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The Royal Mail Hotel is changing
28.03.2017

Executive chef Robin Wickens has a stronger influence at the Royal Mail Hotel's upcoming restaurant, slated to open later this year.

Adventuring along America's north-west rivers
28.03.2017

The rivers of America's north-west running through Washington state and Oregon form the arteries of epic landscapes and bold discovery routes. Emma Sloley follows in the wake of Lewis and Clark.

The World's Best sommeliers are coming to Australia
28.03.2017

For the first time, the world's top international sommeliers will take part in the World's 50 Best Awards too.

Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s
28.03.2017

Italian food in the restaurants of Australia blossomed into maturity in the new millennium, as the work of these trailblazers shows – dazzling and diverse, a successful balance between adaptation and tradition.

Steam ovens: a guide
27.03.2017

Billed as the faster, cleaner way to cook, are these on-trend ovens all they’re cracked up to be? We take a close look at their rising popularity, USP versus the traditional convection cooker and how each type rates in terms of form, function, and above all, flavour in this buyer’s guide.

Our chocolate issue is out now
27.03.2017

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

Roast pork with Nelly Robinson
27.03.2017

Nelly Robinson of Sydney's nel. restaurant talks us through his favourite roasting joints, tips for crisp roast potatoes and why, when it comes to pork, slow and steady always wins the race.

Water carafes
24.03.2017

More than mere vessels, these pieces bring a cool breeze of style from the fridge to the table.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Roasted cauliflower salad with yoghurt dressing and almonds

The cauliflower is roasted until it starts to caramelise, which adds extra depth of flavour to this winning salad. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

All Star Yum Cha

What happens the morning after the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards? We treat the chefs to a world-beating yum cha session, as Dani Valent discovers.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

The perfectionist: Marco Pierre White visits Sydney

It was with more than a little treipidation that I headed to Catalina for lunch with Marco Pierre White and his reputation. He was the original bad-boy chef, well before Gordon Ramsay was thrust into the role. Indeed Ramsay used to work for White, and it was assumed that he learned not only culinary skills but also extravagant behaviour from the maestro. Britain's media loved White. With his good looks, his sharp suits, his wild locks, his butcher's apron (no monogrammed chef's whites for this lad), the fag dangling from the corner of his mouth and the occasional contretemps when he ordered a customer out of his restaurant, White was always in the headlines as the "rock-star chef". He denies, though, that he chased celebrity. "When I first started cooking, chefs were acclaimed. They were not celebrities. Journalists created the cult of celebrity, not me."

Perhaps the media couldn't see past the tantrums to the cause, a constant striving for perfection. And for him, this all begins in France. Our long conversation is a kind of road trip through that country's great restaurants, past and present. One senses that although White lives and works in the UK, his heart is in France. "I have always loved the classic French cooking traditions," he says. We reminisce about the statesmen chefs of the 1980s and '90s, most of them working in the provinces rather than in Paris, recalling the greatness of Alain Chapel in Mionnay; Louis Outhier's L'Oasis at La Napoule; Roger Vergé's Moulin de Mougins in the hills above Grasse; the brothers Troisgros at Roanne; and Charles Barrier at Tours. For him, as for this writer, these were the golden decades of French cooking. Alluding to Fernand Point's legendary publication, he confesses, "Ma Gastronomie was the first cookbook I ever bought." And he quotes Point: "Perfection is lots of little things done well."

The third of four sons of an English chef and his Italian wife Maria, White trained almost entirely in the classical tradition, straight from school, without any qualifications, beginning in a hotel kitchen in Harrogate.

"I was 16 and I used to unpack the meat trucks at the back of the restaurant. I'd carry in a whole lamb carcass with legs attached or a loin of beef complete with rib. We'd butcher it inside."

Soon afterwards, he left his native Yorkshire for London, where he worked as a commis at the Roux brothers' fabled Le Gavroche, then London's most famous French restaurant. Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire was next, then Raymond Blanc's Manoir au Quat' Saisons, and onwards and upwards, until in 1987 he opened the doors of his first restaurant, Harvey's. He quickly gained his first Michelin star, and in 1988, his second.

It was at the sumptuous Oak Room restaurant in Le Meridien hotel that he would gain his third Michelin star. He was just 33. "I walked into Escoffier's world, a world where restaurants were romantic, the food refined. I love romance in restaurants. There should be a show in the room, and this was my ideal restaurant."

It was another book that burnished and consolidated his own reputation, the 1990 publication White Heat. Now a classic in its own right, it's a striking mix of his recipes and opinions. "I wrote White Heat before cooking became sexy. Before that it was very below-stairs."

He acknowledges that there can never be a return to the days when a restaurant kitchen accommodated a staff of 50, but he laments their passing. "It was a hierarchy. There was the chef, a sous chef and a number of chefs de partie with particular responsibilities, the chef garde manger who looked after the pantry, the chef saucier, the chef rôtisseur, the chef pâtissier, the chef entremetier for the vegetables… these days most kitchens have a chef and a couple of assistants."

Economics have dictated the emergence of "modern cooking", about which he is somewhat dismissive - "bits of warm knick-knacks on a plate like cocktail party food" - but he accepts the change. Indeed he is here, on his first visit to Australia, to promote a new jellied stock. Oh, and he'll be making guest appearances on MasterChef, so although he may look at food through a prism of the past, he acknowledges that times have changed.

He is generous in his praise of his now-famous former staff members such as Heston Blumenthal, and unforthcoming about Gordon Ramsay and their long-running feud. (It is said that Ramsay turned up at one of White's three weddings with a TV crew and the two haven't spoken since.) And although he hasn't met him, he's full of admiration for Neil Perry, whose food he encountered on his Qantas flight here. "I've never been impressed by airline food but his is exceptional. Every airline in the world should look at what he's doing. He's cracked it."

WHAT THEY ATE

Roast lamb rack with chive spätzele, baby beetroot and Jerusalem artichoke crisps
Cone Bay saltwater barramundi with spanner crab parcel, sage and shallot cream
Three Sheets Ale, Lord Nelson Brewery, Sydney

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The Royal Mail Hotel is changing
28.03.2017
Happy first birthday, Bar Brose
17.03.2017
Happening Hobart
16.03.2017
Neil Perry pulls out of haute cuisine; Eleven Bridge to close
15.03.2017
Aaron Carr to leave Vasse Felix after 21 years
15.03.2017
Momofuku takes over Lee Ho Fook
15.03.2017
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