Monday, 7 August 2017

Five minutes with Zachary Tan

Zachary Tan is executive chef of Lucky Suzie, Devon on Danks and Devon Cafe.
Zachary Tan is executive chef at Lucky Suzie, Devon on Danks and Devon Cafe in Sydney. Here are the pantry staples he has on hand at home in order to whip up Asian-inspired dishes at a moment's notice: sambal, shrimp paste, fish sauce, miso, rice, Sriracha, black vinegar, dark soy, light soy, rice vinegar, white palm sugar, fried eschallots, coconut cream, ginger, limes, chillis, coriander, pandan, garlic and eschallots.

Tan is the master of making Malay food accessible: have your chopsticks at the ready for the nasi lemak with chicken curry, pork belly satay skewers and coconut-spiced chicken. Tan says the fundamentals of Asian cuisine start with having the right pantry staples.   
But he says the most challenging thing for cooks that come from a non-Asian background is to to understand the fundamentals of Asian cuisine. 
"The most challenging thing is knowing how or what those Asian pantry ingredients actually bring to a dish and learning how to control those volumes and quantities. For example if you are going to add fish sauce, you need to ask yourself, 'What does it bring to a dish?' I can tell you, it brings a lot of saltiness and umami. And so when you are doing Asian recipe and you understand what it actually brings, then you can move forward," says Tan. 
"I would urge people experimenting with Asian flavours to experiment with the acidity or saltiness or umami of a dish. It's only then you can understand the recipe a bit better and it becomes easier to balance the dishes."
Lucky Suzie is located at 78 Stanley St, Darlinghurst,

To understand the fundamentals of cooking Asian cuisine, it's a good idea to experiment.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Get your game face on for #ByronFoodFest

The inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival will be held at Elements of Byron. Image: Supplied

Take Byron Bay and its surrounding beaches. Now add food and drink to the mix and you have the perfect formula for Saturday's inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival. The June 3 event will see an amazing choice of food and beverages on offer - from high-end signature plates created by 12 celebrated local chefs to artisan ingredients produced in Byron's backyard.

Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival organiser Remy Tancred. Image: Supplied

"Those who are interested in food and wine are also interested in provenance. This event will be a great opportunity to show off our wonderful Byron Bay food and drink produce which our local community is justifiably proud of," says festival organiser Remy Tancred, who is also behind the hugely successful Sample: A Taste of Northern NSW festival held four times a year in nearby Bangalow. Here are a few reasons to visit the first-of-its-kind festival.

Sample dessert queen Katrina Kantani's Bangalow Mess - one of her signature desserts at #ByronFoodFest Image: Supplied

1. To rub shoulders with some of Australia's top chefs
Enjoy food prepared by some of Australia’s best-known chefs including special guest Neil Perry, (Rockpool Group), Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy (Three Blue Ducks), Sean Connelly (Balcony Bar and Oyster Co.) and Ben Devlin (Paper Daisy).
Salumi Australia will be one of many artisan ingredients on show at #ByronBayFest 
2. Stock your picnic hamper with artisan produce
Nosh on native ingredients such as KombuCody (Australian wild seaweed harvested by hand), Bottarga Australia (mullet roe sourced from Tweed Heads and transformed into this golden delicacy), Salumi Australia and wild lime products made by indigenous company First Food Co). Brookfarm will also launch Brookie's Slow Gin which uses its macadamia nuts as one of the botanicals.

Rub shoulders with artfully dishevelled locals at Bangalow Farmer's Market. Image: Supplied
3. Mix with laidback locals at the Bangalow Farmers' Market 
Head to the hinterland to the delightful village of Bangalow where you will find Tawnya Bahr, of Straight to the Source, guiding VIP festival-goers around the market. The market is more like a social occasion as the community's artists, artisans, bakers, victualers, therapists, farmers and friends flock to the market with the enchanted forest vibe.


4. To live it up at Elements of Byron
Enjoy wandering around the grounds of Elements of Byron, where the festival takes place on June 3. For the duration of the day-long event, 12 of the country's top chefs will offer up a signature dish for a mere $10 a plate that you can pair with wine from one of 12 visiting wineries. Schedule a return visit to Graze Restaurant for product-driven dishes such as slow-cooked Milly Hill lamb shank terrine with almond hummus, pacific raw tuna, crispy duck skin, shitaake dust and pickled cucumber.

