The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry


Society & Culture






January 2015
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31


Massimo Bottura is considered to be the greatest living Italian chef. He runs Osteria Francescana in Modena, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, which is currently ranked #3 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards list.

His brilliant new cookbook, 'Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef' (out through Phaidon) covers 20 years of his iconic dishes, which include items such as Tortellini Walking On Broth, Memory of a Mortadella Sandwich, A Potato Waiting To Become A Truffle, Oops I Dropped The Lemon Tart and Snails In The Vineyard.

In this podcast, he talks about everything from the Australians who tried to kill him, what inspires his work, and also the 'craziest' thing he's ever done in the name of food.

Direct download: massimobottura2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:15 PM

Kylie Millar has a masters of physiotherapy – and has even worked with the Sydney Swans AFL team! – but that’s probably not why you’ve heard of her. She’s done time at Mugaritz in Spain, which is ranked no. 6 on the World’s Best Restaurants list, and also has worked as a pastry chef at the sugar-laced wonderland that is Burch and Purchese in Melbourne and is currently turning out desserts at the acclaimed new Sydney outpost of Pei Modern. In 2012, she also was a contestant on a TV show you may have heard of called Masterchef.

In this podcast, she talks about both the pressures and highlights of being on Masterchef, from feeding guts to Massimo Bottura to meeting her idol, Jamie Oliver (Kylie admits she lost her cool when this happened – “I was worse than the screaming teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert”).

Your sweet tooth will also get a workout while listening to this episode, whether it’s hearing about her nougatine parfait “D-day” moment with Guillaume Brahimi, or when she recreates the atmosphere of working at Burch and Purchese (where you could smell the sugar in the air as soon as you walked into the patisserie; or enjoy a cheese and crumble dish with smoked vanilla ice-cream, as part of the dessert degustations). Kylie also talks about experiencing and making next-level sweets in Spain (drawing on a convention-stretching ingredients list that ranges from lemon pith to foie gras!), and her current role at Pei Modern, where the menu includes unique creations such as a sorrel sorbet with honeycomb and a not-so-typical chocolate tart with eucalyptus and cultured cream.

And somehow Kylie also has time to experiment with her own line of sweets! She is currently working on a range of salted honeycomb, a one-of-a-kind salted caramel with cultured cream, and even bespoke cakes. If you’re keen on ordering any of these, you can contact Kylie directly on The salted caramel is especially amazing! It’s definitely up there with the best I’ve ever had.

Despite the high sugar content of the podcast, I can guarantee you that there's no post-consumption crash after sampling this episode. In fact, it was a total delight to talk to Kylie – her enthusiasm, charm and dedication frosts the conversation in the best way possible.

Direct download: kyliemillar2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26 PM

As a 15 year old, Kerby Craig was fascinated by the world of restaurants – seeing a chef breakdancing in the middle of service (!) confirmed for him that this was the industry that he wanted to work in. By accident, he ended up at the original Tetsuya's as a teenage apprentice chef and, after stints in Sydney and overseas, later helped Koi earn a hat in The Good Food Guide. To mark this achievement, he actually got a chef's hat tattooed on his neck – an act that was memorably referred to in Terry Durack's review of Ume, the restaurant that Kerby opened after his time at Koi. ("That's a hat you can't take off him," Kerby's manager told Durack at an event. "That's a hat I would never take off you, Kerby!" replied the Herald food critic.) 

Despite earning acclaim, Kerby's experience with the industry has endured some rough lows – including the business failure of Koi – and opening Ume was "very very stressful", he says. "I don't know how we got a loan!" We should all be glad that he took on the bank-balance risk and the emotional strain, because Ume is a remarkable restaurant that brings a one-of-a-kind twist to Japanese dining in Sydney.

Also in this podcast, Kerby chats about his own adventures dining from Kyoto to Fukuoka – and enjoying the next-level hospitality of Japanese establishments.

Kerby also covers what it's like to cook a tradition-bound Asian cuisine as a white guy with tattoos, and the restaurant he's most looking forward to (Clayton Wells' Automata, which opens next year).


Direct download: kerbycraig.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50 PM

Hetty McKinnon is the creative force – and salad-making ace – behind Arthur Street Kitchen. Her one-woman business saw her taking lunch orders from locals, creating meals from scratch at her Surry Hills home, and personally delivering these salads every Thursday and Friday on her bike.

