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Florent Gerardin, Pei Modern

What's it like working for Mark Best, Flo?
Mark is a very technical, confident chef. If you're confident with the food that you're cooking, you shouldn't have to add anything. From the time I met him that was always what we spoke about - cutting down the processes.

What's changed at Pei with you at the helm?
I started nine months ago now, and I'm not trying to get Pei to be a bit more French, but I do have to admit, I'm going towards the bistro more than the modern.

So what does winter look like at Pei?
A perfect piece of beef cheek with a warm, full onion cooked perfectly. We braise the cheek overnight and cook the onion in a natural onion stock to nail the flavour. It's the essence of French cooking, and the essence of Pei - there's no space for 20 garnishes on the plate.

Where else will we see the bistro influence?
We'll do lots of slow-cooking and braising, with sides like kipfler potatoes, roasted leek, Jerusalem artichokes, or parsnips cooked in duck fat. I'm working a lot on offal at the moment, too. Not just meat offal, but also fish tails, fish wings and cheeks. I also have lamb brains (I call them lamb nuggets) coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried with a miso emulsion.

Pei Modern, Collins Pl, 45 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9654 8545

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