Kitchen Notebook: Mel­bourne

An­nie Had­dad spoke to French-Aus­tralian chef, Se­bastien Bo­iron, about cook­ing up a storm at sea and why he’s left be­hind his life of ad­ven­ture for the safe har­bour of Mel­bourne.

Provincial Living - - Entertainment - By An­drew Prior

Rachel Khoo brings to Mel­bourne that same pas­sion for good food that she showed us when ex­plor­ing Paris in A Lit­tle Paris Kitchen.

Sit­ting in one of Mel­bourne’s finest five-star bou­tique-ho­tel lob­bies I’m ea­gerly await­ing an icon of mod­ern-day cui­sine. While I’m wait­ing, many peo­ple are com­ing and go­ing — an ac­tor from one of Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar TV dra­mas, a re­al­ity TV star from the UK with an en­tourage of five. Yet de­spite all of these en­trances, it’s the young lady in the beau­ti­ful blue dress with sil­ver polka-dots that grabs my at­ten­tion.

Rachel Khoo walks through the lobby with such grace that the room just seems to light up. The Lon­don-born TV host and au­thor is in Mel­bourne to shoot her new show, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Mel­bourne. This se­ries, a joint col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween BBC World­wide, Fre­man­tle Media Aus­tralia and SBS, is the fol­low-up to her ear­lier pop­u­lar se­ries, The Lit­tle Paris Kitchen, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Lon­don and Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Cos­mopoli­tan Cook.

Rachel was born in Croy­don, South Lon­don, to a Malaysian fa­ther and an Aus­trian mother and went to school at a con­vent in Ger­many. Con­se­quently, as a child, her diet was highly di­verse. “We would have beef ren­dang, stir fries, Asian chicken por­ridge and then there would be the odd schnitzel thrown in as well,” she says. “Then on Sun­days we would al­ways have a Sun­day roast; York­shire pud­ding and all. Leftover nights on Mon­days were like a United Na­tions of dif­fer­ent dishes.”

It’s not sur­pris­ing then that she is knowl­edge­able about food from all around the world, in­clud­ing the food scene in her new tem­po­rary home, Mel­bourne. “I feel so spoilt for choice here. I can lit­er­ally roll from one good place to another — which I’ve been do­ing,” she says. “What’s im­pres­sive about Mel­bourne is the di­ver­sity but also the qual­ity. Ev­ery­one in Mel­bourne is re­ally pas­sion­ate about what they do. They might be fill­ing a niche in the mar­ket but they do it re­ally well. For ex­am­ple, yesterday I vis­ited a place called Blue­bon­net,” she says, re­fer­ring to Blue­bon­net Bar­be­cue smoke­house in Colling­wood, Mel­bourne, that is tak­ing the art of smok­ing meats and food to new lev­els. “What I love about them is that they are so into their smok­ing and re­ally are mak­ing amaz­ing food.”

Mel­bourne’s pas­sion for good food is the rea­son she is film­ing a new show here. On this visit she has vis­ited a range of places, in­clud­ing the Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula, near Gee­long, where she in­dulged in her favourite food: cheese. “I had the most de­li­cious goat’s cheese,” she tells me, “But the best part was that I got to milk a goat that kept on kick­ing me. I milked enough to make half a cap­puc­cino. At least it will be good tele­vi­sion view­ing!”

With a back­ground in public re­la­tions in the fash­ion in­dus­try, Rachel stud­ied de­sign at Cen­tral Saint Martins Col­lege of Art and De­sign in Lon­don. But this just wasn’t her, she says. She had been as­sist­ing on food photo shoots ca­su­ally while at univer­sity, which got her in­ter­ested in food styling. “I spoke to some food stylists and they said that it helps to have some res­tau­rant or culi­nary school ex­pe­ri­ence for shoots.” As a re­sult, Rachel headed to France to do a three- month ba­sic patis­serie course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and af­ter­wards sought work there. “I couldn’t af­ford the full-year course, at some­thing like €18,000, and I didn’t speak a word of French so I went to La Sor­bonne (univer­sity) and took some French cour­ses.”