To pull this off, Hetty had to single-handedly cook 100 salads a week in her domestic kitchen, playing a game of ingredient Tetris just to fit all the required produce into her very normal-sized fridge. And even if it was plummeting with rain, Hetty would make all the salad deliveries herself – something she's been doing (without complaint!) since 2011.

During this podcast, Hetty also talks about life before her Arthur Street Kitchen adventures – such as her start in PR, and her macaron-making challenges for Remy & Lee's – as well as the cookbook she created after people kept asking for her much-loved salad recipes. The resulting publication, Community, has been a hit, but producing the title also led to Hetty's first-ever appointment with a physio – it was that gruelling! 

She also talks about the next chapter of Arthur Street Kitchen, which is moving from Surry Hills to Brooklyn; what it's been like to be a vegetarian for the last 20 years, and where she likes to eat and drink in Sydney.

Direct download: hettymckinnon2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31 PM

Nick Smith's early fascination with food was marked, literally, with a bang. A childhood cooking incident – which led to an unexpected visit from the bomb squad – did not deter his culinary interests, nor did a 10-year career in stockbroking. Along the way, he started his own catering company, became involved with Single Origin Roasters and, most recently, is the reason why people have been blitzing through bowls of ramen at the Rising Sun Workshop pop-up noodle bar and communal motorcycle garage in Newtown.

In this podcast, Nick also talks about the creative ways he's worked around the limits of – for instance – currently only having one frypan in the Rising Sun Workshop kitchen (blowtorches have been deployed) and how he went on a ramen study-binge before finalising the three types of memorable broths that he serves at the current Newtown pop-up: The Darkness, The Light and The Monk.  

The current phase of Rising Sun will wind up on Sunday September 21. Nick talks about the special dinners that will take place in the lead-up to this final date, as well as the next stage of the ramen bar. The workshop crew is waiting on the response to a development application currently before City of Sydney council. If all goes well, this noodle joint/communal workshop will rise again at the old Mitre 10 site in Newtown, on 1 Whateley Lane. Fingers crossed that these guys re-emerge soon – they've been doing great things at the current Lennox St site; plus, Sydney needs its ramen fix!

PS The David-Chang-endorsed ramen place in JR Tokyo that we discuss in the interview is Rokurinsha.

Direct download: nicksmith-edited.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05 PM

Chui Lee Luk grew up in Malaysia, visiting the markets early in the day – fascinated and repelled by how "gruesome" they could be. When she moved to Australia, she was introduced to French food, thanks to "one of the weirdest competitions I've entered ever".

After a career dealing with stamp duty and commercial transactions, Chui found herself switching paths to work in restaurants – there she was, a former commercial lawyer learning how to cook from teenagers who had more culinary experience than she did. But the monumental change – and battle scars – were worth it, as Chui went on to become chef and owner of Claude's, a Sydney institution that she never let become fusty – not only did she experiment with what appeared on people's dinner plates, but Chui's innovative approach saw tonnes of dirt being transported by crane into the restaurant for an art installation, with the chemistry of the soil magically lighting up LED lamps throughout Claude's. This highly memorable experience did lead to some things unexpectedly going wrong, though – as Chui explains in the podcast.

She also talks about the under-representation of female chefs in the industry, missing French ingredients once she opened Chow Bar and Eating House, her most recent restaurant venture – a Chinese-style izakaya that has recently announced its closure, unfortunately.

We also discuss the Celestial City exhibition at Museum of Sydney and the Celestial Tables event that we're both part of – I'll be interviewing Chui for the Q&A and she'll also be presenting her pickles for a tasting session. It takes place on Sunday September 28 at 2.30-3.30pm. You can get tickets here, if you're interested.

Direct download: Chui_Lee_Luk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04 PM

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).

Direct download: ambrosechiang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08 AM

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!

Direct download: hanzgueco2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40 PM

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. 

Direct download: andrewbowden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:35 PM

When Ferran Adria – one of the world's greatest chefs – was recently in Sydney for a day, I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview him.

In the car ride from the airport to his hotel, I got to ask him about whether he actually eats plane food; we went into detail about elBulli 2005-2011, his spectacular seven-book set about the ground-breaking restaurant's last chapter; whether he still considers himself a punk (he used to blow up tomatoes and claim it was a "punky" phase he was going through); what he cooks at home and what's next for elBulli.

Thanks to Phaidon and Kate & Co PR for making this interview possible.

Direct download: ferranadriainterview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41 PM