Chef shifts keep the world’s kitchens on the boil

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

FOOD De­tec­tive this week salutes the end of a culi­nary era with chef, teacher, colum­nist, au­thor and ed­i­tor Elise Pas­coe’s de­ci­sion to change course. Pas­coe be­gan her food ca­reer in a Melbourne board­room in 1968 and pro­gressed, via just about ev­ery food av­enue here and over­seas, to her five-year lead­er­ship of Elise Pas­coe In­ter­na­tional Cook­ing School at Jam­beroo on the NSW south coast (a fi­nal­ist three years run­ning in TheAus­tralian ’ s Travel & Tourism Awards for Best Food and Wine Tourism).

The school’s over­whelm­ing suc­cess is re­ally the rea­son Pas­coe needs a break: look at the web­site and you’ll see ‘‘ full’’ against ev­ery class up to the fi­nal one in June. But it’s the peo­ple, Pas­coe tells De­tec­tive , that she’ll miss (some have come ev­ery year since the school opened in 2002), rather than the set­ting up, clean­ing up or the heav­ily laden trol­leys.

Hav­ing cooked, taught and stayed in the five-star ho­tels of the world, Pas­coe plans to sell the Jam­beroo prop­erty and spend a year in Italy, prob­a­bly Tus­cany and Um­bria. But first stop will be Venice (she was co-vi­cepres­i­dent of Aus­tralia’s arm of the Save Venice Com­mit­tee), head­ing straight for Ho­tel Cipri­ani, where the man­ager, her old friend Natale Rus­coni, is plan­ning a re­tire­ment party: his, not hers. She says many peo­ple who know the fa­mous Vene­tian ho­tel and its long-time man­ager (he joined the ho­tel in 1977) will be in­ter­ested to hear of this other end of an era.

For Pas­coe, how­ever, it is sim­ply a shift to the next course, which will be Elise Pas­coe In­ter­net Cook­ing School. But sell­ing the prop­erty comes first, then Italia.

STEPHANIE Alexan­der is do­ing her bit for global chef shifts. The owner of Baguette in Bris­bane, Mar­i­lyn Domenech, whose hus­band and part­ner, Francis, is French, tells De­tec­tive that Alexan­der was do­ing a stint as guest chef in Four Sea­sons restau­rant at Four Sea­sons Inn on the Park, Lon­don, where she worked with the young ex­ec­u­tive chef, Bruno Lou­bet. Trained in France, he had moved to Lon­don, work­ing as head chef un­der Ray­mond Blanc at Miche­lin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and then won his own Miche­lin star at the ten­der age of 29. Clearly Alexan­der said the right thing. Lou­bet set sail for Aus­tralia, spend­ing 18 months at Ber­ardo’s in Noosa, and is now head man in the kitchen at Baguette.

IN chef shifts closer to home, Shaun Mor­ris, who was sous chef un­der Lou­bet at Ber­ardo’s, takes over as ex­ec­u­tive chef there. Mor­ris has worked at Park Hy­att Paris-Ven­dome, as sous chef at Ire­land’s Side Door and The Loft in County Ca­van, at Osprey Restau­rant on Lizard Is­land and at Melbourne’s Botan­i­cal. In March he was made head chef at Ber­ardo’s, where he’s racked up a lot of credit with owner Jim Ber­ardo for his ‘‘ culi­nary and or­gan­i­sa­tional skills’’, and now he takes the ex­ec­u­tive chef’s hat.

IN a heart­warm­ing story of men­tor­ship in ac­tion, Lon­don’s TheIn­de­pen­dent re­cently re­ported that Alice Wa­ters, famed owner of Chez Panisse in Cal­i­for­nia, had vis­ited Peter­sham Nurs­eries in Sur­rey, where Skye Gyn­gell is head chef. Gyn­gell says Wa­ters has been her ca­reer-long hero.

‘‘ I do con­fess that I ar­rived at work be­fore 5am on Sun­day morn­ing,’’ Gyn­gell said, ‘‘ but as soon as Alice walked in, with her dear friend Sally Clarke, I re­laxed . . . She said that she had wanted to come to Peter­sham for a long time. She stayed late into the af­ter­noon, spend­ing time in the kitchen with the chefs, of­fer­ing ad­vice and telling sto­ries.’’

