smooth op­er­a­tor

Blend­ing is a by­word for creamy smooth­ness in de­li­cious dairy-based desserts, as this ac­claimed chef at­tests.

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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”.


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