Category Archives: Chefs

Stefano Manfredi’s Kitchen Garden at Bells, Killcare

It’s a hot, humid Sunday morning and Steve Manfredi is taking me on a personal tour of his wonderful kitchen garden at his highly-acclaimed Bells restaurant at Killcare, on the New South Wales Central Coast. (Yes – I’m very spoilt!)
Stefano Manfredi is one of Australia’s most important chefs and food educators.
His passion for Italian ingredients and authentic Italian cooking has led to him grow his own favourite hard-to-get Italian herbs and vegetables.
In a few square metres he is now supplying about 15 % of the produce for his restauarant.
And ,no, that is not Steve but a scarecrow dressed in chef’s whites – an effective device for keeping some of the marauding birds away.
A corn crop
red onions
big flavoursome purple bulbs
A huge patch of sorrel.
Steve says he loves throwing some chopped sorrel over baked potatoes for their lemony tang.
Steve also loves cooking with bitter Italian greens.
A white turnip. It might find its way onto today’s lunch menu.
Yellow zucchini flowers
beans, beans and more beans…
They’re just starting to fruit..
Damn… some of those birds have feasted on the tomatoes.
Juicy lemons
And a persimmon tree…
Dense with fruit.
Steve has just put in a new veggie plot.
It’s well-fenced to keep out the rabbits and wild deer that were let loose after a nearby deer farm closed.
Steve loves this basil variety and no wonder. It has large billowing serated-edged leaves with a wildly pungent minty flavour.
A big patch of heirloom black radishes.
dark skin and white peppery crunchy flesh.
Steve’s favourite chard
A new crop of tomatoes will be ready in early autumn
a watermelon patch
This is Steve’s dog who protects the nearby chook house from attacks by wild dogs.
The brown hens get a nutritious pellet feed supplemented by scraps from the kitchen garden and lay beautiful deep, yellow-yolked eggs that guests are given as part of their breakfast hamper.
Steve’s last lot of chooks were killed by a wild dog attack so these ones have Fort Knox-like protection.
…and in return happy chooks lay happy eggs…
look at these beauties!
Steve very generously gave me a basket of goodies from his garden containing garlic, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, radish, bitter lettuce and some of those delicious eggs….
…which I threw together for a light Sunday evening dinner of Frittata alla Stefano.
It included chopped garlic, onion, tomato, basil, and zucchini fried in a little olive oil with some lightly beaten eggs with a little milk…
… a sprinkling of cheese…
…. all topped off with some zucchini  flowers.
Stefano it was delizioso!
What an inspiring day.

Slow Food lunch at Becasse

Canape: Goat’s curd, olive and thyme biscotti sandwich
Becasse Restaurant’s Producers Lunch Forum today was dedicated to all things slow – slow raised wagyu cattle, slow grown vegetables and slow seafood.
The lunch honoured Slow Food Founder Italian Carlo Petrini who was in Sydney for the Sydney Food Festival. The Guardian newspaper named Carlo one of the 50 people who could save the planet and Carlo is living up to those expectations. Encouraging people to take time to eat properly and care about how their food is grown is part of his mantra. Here in Australia Carlo weighed into the fight over the ban on raw milk cheese production saying if we could import Italian and French raw milk cheeses does this mean ‘their bacteria is safer than Australia’s?’ Stupido! Here, here, Carlo!
Freshly baked Becasse Bread: Pumpkin brioche, stout epi and garlic rosemary Auvergne
Olive oil spread with black sea salt

olive oil on a piece of stout epi
2008 Freeman Rondo rose
Spring Bay Scallop with organic radish stems, green chilli and balck pepper
Sping Bay mussels, abalone with braised periwinkles, bouillabaisse mousseline and sea urchin jelly
Roast rib of Gundooee organic grass fed wagyu beef with osso bucco of shin, broad bean puree, and crushed Bauer organic Dutch cream potatoes
accompanying wine
Sutton Grange Organic Farm Holy Goat la Luna with caper and raisin puree, baby beets and fresh almonds
Becasse deconstructed orange carrot cake
2007 Vinden Estate Botrytis Semillon
Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini with a pathetic fan

Recipe: Lamb in Yellow Curry (from Arun Thai Restaurant, Sydney)

