The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry


Society & Culture





August 2014
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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

Not many people look into a wine glass and see a career. When Richard Hargreave was at Quay in his first-ever serious sommelier role, he was juggling a business degree – with plans to graduate and land a "grown-up job". He never ended up going down that road and ignoring the "grown-up" path has definitely paid off. In fact, Richard was named Sommelier of The Year at the latest Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Awards for his work at Momofuku Seiobo – a restaurant so great that people have forged confirmation bookings to try to get a much-coveted spot there. It's no surprise that Richard is gaining much-deserved attention and applause for his inventive drinks program; not only does it cover note-worthy wines and sake, but it also includes house-made sodas, custom-crafted brews and juice pairings (think konbu tea, pumpkin and mandarin juice and other next-level beverages). He chats about his upcoming Sunday Wine Sessions events at Momofuku Seiobo,, which he's running with the equally booze-savvy Mike Bennie; the series is an attempt to take the "reverence and stiffness" out of enjoying wine ("it's just another beverage," says Richard; no one gets that stuffy about beer, after all) and will cover everything from fermentation, festive drinks and the curious phenomenon of suitcase wines. Richard also talks about his many other drinking adventures (such as sweet-talking Customs into smuggling bottles home and visiting a spectacular vineyard in Aveyron, France), what he thought about Premier Barry O'Farrell losing his job over a '59 Grange and the restaurants he's most excited about trying next (namely, the latest projects by chefs Luke Powell and Nic Wong). 

Direct download: richardhargreave.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56 PM

Renee Creer is doing something unusual in Australia – she's selling locally grown green tea under her label Perfect South. She's taken an unusual route to get to this point – a journey that involves a visit to an 800-year-old tea shop in Kyoto, becoming a tea master, and enduring the occasional "tea high" from too many tastings in one go. Renee's teas are now served at Rockpool and Cornersmith and she's also one of the organisers of the Sydney Tea Festival, which takes place at Carriageworks on August 17, During this podcast, she talks about "man tea" and "lady tea", how to serve a killer brew, where she gets her loose-leaf fix in Sydney and whether or not she'd drink panda-poop tea.

Direct download: reneecreer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:59 PM

O Tama Carey grew up "eating nothing, refusing all food", so it may be surprising that she ended up as a chef. In fact, she jokes that she was "tricked" into this career. She's made a name for herself in Sydney, through working at Billy Kwong, running pop-up dinners with Billy Kwong co-conspirator Hamish Ingham (who now heads Bar H) and for the last three years, she's been adding a contemporary twist to Italian food at Berta in Surry Hills (her Sri Lankan background leads her to sneaking some curry leaves into the dishes, occasionally). O Tama's hands-on approach means that she's reared pigs for the restaurant (an incident that resulted in her first experience with shotguns) and she's had to deal with mega beestings and chasing queen bees in the post (yes, they do get sent in the mail!) in order to cultivate honey for Berta. She also talks about coverage of women's chefs, what she refuses to eat and her upcoming appearance at Stories from the Cellar on February 23 at Elizabeth Bay House, as presented by Wildwon Projects and Sydney Living Museums. O Tama name-checks her favourite places to eat in Sydney, too – in particular, she salutes the brilliance of Brent Savage (Monopole, Yellow, Bentley).

Direct download: otamacarey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18 PM

Mike Bennie was studying law and looking for a no-brainer job that wouldn't interfere with his late nights out. He found one stacking shelves and driving a van for a local bottle shop – and it ended up being the gateway into his interest in wine. After run-ins with E Annie Proulx, the world of radio, and ditching law, he ended up as an award-winning wine writer. He's travelled the world via his wine glass – literally and figuratively: he's physically climbed a Swiss mountain - conquering 600-metre cliff drops – just to visit a vineyard and he's also endured 10-star hangovers after testing up to 40 wines a day. Mike's accessible, insightful and witty approach to the topic means that he can easily talk about the 8000-year-old wine-making traditions of Georgia – as well as whether you should get wine advice from rap music. He also covers what to look for in a wine label and why orange wine is a big deal. As an organiser of Rootstock Sydney (Feb 8-9, Carriageworks, Sydney), he talks about the impressive line-up of winemakers and chefs involved; Mike also runs through the "Bermuda Triangle" of his favourite places to eat in his neighbourhood, and the restaurant opening he's most excited about this year – the new place that Luke Powell (Mary's, Tetsuya's) will be running in Chippendale.

Direct download: mikebennie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06 PM

Andrew Levins once got offered a cookbook deal during a DJ set. This happened after he opened The Dip, the popular American-inspired eatery that he runs in Sydney with his wife, Bianca. It was namechecked for its hot dogs by Gourmet Traveller when it first launched and Levins' "hot dog expertise" has also been flexed on his TV show, Levins Eating Food, where he highlighted the most interesting dogs in Sydney (including a deep-fried Korean creation that could very well protect you from a killer hangover). Levins also has many fascinating tales about dining around America and shares his trick for making a toasted cheese sandwich with an iron. Plus, you need to hear his rundown of where to eat in Sydney and the places he wants to check out next (Pinbone and Moon Park are on the list).

Direct download: levins220114.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:01 PM

Elizabeth Hewson gets her inspiration from everywhere: one of the recipes in her new cookbook, "Moving Out … Eating In", comes from an incident involving a hangover. And while her cookbook tackles the reality of creating meals when you've just left home and you're nervously counting down until your next pay packet, her day job can seem like the flipside of producing inventive budget-watching cuisine. Working in PR for Black Communications, she looks after luxury food brands such as Simon Johnson provedores and Riedel glassware and hatted restaurants like Otto and Quay – which means she's had the famous Snow Egg dessert more than anyone you know. She's also experienced a lunch out in the fields, as served by Quay's Peter Gilmore and Noma's Rene Redzepi and can tell you about Austrian decanters that have been influenced by Chinese zodiac signs. She talks about what it was like creating a cookbook from scratch while in her twenties with no money, how to make brains actually tasty and she shares some of her favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney (Billy Kwong and 121BC are some of her beloved haunts).

Direct download: lizziehewsonpodcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:09 PM

"You should be dead." That's what Adam Humphrey's doctor once told him. Despite the physically exhausting nature of his work, the co-head-chef and co-owner of Sydney's Arras has survived life in the kitchen with some pretty amazing tales to tell. Early on, his achievements include scoring against a famous UK goalkeeper, being a pastry chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant at 18 and denying Antonio Banderas some requested carbs. He currently runs the hatted restaurant Arras with his wife Lovaine, and his inspired creations include sushi bread, "Tomato Soup & Friends", a dessert that resembles a spilled-over Negroni – not to mention the most Willy-Wonka-style petits fours plate in Sydney. Adam shares his many stories, as well as his favourite places to eat and drink (The Bentley, The Wedge and Sixpenny are just a few of the establishments where he likes to spend his time).

Direct download: adamhumphrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10 AM