What re­ally ac­cel­er­ated her French skills, how­ever, was work­ing in a Parisian depart­ment store. “I was one of those per­fume girls,” she re­calls. “It was the worst job ever but fan­tas­tic for prac­tic­ing your French. You’d gos­sip with your col­leagues and then you’d chit-chat about who came in that day or who is dat­ing who.” A num­ber of other jobs fol­lowed, in­clud­ing a stint as an au pair, but she got what she calls her big break when she met Marc Grossman, a well-known food writer and cafe owner. She worked on a cook­ery book for him and this inspired her to do her own.

Rachel was still liv­ing in France at the time and writ­ing two cook­books in French is no mean feat, es­pe­cially with a lim­ited knowl­edge of the lan­guage. Her first book was Bar­res de Céréales: Muesli et Gra­nola Mai­son (home­made muesli and gra­nola) and her sec­ond book was Pâtes à Tartiner (home­made spreads). Both have since been trans­lated into English.

Af­ter these two books Rachel did some pop- up restau­rants in be­tween pri­vate-chef gigs and con­sul­tancy work, but she re­ally wanted to write a book for the English mar­ket. “So I went to my favourite pub­lish­ers in Lon­don say­ing ‘Hi my name’s Rachel and I’ve got this idea for a book — what do you think?’.” Some of them said no and some told her that if she didn’t have a tele­vi­sion show then a book just wouldn’t work. But it was Pen­guin cook­ery pub­lisher Lind­sey Evans that gave Rachel the break she was look­ing for with a book deal that would lead to The Lit­tle Paris Kitchen.

Peo­ple still ask Rachel if she still lives in Paris, even though the TV show based on this very suc­cess­ful book was filmed over three years ago. De­spite her Lon­don ori­gins, this pint-sized beauty has be­come known as “the French girl from the TV”. Her French cook­ery books and the TV show, along with the fol­low-up book My Lit­tle French Kitchen, have helped to change the per­cep­tions of French food around the world. Her par­ents might have thought she was mad to go off and bake cakes in Paris but Rachel has since helped rev­o­lu­tionise French cook­ing for the ev­ery­day home cook.

With so many fab­u­lous foodie things to do in Paris, a city I lived in a cou­ple of years ago, I ask Rachel what she loves to do there. “I al­ways say if you only have 24 hours in Paris then go to one of the mar­kets be­cause that’s what the lo­cals do,” she says. “This will en­able

“It was Pen­guin cook­ery pub­lisher Lind­sey Evans that gave Rachel the break she was look­ing for with a book deal that would lead to The Lit­tle Paris Kitchen.” “Paris is not all about Amélie; Paris is a very mul­ti­cul­tural city.”

you to ex­pe­ri­ence Paris as if you are Parisian. Go­ing to the mar­kets is in­ex­pen­sive and you can buy some char­cu­terie, cheese, maybe some fruit and veg­eta­bles, a baguette, a bot­tle of wine and then head off to the near­est park or canal and en­joy.”

Her favourite mar­ket in Paris is the Marché d’Ali­gre in the 12th ar­rondisse­ment be­cause it’s open from Tues­day to Sun­day and on week­ends there is an an­tiques mar­ket. It’s a mar­ket I re­mem­ber well and, as Rachel says, there is an ex­pen­sive part and a cheap part, un­cov­ered and cov­ered sec­tions and a lot of char­ac­ter. The mar­ket at­tracts peo­ple from a wide va­ri­ety of back­grounds. “There are a lot of North Africans there so you get a real vibe of what Paris is about to­day,” she adds. “Paris is not all about Amélie; Paris is a very mul­ti­cul­tural city.”

The di­ver­sity of the mar­kets in Paris is not un­like the di­ver­sity at the mar­kets in Mel­bourne. “Prahran Mar­ket is my favourite, although I have to ad­mit I have a prob­lem pro­nounc­ing it prop­erly.” (I as­sure her most non-Mel­bour­ni­ans and even some lo­cals have the same prob­lem.) “I met this fa­ther-and-son team who have a fan­tas­tic fruit and veg­etable shop at the mar­ket. The fa­ther showed me a box of figs that looked beau­ti­ful — he was so proud of them. Ap­par­ently they came from his neigh­bour’s yard and the neigh­bour had given them to him that morn­ing. You are so spoilt here in Mel­bourne.” Hav­ing re­cently vis­ited in Malaysia to pro­mote her new book and show and to film a doc­u­men­tary for BBC2, she stresses how lucky we are here in Aus­tralia to have all the flavours of Asia too.