Khamtane Signavong is listed on my Channel 10 ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ profile ( ) as my favourite chef. Many of you would not have heard of him.He’s not a ‘celebrity’ chef but he should be. Kham is talented, generous and gifted with a wine palate few restaurateurs possess. His Arun Thai Restaurant on Macleay St, in Potts Point, Sydney, is a pebble’s throw from our place and has become our second home. This is authentic Thai food without fanfare but sublime in its freshness and exquisite execution.
This recipe is from Kham’s first cookbook ‘Lemongrass and Sweet Basil'(published by New Holland). The red curry paste in this recipe has many ingredients but can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month and used for other curries. Don’t be tempted to use a store bought paste if you really want to experience my favourite yellow curry.
Set aside about 3 1/2 hours.
Recipe – Lamb in Yellow Curry (gaeng khari gae)
200ml (7 fl oz) coconut cream ( I use the Ayam brand)
2 tablespoons Red Curry Paste (recipe below)
800g lean leg of lamb, boned and cut into chunks
800 ml (1 1/4 pint ) coconut milk
100g (3 1/2 oz) onions, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 tablespoon medium or hot yellow curry powder with a high tumeric content
6 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar
12 small potatoes
4 samll onions
Coriander leaves, sliced, fresh chilli and fried shallots to garnish
Red Curry Paste (nam prik gaeng phet)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
15 big dried red chillies, soaked in hot water, then drained and deseeded
1 stalk lemongrass
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated galangal
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon Kaffir lime zest, finely chopped
First make the curry paste. Wrap the shrimp paste in foil and grill for 5 minutes. Toast and grind the dry seeds. Blend all the ingredients together to form a paste using either a pestle and mortar or a food processor.
Then heat the coconut cream in a large saucepan over low heat, add the red curry paste and cook, stirring until the coconut oil separates and rises to the surface.
Add the chunks of lamb and mix together well , add the coconut milk, and bring to a boil, then add the chopped onion and simmer (uncovered) for 3 hours, until the meat in tender.
Add the tumeric, curry powder, fish sauce, palm sugar, potatoes and small onions and cook until the potatoes are tender. Garnish and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

North by North-West

Justin North’s hard-earned reputation as one of Australia’s best young chefs may have a lot to do with his surname – he just keeps on heading in new compass directions. He makes unexpected U-Turns, reverse parks and then suddenly steps on the accelerator leaving your heart in your stomach – literally. He does suspense better than Hitchcock.

Yesterday, during the Winter Forum of his now highly-anticipated ‘Producer’s Lunch’ at his Becasse restaurant, he showcased his growing passion for sustainable produce and the army of devoted farmers and growers who bring that food from their farmgate to our fork.
Producers featured included Kinkawooka seafood from Port Lincoln, Cornucopia poultry, Lakes Folly Chardonnay from the Hunter Valley and Redoak Organic Pale Ale – a microbrewery just up the road on Clarence St in Sydney.
There were some exquisite matchings – the coffin bay oysters with the 2007 Lakes Folly Chardonnay, the roast duck breast with a spiced ale jus and the salted caramel in the chocolate dessert with a nip of Hennessy XO Cognac. Lakes Folly’s reputation is immense and sampling their ’07 chardonnay was a highlight. The other unusual discovery was how drinkable the Redoak pale ale was with food.
Best of all, seated at our table was a wonderful selection of foodies and producers – Sandra and Rodney Kempe from Lakes Folly winery, food journalists Lisa and Myffy and Mr So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance Andrew Cam who elicited as many shrieks of delight as the food did!
Here’s what we ate…..
Canapes: Coffin Bay Pacific oyster, sable of goats cheese, compressed melon with local proscuitto, Woodbridge smoked trout
Entree: Raviolo of scallops and prawns, shellfish vinaigrette and prawn bisque
Main: Roast duck breast and ballotine of leg with pumpkin and mandarin puree, candied ginger and spiced ale jus
This was an exquisite dish of delicately balanced flavours, set off by the spicy notes in the beer
Redoak organic pale ale
Dessert: Coffee mousse, salted caramel, chestnut Mont Blanc, chocolatte Cognac sorbet, spiced chocolate mousseline, honeycomb and cocoa dentelle with a Single Origin ‘Bundja’ coffee
MC Simon Marnie and Justin North through a glass of Hennessy XO Cognac

The cafe putting Berrima on the food map

Don’t judge Josh’s Cafe by the bright multi-coloured walls and noisy family cafe vibe – as I did. Josh is very serious about his food. Very serious. As an understudy of Serif Kaya’s at the Ottoman I suppose I shouldn’t have under-estimated how damn fine his persian-inspired menu would be.
But this in Berrima? Who would have believed it. A food stop on the highway between Canberra and Sydney doesn’t do it justice. Make Josh’s Cafe your destination. Now.

