the money to launch Paustian, he had to revert to some pretty unusual means (it did involve food, though). Paustian is the focus of Bech's first self-published book, What Does Memory Taste Like (which features a signature avocado dish that gets 80-something pages of coverage). His second restaurant, Geist, is more accessible in style – the type of place that Bech would want to be a frequent customer. It's covered in In My Blood, his new book, which is like an autobiography of the restaurant. It features architect's drawings and furniture sketches among the 100 recipes. It also covers rage and other inspirations behind his food (like his lifelong battles against endives and salmon).
We also chat about his recent dinner collaboration with Lennox Hastie and his favourite places to eat in Copenhagen.
You can find In My Blood at chefbobech.com.
Oct 20 2018