I men­tion to her that Mel­bourne was named the world’s most live­able city — a ti­tle Rachel agrees is apt. “It’s so mul­ti­cul­tural. Peo­ple here are so friendly and so open to shar­ing their sto­ries; how they got to Mel­bourne, how pas­sion­ate they are about the place.

“I’m like a mag­pie, al­ways grasp­ing at dif­fer­ent things.”

Peo­ple have come to Mel­bourne with a dif­fer­ent idea of what they wanted to do with their lives and what they want to bring and give back to this great city. It’s just re­ally fan­tas­tic.” While Mel­bourne is not as old as most Euro­pean cities, this can be a plus, she says. “It’s fresh and the fact that there isn’t this in­grained history in Aus­tralia or in Mel­bourne makes peo­ple more open to ex­per­i­ment­ing with food, which is very re­fresh­ing for me.”

With her latest cook­book, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, she’s keen to show that, with a mul­ti­cul­tural back­ground, she’s able to cook more than just French food. “French food is still a part of who I am. I can take some of my patis­serie tech­niques and ap­ply them to some new recipes. This is the type of food that’s in the book and it’s go­ing to be in the new show. There will be a French touch here and there but I’m like a mag­pie, al­ways grasp­ing at dif­fer­ent things. This is what I find ex­cit­ing and as long as it tastes good I will al­ways mix it up a bit. You know, there are no rules to this.”

When it comes to spice rubs, I have some friends who guard their per­sonal recipe the same way Coca-Cola guard theirs. I, how­ever, am happy to share my spe­cial blend of spices. Mak­ing your own cus­tom spice rub is prob­a­bly the sim­plest way of adding your own per­sonal touch to dishes. This recipe is re­ally just a start­ing point and can be easily adapted to your taste. Once you get the hang of bal­anc­ing the flavours, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

Pre­heat the grill to high. Blend the in­gre­di­ents for the spice rub in a pes­tle and mor­tar.

Smear the spice rub gen­er­ously all over the out­side and in­side of the trout, then place on a foil-lined, lightly oiled bak­ing tray.

Thinly slice one of the le­mons. Stuff the fen­nel, pars­ley and le­mon slices in­side the cav­ity of the fish. Place the fish un­der the grill. Grill for 5–10 min­utes on one side, then turn the fish over and cook for a fur­ther 5 min­utes on the other. Mean­while, bring a pot of salted wa­ter to the boil and add the gi­ant cous­cous. Boil for 3 min­utes, then add the French green beans. Cook for a fur­ther 2 min­utes, or un­til al dente, and drain.

Zest and juice the re­main­ing ½ a le­mon. Toss the beans with the oil, le­mon zest and juice and a lit­tle salt. Serve each fish whole with the cous­cous on the side. Gar­nish with the leafy fen­nel tops.


This spice rub works well with all sorts of other things. Try spread­ing it on aubergine slices and driz­zling with a lit­tle oil be­fore grilling. It’s also a great rub for chicken.

Get ahead

Make the spice rub a few days be­fore and keep in a sealed jar. You can easily dou­ble the quan­tity and store it to sea­son other dishes.

Pre­heat the oven to 160°C (fan).

Empty the con­tents of the yo­ghurt pots into a bowl, then wash and dry them ready to mea­sure the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents. You’ll need one for wet in­gre­di­ents and one for dry in­gre­di­ents.

Whizz the pis­ta­chios to a fine pow­der in a blender.

Put the caster sugar and oil in a large bowl or stand­ing mixer bowl, then mix to­gether with an elec­tric hand whisk or the whisk at­tach­ment for 2 min­utes, un­til the sugar has dis­solved.

Grad­u­ally add the eggs and vanilla ex­tract.

Fold in the yo­ghurt, then add the flour, bak­ing pow­der, salt and ground pis­ta­chios and gen­tly fold them in. Spoon the bat­ter into the tin.

