Blending is a byword for creamy smoothness in delicious dairy-based desserts, as this acclaimed chef attests.
Jacqui Challinor, the head chef of Nomad restaurant in Sydney’s Surry Hills, initially wanted to get into nutrition or food styling for magazine shoots. To that end she embarked on a TAFE catering course. “It was there that I realised I loved being in the kitchen instead!” The biggest obstacle to her change of career path was her own anxiety: “It’s very much a man’s world and I was hesitant about stepping into an apprenticeship,” she explains. “But a friend who’d got tired of hearing me complaining said, ‘Just go for it!’ and so I did.” Jacqui apprenticed under Christopher Whitehead at Mad Cow (“I can’t speak highly enough of him; really great guy and an excellent chef ”). An early role in a cafe, in which she was left largely to her own devices, was both a thrown-in-the-deepend environment and “a great learning experience; I had creative freedom and I learnt a great deal, including self-reliance”. But it is her Maltese mother whom she credits with educating her on the special role food plays in life and as more than just a source of nutrients: “I grew up with those European, Mediterranean ideals around eating, where food is the centre of a family occasion. It’s about friendship and family coming together as a form of nourishment.” It is this thought that stays front and centre for Jacqui’s sense of job satisfaction. “I love feeding people and making them happy,” she says. “I love cooking in a restaurant, knowing that it’s a place where people come together – to celebrate something, or just to spend time with each other – and I love the way the food I’m making is what brings them together.” In the recipe she has created for Pride & Produce, Jacqui uses olive oil sourced from Alto, a family-run operation that produces award-winning oil and table olives from its 20,000-tree farm in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales. Her star ingredient here is the cream – Countrystyle Cream from Delicious Dairies in the Kyvalley region of northern Victoria, to be precise. It’s made its way into both the ice-cream and the homemade butter used in the shortbread. “It’s very versatile,” Jacqui says, adding that the free-to-roam cows produce cream with “a higher butter fat than most creams in the market”.