Grilled quail

Chargrilled mushrooms

Tomato salad with cucumbers, red onions and sumac

Scallops wrapped in proscuitto with pea puree

Lamb shish-kebabs with grilled vegetables, harissa and yoghurt

Chicken with mushroom cream sauce and garlic mashed potato
Croissant bread pudding with vanilla ice cream

Becasse it tastes so much better

Isn’t civilisation a fickle thing?
Remember when it use to be the height of style and sophistication to eat a frozen dinner in front of the telly in one of those plastic compartmentalised trays? I shudder at the memory.
Now the trend is to ditch processed foods and embrace natural ones. From farmgate to the fork. No middlemen. Hallelujah!

This is the philosophy of Justin North owner-chef of Sydney’s award-winning Becasse restaurant.
He is a passionate champion of organic, free-range, and therefore happy meat and vegetables.
Yesterday Justin hosted an Autumn Producer’s Forum at Becasse to give diners a chance to meet his dedicated producers, share their passions and sample their wares in a lunch specially designed to showcase the season’s freshest produce.
Here’s what we were served…

Entree: Seared local marlin with steamed courgette flower, scallop mousseline and pea tendrils

Mixed bread rolls – pumpkin bread, potato bread and sourdough

Main: Three different cuts of Roast Cornish black pork with butternut squash fondant, buttered cabbage, ginger jus and crackling

Cheese course: Tasting of Capparis Goat’s Cheese

Dessert: Goat’s cheesecake, rhubarb, burnt rosemary butter crumble and Lord Nelson Admiral ice cream.
And how much did I enjoy it?
This much!

Terre Madre

“We are in the midst of three major crisis: the crisis of finance, the crisis of food, the crisis of the environment including climate change, are all routed in the same causes. The globalized economy is based on fictions, it is based on greed, is failing us, is leading from crisis to crisis. Terra Madre invites us to return to the terra – earth, and madre – the earth as mother. All we have to do is once again remember how our mothers fed the world… It’s that generosity and abundance of sharing, of caring that we must rejuvenate.

We can, we are the future, let’s make it happen.”

Vandana Shiva
Slow Food International Vice President Opening Ceremony Terre Madre

On Tuesday night I attended my first meeting as the ‘Terre Madre’ organiser for the Sydney Slow Food Committee. The Slow Food movement is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization founded in 1989 by Italian Carlo Petrini. Its charter is to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Today, we have over 100,000 members in 132 countries.
Every two years thousand of farmers, producers and chefs from around the world meet in Torino, Italy for the Terre Madre (Mother Earth) conference to discuss the major themes of food production. Together they share and compare the diverse and complex issues that underlie what “high-quality food” means to them: issues of environmental resources and planetary equilibrium, and aspects of taste, worker dignity, and consumer safety.
The next Terre Madre will be held in Torino Italy in September 2010.

Sydney is hoping to send 12 delegates to this prestigious gathering who represent the best of our food traditions. We’re looking for growers, farmers, cooks, chefs, young people, teachers, foodies who are passionate about slow food traditions and demonstrate that commitment in their day-to-day life.

We’ll keep you updated on our website. And while you’re there sign up as a member of Slow Food. You’ll get to attend some exclusive food events, meet some of the world’s leading chefs and food leaders and share your love of good food with others.It’ll be the best $100 you’ve ever spent!

One of the greatest disciples of the Slow Food Movement is US chef and restaurateur Alice Waters who runs the famous Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe in Berkley California.

Alice was featured recently (mar 15th 2009) on American ’60 Minutes’ about her slow food philosophy – a sign that slow food is finally going mainstream! Take a look…….