The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

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Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Curtis Stone's strawberry, elderflower and brioche summer puddings

"Think of this dessert as a deconstructed version of a summer pudding, with thinly sliced strawberries macerated in elderflower liqueur and layered between slices of brioche," says Stone. "A dollop of whipped cream on top is a cooling counterpoint to the floral flavours."

Australia's best rieslings

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Chorizo hotdogs with chimichurri and smoky red relish

A hotdog is all about the condiments. Here, choose between a smoky red capsicum relish or the bright flavours of chimichurri, or go for a bit of both.

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

Curtis Stone's strawberry and almond cheesecake

"I've made all kinds of fancy cheesecakes in my time, but nothing really beats the classic combination of strawberries and almonds with a boost from vanilla bean," says Stone. "I could just pile macerated strawberries on top, but why not give your tastebuds a proper party by folding grilled strawberries into the cheesecake batter too? Cheesecakes are elegant and my go-to for celebrations because they taste best when whipped up a day in advance."

Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

Baguette recipes

These baguette recipes are picture-perfect and picnic ready, bursting with fillings like slow-cooked beef tongue, poached egg and grilled asparagus and classic leg ham and cheese.

Maitre d' of the year 2010: Tom Sykes, Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney

Tom Sykes’ first Sydney restaurant job, back in 1996, was at a little place called Rockpool. Fast-forward almost 15 years and Sykes has not only climbed the ranks from waiter to headwaiter to assistant manager to general manager in time for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in the crucible of the city’s most talked-about restaurant, he has made his way to the forefront of the profession. Understated and unflappable without being aloof, and ever-watchful without losing his affability, he has put a face of professional good humour on one of the most polished service teams in the country.

“Tom is very even-handed,” says Neil Perry. “He has completely taken on board our philosophy of care, making sure that the staff are in a position to look after the guests, and that the guests themselves are relaxed and ready for a great dining experience.

It’s easy to think that Sykes came into this world fully dressed in a crisp suit and perfectly knotted tie, but it was deep in thongs-and-sarongs territory, working with Sunshine Coast restaurant veteran Leonie Palmer in Noosa, that he first became hooked on the buzz of service. “Tom worked with us during his university holidays at Palmer’s here in Noosa,” says Palmer, now at Noosa’s Coconut Grove. “Of course, he decided to defer because he was enjoying it. He was getting some classical training from my husband, Steph Fisher, and he was always an apt and very good learner.” Palmer remembers being very, ahem, popular with Skyes’ parents when he pretty much decided to defer his studies full time, but the decision proved to be the right one. “Tom always had a lovely manner and good people sense, so it’s no surprise to us that he’s done so well.”

As fascinating as it was to see him working the floor at Spice Temple in the months leading up to the opening of Rockpool Bar & Grill, it’s at the latter, in one of the most demanding rooms in the country, that he finds a challenge worthy of all that training and experience. Sykes credits his success in this business to the sense of loyalty, dedication and family Rockpool’s Perry and Trish Richards instil in their staff, and they’re qualities we’re going to see enriching this industry as the people who have come up under him go out into their own roles. Short of cloning him, holding Tom Sykes up as an example of how good home-grown Australian service can be seems like a pretty good idea to us.

WORDS PAT NOURSE PHOTOGRAPHY JASON LOUCAS

This article is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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