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Cruise control: Captain Kent of the Emerald Princess

We caught up with Princess Cruises’ Captain William Kent to talk life on deck, sailing the Red Sea and how to spend 24 hours in Venice.

Midnight in Melbourne style

After-dark glamour calls for monochrome elegance with accents of red and the glimmer of bling. Martinis await.

Recipes by David Thompson

Thai food maestro David Thompson returns to the Sydney restaurant scene with the opening of Long Chim, a standard-bearer for Thailand’s robust street food. Fiery som dtum is just the beginning.

Reader dinner: Quay, Sydney

Join us at Quay for a specially designed dinner by Peter Gilmore to celebrate the launch of the new Gourmet Traveller cookbook.

GT's party hamper

We’ve partnered again with our friends at Snowgoose to bring you the ultimate party hamper. With each item selected by the Gourmet Traveller team, it’s all killer and no filler.

Aerin Lauder’s Morocco

Meet Aerin Lauder; creative director, lifestyle mogul, mother and global traveller. Here she shares her musings on Morocco, the exotic catalyst for her latest collection.

A hotel dedicated to gin is opening in London

A modern-day gin palace, The Distillery, is set to open in the middle of London’s Portobello Market this year.

Dan Hong's salt and pepper calamari with lime aioli

The executive chef shares his salt and pepper squid recipe, including his secret for a crisp, light batter.

2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival wrap-up

Johnny Iuzzini

Johnny Iuzzini

Today's great culinary talents converged at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival to explore the cuisine of tomorrow.

How can we make our food better? There's a lot of high-minded talk at culinary congresses these days. You even hear the word "philosophy" trotted out from time to time. And that's a good thing - just so long as that essential question is still being addressed in some form. With this in mind, we grilled the class of 2014 at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival for their suggestions, abstract and concrete, practical, fanciful and otherwise, on how we can do just that.

Perhaps it was this year's theme of water (following on from earth last year and fire in 2012), with its reflective, Piscean associations, but this year's chefs seemed like a particularly thoughtful and considerate lot. This is not to say that there wasn't the occasional moment of unscripted mayhem (the early morning call to head out to Lorne was, for some of the visiting international talent, something of a challenge after a particularly intensive session exchanging ideas over patty-melt smashes, confit duck wings and whiskey at Collingwood festival favourite Rockwell & Sons), but perhaps it speaks well of the individuals shaping the cuisine of tomorrow.

"The festival acts as a forum for us like-minded chefs from around the globe," says New York-based pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, saluting its spirit of collaboration and friendly exchange of ideas. "We learn so much from each other both in technique and in passion; it's an expression of Melbourne's obsession with good food, a leading international food and wine event with its own original and unique identity."

Christopher Kostow, chef of Napa Valley three-star Meadowood, gave a particularly engaging session at the GT-Langham Melbourne Masterclass. His clear-eyed approach was epitomised by the observation that restaurants are here "to do things for the guest, not to them". Speaking after the presentation, he said that he thinks restaurant food could be improved by a better understanding of the connection between emotion and perception. "With such a focus on chefs as personalities and what's on the plate as the beginning and end of people's perception of a restaurant, we're forgetting what it means to take care of people," he added.

"Our food can be better when we remember our roles as stewards and hosts."

Juan Luis Fernández, of Spain's Aponiente restaurant, punched out some superb food for the MoVida-GT-MFWF reader dinner, and said that the cook is always intimately connected with what he or she cooks, whether at home or in a restaurant. "I always say to cook well and to cook rich, delicious food, the most important thing is to have your love in both your dish and the time you spend cooking it. Cook with heart and cook with love."

Matt Jennings, of Farmstead Inc in Rhode Island, was a convincing advocate of the produce-first line. "These days I think we all have access to equally good ingredients by virtue of things like farmers' markets, the small Asian markets I've seen here in Melbourne and other places where food is delicious, fresh and affordable," he said. "For me, when I cook, the food can never be any better than the quality of the ingredients that you start with. That's the bottom line."

Ryan Squires, chef of Brisbane restaurant Esquire, said that nothing came into his kitchen without being tasted first that day, whether it was blueberries or beef, and Sydney chef Dan Hong said he's always looking for umami in his cooking. The right dose of fish sauce, soy, miso, dashi, konbu, chicken powder, MSG or oyster sauce, he said, "could make a tyre taste delicious".

James Stapley, of Whare Kea Lodge in New Zealand, is concerned that home cooks still don't season their food enough. "And seasoning doesn't finish at salt and pepper," he said. "The lack of acidity generally makes food taste flat; a few drops of really good vinegar or citrus can lift just about anything."

Meanwhile, Aaron Turner, late of Victoria's Loam, and now cooking at Husk in Nashville, said the thing he'd learnt this festival, after a colourful session sharing his Tennessee cooking discoveries at Chef Jam, was that cooking Nashville hot chicken for 300 people wasn't as easy in reality as it was in his head. His corollary suggestion for the home cook? "Learn restraint."


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