Learn from the masters at the #byronfoodfest this weekend. Image:  Supplied
5. To mix it with the best in a masterclass
Attend a masterclass and learn from producers such as Pierre Issa, of Pepe Saya Butter Co., a bonafide Australian food hero who will be demonstrating how to Churn Some Butter. Chef Luca Ciano will also be demonstrating how to make proscuitto and Olsson Salts will be showcasing its Salts of the Earth at the beachfront festival.

Much of the bounty for the #ByronFoodFest comes from the hinterland, where macadamia nuts farms are prevalent.

Tickets are $20 and include festival entry, a tote bag, wine glass, festival program, masterclass and live music access, and an opportunity to meet some of Australia’s top food and beverage royalty.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Mum's the word: 5 books for mums who love to cook

Does your mum like to cook? Or does she simply enjoy the pleasure of flicking through cookbooks dreaming of her fantasy life as a competitor on the SBS series, The Chef's Line? Here are a few of my favourite cookbooks that will make great gift ideas for Mother's Day. Earn a few extra brownie points and present mum with a book and a dish you've created from it. Oh and don't forget to wash up. She'll be even more smitten with the gift if she is not the one wearing the oven mittens.

For the mum who is dreaming of a sea change ... 
This beautiful 206-page cookbook includes stunning recipes and photographs from the region's finest producers, caterers, restaurants and cafes. Now in its third edition, this taste of the region invites readers to weave their way around three distinct routes - starting in Byron Bay then venturing south over the hills to the west and finishing up in the north of NSW. It's in your interest to get mum up to speed with Quattro's fisherman's stew or soft tacos with spiced eggplant from Zest Byron Bay. If you're feeling generous, buy mum a weekend away at the inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food and Beverage Festival on Saturday June 3.  Byron Bay: A Taste of the Region, (Nelly Le Comte and Remy Tancred, ($35 available from Beach Byron Bay).

For the love of the location shots ...
Coastline explores the legacy of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Vikings who left the gift of a 'cuisine of the sun'.  It's a book to drool over and will either be an inspiration to grab a bulb of garlic, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables and get in the kitchen or make you want to throw in the tea towel and move to Italy. This is a beautiful book that goes a long way to show how important simplicity is with tips for mastering the "perfect pesto, best boullaibaisse, and purest paella". Flick straight to page 128 for my personal fave: cappon magro (Riviera seafood spectacular).Coastline: The Food of Mediterranean Spain, France and Italy. By Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books, $59.99).

Lettuce eat: for those who love to #eatclean
This is for the mum who never orders takeaway and wants a bit of inspiration in the kitchen. This book contains 100 recipes for salads, sides and dressings that will ensure she will eat well - even if she only has 20 minutes to spare. This book reflects a global trend that sees more and more individuals looking to extend their #meatfreeMondays into the busy working week. Mums who love their salads will delve into this book with gusto for quick and easy comfort food that doesn't involve loading up on carbs. Here, the comfort factor is about enjoying deeply satisfying salads as a main. Salads All Year Round, Compiled by Makkie Mulder (Murdoch Books, $35).

For those partial to fasting ...
Lee Holmes presents a simple, supportive and sustainable approach to intermittent fasting. This is the kind of book that will do wonders for mums who eat out at a lot. Fast Your Way to Wellness is based on a 500-calorie restriction for women, which helps the body shift into a fat-burning machine. Inside this practical book are tips for starting your first fast, incorporating exercise into your routine and a calorie calculator designed to help you curate your own dishes. The inclusion of a shopping list makes this book very user-friendly. Fast Your Way to Wellness: Supercharged Food (Murdoch Books, $29.99)

For the matriarch who likes to keep entertaining easy... 
This book is for mums who have mastered the classics and want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time around the table with family and friends. This will be a well thumbed-through book with recipes such as broccolini and anchovy pasta, and lamb cutlets with zucchini and quinoa salad shoehorning mum out of the food rut she's been complaining about. It's difficult to pick a favourite dish in A Simple Table but if I was pressed to, it would have to be Gran's spring chicken casserole, which is an altogether heartier dish than your mum's famed chicken soup. The fact that the author has worked as a food stylist means your mum will take her presentation up a notch. A Simple Table: Fresh and Fabulous Recipes for Every Day by Michele Cranston ($39.99, Murdoch Books).