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Gourmet Traveller 2017 travel trends revealed
27.04.2017

Wondering where the new in-demand destinations are? We’ve pulled the results of our Gourmet Explorer quiz to highlight the new travel hotspots worth visiting and help inspire your next overseas jaunt.

Fifty-four things that went through my mind while eating dinner at Noma Mexico
27.04.2017

"12. I'm now sitting at Noma with no shoes on. I feel like a toddler in a sandpit."

OzHarvest opens Australia’s first free supermarket for people in need
27.04.2017

"This is about dignity. This is about anyone walking through this door, taking what they need, and only giving back if they can."

Visiting the Blue Mountains farm supplying Sydney's fine diners
27.04.2017

Leaving her native Tasmania to break bread with fellow growers in the Blue Mountains is, writes Paulette Whitney, the best kind of busman’s holiday.

Expert tips for air travel with Anne Sullivan
26.04.2017

Anne Sullivan, CEO of Georg Jensen Australia, takes us through her travel routines and cabin essentials.

Westmont Pickles, Belles Hot Chicken's pickle of choice
26.04.2017

Hand-picked and hand-packed pickles to upgrade your next ploughman's lunch.

Our Hot 100 issue is out now
24.04.2017

Our Hot 100 issue is out now. In his editor's letter, Pat Nourse walks you through what to expect.

Does Newcastle have Australia’s best eclair?
21.04.2017

Nicolas Poelaert, the French chef who won praise at Brooks and Embrasse restaurants in Melbourne, is now making waves with his choux-pastry smarts in Newcastle.

Fergus Henderson's food milestones

Fergus Henderson sifts through the cigars and crèmes brûlées of years gone by for his career turning points.

We are shaped by moments, those "ah-ha!" lightbulb flashes when something becomes clear. I had my first clear food thought back in the '60s at the Hole in the Wall restaurant in Bath - a seminal eatery in its time, when the land was ruled by Queen Elizabeth David. The memory: a white heart-shaped Apilco dish of crème brûlée. At this early stage I was corrupted.

The bitter caramel crunch, the rich yum lurking under the crust - a heady moment. I thought to myself, I want part of this action.

Through the fog of time another childhood memory has stayed with me. In fact, it has been a benchmark in my endeavours: like Glen Miller in pursuit of a new sound, my search is for a musk. It is the musk of a good time, which I first experienced emerging one morning to find the remnants of my parents' entertaining the night before: a paisley tablecloth, half-drunk glasses of wine, the remains of a large crème caramel and the intoxicating cloud of spent cigars. The claret was good and these were the carefree times of the late '60s and early '70s, when caution was thrown to the wind and you went to bed without tidying up.

The years passed. I found myself working in an architects' office; the musk Richter Scale dial barely managed a wobble. To my horror, this so-called "creative profession" was fuelled by chicken tikka sandwiches, bags of crisps and cans of Coke, all eaten at the drawing board at lunchtime. Lunch should be a moment of transition: things that caused problems earlier in the day should have been sorted; you can decide whether the day is working or not and order another bottle of wine accordingly. Though, reflecting on my architectural heroes, neither Corb nor Frank Lloyd-Wright look like they tucked into a hearty lunch. Mies van der Rohe, on the other hand, had a good set of jowls on him, suggesting a more lively interest, but it took Jim Sterling to put the trencherman back into architecture. Just as people say never trust a thin chef, should you trust a thin architect?

My first kitchen had been an eye-opener: young, frightened thugs being yelled at by a bigger thug to the point they didn't know what they were doing - thuggish headless chickens, you could say. So, I'd changed tack and trained as an architect, but food was very much at the forefront of my mind: buildings that ended in feasts, to buildings prescribed by the feast, then finally recipes for buildings. I learnt about inhabiting and occupying space, how the space should have an effect on your manners of occupation. Architecture being a permanent thing, unlike lunch, you have to be able to justify every move. But "why?" is just as important in the kitchen.

And then all becomes clear. I find the perfect combination of chaos and systems working together to produce lunch: Sweetings is open for all. It is an amazing example of tolerance and surfaces that can withstand the rigours of a lively lunch due to starting its life as a wet fish shop. But I quickly realised that the extraordinary ritual of lunch at Sweetings cannot be designed, as it would become trite and boring almost instantly. The closest you can get to it is to create a fertile environment and wait and see. To paraphrase Kevin Costner, build a field and they will come.

You go to a restaurant to eat and drink and make merry. A lot of folk find this hard and require the aid of music, low-voltage lighting, brass, marble, art.

At St John we do away with these aids, making you, the customer, the decoration. The music is your chat, munching and glugging of wine, the waiters' white patrol jackets are not to emphasise their servitude but to celebrate them as sentinels of joy. Some say we achieved an abattoireal look. Next time they're sitting in a red velvet banquette with a beam of low voltage on them and background music, they should ask themselves why.

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Latest news
OzHarvest opens Australia’s first free supermarket for people in need
27.04.2017
Westmont Pickles, Belles Hot Chicken's pickle of choice
26.04.2017
Our Hot 100 issue is out now
24.04.2017
Does Newcastle have Australia’s best eclair?
21.04.2017
Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s
28.03.2017
Our chocolate issue is out now
27.03.2017
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