TASSIE, later this month, is hold­ing out the lure of a wilder­ness stay cush­ioned by some of the is­land’s best food and wine. Devil’s Cor­ner, Pirie Es­tate and Hardy’s Bay of Fires wines, pro­duc­ers Heidi Farm, El­gaar Farm and Tas­ma­nian High­land Cheese, 41 De­grees South salmon and Spring­field Deer Farm, plus new spe­cial­ist pro­duc­ers will be at Top Tastes in Tas­ma­nia fes­ti­val at Voy­ages Cra­dle Moun­tain Lodge. Now in its 13th year, there will be fes­ti­val de­gus­ta­tion din­ners, cook­ing demon­stra­tions, even fly­fish­ing tu­to­ri­als. June 23-26. www.cradle­moun­tain­lodge.com.au.

EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR­IAL Aussie chefs Vic Cherikoff and Ben Christie have launched www.aus­tralian­foodtv.com, a web-based chan­nel on the world’s first broad­castqual­ity in­ter­net TV ser­vice, Joost. Cherikoff and Christie host the show, which in­cludes recipes and seg­ments about Aus­tralian food with a fo­cus on its unique­ness. One seg­ment, filmed at Hy­dro Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel in the Blue Moun­tains west of Syd­ney, cooks up pump­kin frit­tata with bush tomato chut­ney, white bean cas­soulet with alpine pep­per, riberry and blue cheese damper, and a wat­tle­seed pan­cake stack.

BREAD is on the rise in Melbourne, where one of De­tec­tive ’ s lo­cal look­outs, Ed Charles, has come across Greg Brown, a baker who plans to use the best or­ganic grains and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly cold­proof­ing meth­ods to make bread as de­scribed by Ray­mond Calvel in his bread bi­ble TheTas­te­ofBread ( LeGout­duPain). Brown trained with the Roux brothers in Lon­don and op­er­ated Browns Bak­eries in Melbourne in the 1990s, but be­came ill and dropped out.

Now he’s back, us­ing age-old bread­mak­ing meth­ods and de­vel­op­ing new ones: his bak­ery Agi’s is due to open soon at 260 Glen Eira Rd, Glen Eira.

BACK on the net, trawl restau­rants around the coun­try with book­ings web­site www.menu­log.com.au, which claims to have more than 10,000 list­ings in Melbourne, Syd­ney, Perth, Bris­bane, Can­berra, the Gold Coast, New­cas­tle, the Hunter Val­ley, By­ron Bay and Cairns. Check specials, crit­ics’ and pa­trons’ re­views and book on­line at any time.

MEAN­WHILE, South Aus­tralia food mover and shaker Kris­tian Livolsi has set up an in­ter­net restau­rant and menu guide for es­tab­lish­ments across SA and NSW, with plans to add Vic­to­ria and even­tu­ally widen the site to in­clude food news, recipes and re­views: www.web­menu.com.au.

FIND of the week: The as­ton­ish­ing ar­ray of bush spices at Bush Tucker Shop, at Kur­ra­jong, west of Syd­ney, is not new but prod­ucts come and go with the va­garies of things such as desert har­vests. De­tec­tive’s favourite Bush Tomato and Moun­tain Pep­per sea­son­ing is presently out of stock. But the Lemon Myr­tle and Na­tive Pep­per­berry sea­son­ing is a wor­thy stand-in for sprin­kling on grilled any­thing ($8; card pack $3.30). www.bush­tuck­er­shop.com.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: Nigel Slater’s book, TheKitchenDiaries (HarperCollins, $39.95), due out this month in pa­per­back. It has all the sea­sonal, hands-on virtues of a good time in the kitchen.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Pre­ten­tious, con­vo­luted de­scrip­tions of dishes on menus, in which ev­ery in­gre­di­ent is fetishised and spun into a nar­ra­tive, of­ten in­volv­ing in­cor­rectly spelled for­eign lan­guages. (Should you come across any out­ra­geous ex­am­ples, do share them.)

in­dul­gence@theaus­tralian.com.au

Mov­ing on: Elise Pas­coe’s cook­ing school

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