Bake for 50 min­utes or un­til a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 min­utes be­fore turn­ing out on to a wire rack to cool. When the cake is cool, place the pome­gran­ate skin side up in your hand with your fin­gers spread out.

Hold the pome­gran­ate just in­side a big bowl be­fore hit­ting the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds will fall through the gaps be­tween your fin­gers.

Sift the ic­ing sugar into a bowl, then add the yo­ghurt and mix well to get a thick pour­ing con­sis­tency.

Pour on top of the cooled cake, gen­tly guid­ing it down the sides. Once the ic­ing has stopped drip­ping, take the pome­gran­ate juice and dot sev­eral drops along the top of the cake.

Drag a skewer or tooth­pick in a fig­ure-of-eight pat­tern through the drips of pome­gran­ate, swirling it all around the cake.

Stick the pome­gran­ate seeds to the side of the cake when the ic­ing has stopped drip­ping. If it’s dif­fi­cult to make them stick, chill the cake for 10 min­utes in the fridge first.


We of­ten imag­ine a chef to be stuck in a res­tau­rant kitchen all week long. But Se­bastien Bo­iron is no or­di­nary chef. Pas­sion­ate about food since his child­hood in Saint- Eti­enne and Va­lence, Se­bastien en­tered the pro­fes­sion at the ten­der age of 14. Hav­ing com­pleted his train­ing, he started out as a Maître d’hô­tel at the Sof­i­tel des Champs-Elysées and worked in five star ho­tels all over France, from Paris to the Riviera to Monaco. But the rest of the world was call­ing…

Af­ter a stint at Paul Bo­cuse, Gas­ton Lenôtre and Roger Verger’s fa­mous res­tau­rant in Florida, Se­bastien’s itchy feet took him to sea. Over the next six years, he trav­elled the world as head chef on var­i­ous lux­ury yachts. When his feet did touch dry land, Se­bastien would find him­self any­where from Egypt to Malaysia to Alaska.

So why did this ad­ven­tur­ous French­man fi­nally de­cide to set­tle down?

“[Work­ing on pri­vate yachts] may seem like a dream life: it’s well paid, you get to travel the world and it re­quires, of course, an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit. You also have the chance to work in mag­nif­i­cently


On imag­ine sou­vent qu’être Chef, c’est tra­vailler en cui­sine, dans un res­tau­rant, toute sa vie. Mais il sem­blerait que ce soit tout le con­traire dans le cas de Sébastien Bo­iron. Pas­sionné par la res­tau­ra­tion dès le col­lège, il s’est lancé dès l’âge de qu­a­torze ans dans la pro­fes­sion et a suivi le chemin de l’Ecole hôtelière de Tain L’Er­mitage puis de Nice. Orig­i­naire de Saint-Eti­enne mais ayant grandi à Va­lence, il com­mence d’abord par être Maître d’hô­tel- une de ses spé­cial­i­sa­tions -au Sof­i­tel des Champs- Elysées. Il part en­suite tra­vailler du­rant seize mois à Or­lando, aux Etats-Unis, dans un res­tau­rant tenu con­join­te­ment par Paul Bo­cuse, Gas­ton Lenôtre et Roger Verger, sur le site de Dis­ney. Ex­péri­ence en­richissante s’il en fût, du­rant laque­lle il dé­cou­vre très vite les op­por­tu­nités que peut représen­ter l’étranger. Et puis, ce sera l’aven­ture sur les yachts privés.

Du­rant toutes ces an­nées, il vis­it­era les Etats-Unis et fera deux fois le tour du monde en com­mençant par Hawaï, Tahiti, Fidji, Van­u­atu, l’Aus­tralie, l’Indonésie, la Malaisie la Thaï­lande, Brunei, l’Egypte, la Tu­nisie, la Grèce, tous les pays d’Europe, la Russie, l’Alaska, les Caraïbes et toutes les îles. Ecoutez la suite….


equipped kitchens and par­a­disi­a­cal land­scapes…but the con­fine­ment and lack of time spent with fam­ily are dif­fi­cult to deal with,” Se­bastien says. “I only en­dured it for six years.”

