What a week of experimenting, playing and generally just having a red hot go…no this has nothing to do with what went on with that boy at school camp, this was last week at work for me and I really do count myself extremely lucky to be able to describe a weeks work in such a way.
I’m back working with another great friend and chef compatriot much like ‘old G McFilthy mouth’. Herb and I have been lucky enough to work together all around Australia and several places here in Perth, so when he asked me to become the head chef in his company I jumped at the chance. And yes you read correctly his name is Herb, possibly the best chef’s name ever!
Leaving behind an amazing kitchen team and heaps of really good friends at Il Lido was the only negative thing. I just spent a year at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe and it changed my opinion of Italian cuisine, it truly is magnificent when done right and believe when I say it generally isn’t. It also took me the best of a year to finally appreciate my bosses sense of humour, but I now finally admit it – yes Alex, you are very funny. As for Vic, Mon, Stefano, Nic, John, Matty moo and the Geordie version of Adriano Zumba my old mate Gav, I already miss you all. So if you ever get a chance when in Perth pop in and say hi to the team there, go straight up to the pass and say gday to all the chefs, they may look really busy but they love it when people chat to them (this may or may not be true).
Back to my week of food adventure, so we had several things on last week with a new spring menu tasting on Thursday and a big winery lunch to cater down in Margaret River on Saturday, so plenty of new dishes to play with and tweak. The best thing about being a chef is that every chef you work with does every thing differently; this however is ironically also the worst thing.
Herb likes to play with lots of different products in the kitchen always looking to find a new way to thicken a sauce, set a gel, make a foam foamier, make a foam less foamy… you get the idea always looking at ways to get the exact texture or consistency in his food. His food is very texturally based, this is quite far from how I create food, which in turn is why I’m having so much fun and learning so much.
So we where up to our armpits in Agar Agar, Xanthum gum, fizz powders and some other shit I cant even pronounce plus sous viding the shit out of everything that wasn’t nailed down… we were thickening, blending, setting and running round the kitchen like a couple of mad scientists. This is a nutshell is why I’m still a chef and still loving every god damn minute, that and I love big fuck off knives.
Simple things like making rice noodle roll from scratch, making Turkish delight, pressing terrines but at every step adding a little extra love and in turn creating food that is born from love and tastes of it, food that you look forward to people eating and hopefully getting to see them eating it, hearing a grown or watching an expression of surprise as the dish you’ve spend days creating finally passes the lips of an unsuspecting diner. Its fucking food porn for chefs and foodies in general, even the fruit and veg on arrival is an exciting bonanza of under used vegetable gold (Just to clarify, an unsuspecting diner most likely is aware they are a diner, otherwise getting food in their mouth would just be weird and intrusive).
There is no end to how much fun can be had with food, a lot of it takes hours of monotonous tedious work, but this is needed to produce consistency in the obscure, symmetry in the uneven, perfection in non perfect, like anything to make things continually unpretentious and naturally, one generally has to work extremely hard to achieve this simplicity. So next time you get served a dish which screams simplicity and rocks your world flavour wise, then know much work has gone into the dish and savor it even more.
Amen my brother. Amen… G