But what an ex­tra­or­di­nary six years they were. Se­bastien has worked for some in­cred­i­bly wealthy peo­ple, in­clud­ing the owner of Pepsi Cola; the 19th rich­est man in Aus­tralia, Solomon Lew; the daugh­ter of the founder of John­son&John­son (who bought him a €7,000 Cartier watch as a thank you present); and the owner of the Chelsea Football Club – Rus­sian busi­ness­man Ro­man Abrahi­movitch.

“…[Abrahi­movitch’s] chil­dren ate caviar for break­fast and lunch,” Se­bastien says. “One day, when we were in Si­cily, he asked us to find a crate of straw­ber­ries, which weren’t in sea­son at the time. We went look­ing for them in An­tibes, which meant a $10,000 to $20,000 he­li­copter ride…There were 50 em­ploy­ees for 16 clients on the boat…He had no lim­its...”

Work­ing on yachts “re­quired a great amount of ef­fort and a good rap­port among the team mem­bers, as we lived to­gether in a con­fined space,” Se­bastien says. “The great­est ad­van­tage was that there were [of­ten] no bud­getary re­stric­tions, which al­lowed us to work with mag­nif­i­cent pro­duce…

“Af­ter­wards, I went to Mel­bourne, and in June 2004, I opened a res­tau­rant un­der the name of an old boat: Le Grand Bleu. It worked well but, af­ter 20 years in hos­pi­tal­ity, I wanted a break. I cre­ated L’Ate­lier, a small cater­ing com­pany, and…I also teach cook­ing classes.”

Se­bastien has re­cently branched into pub­lish­ing, too. He launched his first recipe book, Lit­tle Taste

Sen­sa­tions, late last year, in­tro­duc­ing a new con­cept in

Aus­tralia – “les ver­rines”. aa


Un hô­tel de luxe flot­tant….

Tra­vailler sur un bateau est toute une or­gan­i­sa­tion. D’abord, il faut s’in­scrire dans une agence spé­cial­isée sur la Côte d’Azur ou à Monaco et laisser son CV. En­suite, c’est l’agence qui vous recom­mande auprès de ses clients qui sont pour la plu­part des hommes d’af­faires richissimes, de toutes na­tion­al­ités, habitués à un ser­vice im­pec­ca­ble 24h sur 24. Il faut savoir qu’un bateau de 50 à 60 m de long se loue entre 300. 000 $ et 500.000 $ la se­maine, sans les pour­boires du per­son­nel, le fuel et les à-côtés.

Sébastien a par ex­em­ple tra­vaillé pour le pro­prié­taire de Pepsi Cola, sur un yacht de 54 m,

le Maridome.’ Nous étions 14 mem­bres du per­son­nel pour 10 clients. En fait, je suis allé re­join­dre le bateau à Hawaï pour le pré­parer avant l’ar­rivée du pro­prié­taire : la nour­ri­t­ure, les pa­piers, la dé­co­ra­tion, les ren­seigne­ments con­cer­nant les pays traver­sés etc. Cela de­mande beau­coup de rigueur et une bonne entente entre les mem­bres de l’équipage car nous vivons dans un es­pace con­finé. C’est un poste qui con­vient da­van­tage à un céli­bataire, voire à un cou­ple .Il faut s’oc­cu­per de tout de Aà Z et dès que le pro­prié­taire ar­rive, on est sur le pont 24h/24, 7 jours sur sept. J’étab­lis les préférences al­i­men­taires, je de­mande si le pro­prié­taire a des al­ler­gies. J’es­saye de com­poser des menus avec des pro­duits lo­caux de sai­son. Le grand avan­tage, c’est qu’il n’y a au­cune re­stric­tion budgé­taire, ce qui per­met de tra­vailler avec des pro­duits mag­nifiques’.

Des sou­venirs fab­uleux…

Sébastien a égale­ment of­fi­cié pour l’homme d’af­faires russe Ro­man Abrahi­movitch qui est pro­prié­taire du Club de football de Chelsea. Ce dernier a fait for­tune dans la phase de pri­vati­sa­tion du pét­role de l’ex-URSS, en reven­dant la com­pag­nie Sib­neft au géant Gazprom pour 13 mil­liards de dol­lars.


In be­tween ven­tures, Se­bastien also found the time to marry Julie, a cus­tomer from his old res­tau­rant, who is of Ital­ian ori­gin. His in-laws have opened their home and hearts to him, while open­ing his taste buds to Ital­ian cui­sine. So who knows? Per­haps Se­bastien’s next taste sen­sa­tion will draw on his wife’s Ital­ian her­itage?

For more in­for­ma­tion about Se­bastien Bo­iron’s cater­ing com­pany, L’Ate­lier, and to find out where to pur­chase a copy of Lit­tle Taste Sen­sa­tions, visit: www.late­liersb.wee­


« Je me sou­viens que ses en­fants mangeaient du caviar le matin au petit dé­je­uner. Un jour, alors que nous étions en Sicile, il nous a de­mandés de chercher une cagette de fraises alors que ce n’était pas la sai­son. On a été la chercher à An­tibes, ce qui a représenté de 10,000 à 20,000 $ en héli­cop­tère. Ses qu­a­tre gardes du corps vi­vaient avec nous en per­ma­nence sur le bateau. Il mangeait beau­coup de poisson et de salade. Nous étions alors 50 em­ployés pour 16 clients sur le bateau. Il y avait aussi un chef aus­tralien et un chef asi­a­tique à mes côtés. En fait, il n’y avait pas de lim­ites... »

Solomon Lew a fait aussi par­tie de ses an­ciens clients pour une courte péri­ode. Homme d’af­faires aus­tralien, il est con­sid­éré comme la 19e per­sonne la plus riche de ce pays et selon Forbes, sa for­tune est es­timée à 1, 54 bil­lion de dol­lars aus­traliens .La plu­part de son tal­ent vient du fait qu’il a su miser plus tôt que les autres sur la crois­sance de la Chine. Des anec­dotes, Sébastien en au­rait beau­coup à racon­ter. Comme celle avec une des filles du fon­da­teur de la com­pag­nie John­son&John­son qui était une de ses clientes : ‘un jour, elle m’a de­mandé de l’ac­com­pa­g­ner pour choisir un cadeau pour son mari. Nous étions à St Barth et nous sommes en­trés dans la bi­jouterie Cartier. Pen­dant que la pro­prié­taire choi­sis­sait une mon­tre, la vendeuse m’a de­mandé si j’en voulais une pour moi aussi. J’en ai es­sayé deux, très belles, mais qui n’étaient pas dans mon bud­get (7000 eu­ros). Madame John­son m’a de­mandé si elles me plai­saient. J’ai bien sur répondu oui et à la fin de son séjour, avant de par­tir, elle m’a donné une en­veloppe et m’a dit que c’était pour la mon­tre, mon­tre que je me suis em­pressé d’aller acheter’.

L’aven­ture aus­trali­enne :’ Ici, tout est pos­si­ble…’

‘Ça peut paraître une vie de rêve : c’est très bien payé, on vis­ite tous les pays du monde et il faut bien sûr avoir l’esprit d’aven­ture. On a aussi la chance d’avoir des cuisines mag­nifique­ment équipées (d’ailleurs on y fai­sait le pain) mais le con­fine­ment et le peu de temps passé avec la famille sont dif­fi­ciles à vivre. Je l’ai fait six ans seule­ment.

Puis, je suis allé à Mel­bourne et, en juin 2004, j’ai ou­vert un res­tau­rant du nom d’un an­cien bateau :’Le Grand Bleu’.J’ai tra­vaillé sur ce pro­jet du­rant 2 ans et demi. Il mar­chait bien, on ser­vait de la cui­sine française avec des plats aus­traliens aussi mais après vingt ans de res­tau­ra­tion, j’ai voulu faire un break. J’ai créé ‘L’Ate­lier’, une pe­tite com­pag­nie de trai­teur (cater­ing) et je pré­pare des repas pour 20,30 voire 40 per­son­nes au domi­cile des clients. Je donne aussi des cours de cui­sine à la mai­son avec 8 per­son­nes max­i­mum au­tour de deux plats...

De plus, j’ai un ami qui a une fabrique de céramique à Saint- Cyr sur Mer, spé­cial­isée dans la vente de pro­duits provençaux. Je les lui achète pour

Im­ages : Se­bastien Bo­iron

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