“I hate this,” Gordon Ramsay said. “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.” He was about to dip his spoon into the first soufflé Alistair Wise had made for him. Tasmanian-born Wise had just joined Ramsay’s London brigade, and this wasn’t the reaction he was hoping for. But all was not lost. “I hate this,” Ramsay said, “because it’s bloody perfect.” And so began Wise’s brilliant career with Ramsay, the result of a working-holiday whim after three years at Circa, the Prince. “Gordon is as big, if not bigger, in real life,” says the talented young chef of his former boss. “There’s no editing for television. It’s the real deal. But people forget he’s an amazing chef, with three Michelin stars, and he has a really amazing palate.” Later, as pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay at the London in New York, Wise was heaped with praise for his creations even though the restaurant itself drew lukewarm reviews. Wise had worked his way through the ranks of Ramsay’s London kitchens and cites Neil Ferguson and Angela Hartnett as his biggest influences. “They instilled the importance of perfection in produce and execution, and the less-is-more mentality,” he explains. “Angela always said you don’t become a real chef until you know when to stop.” But now he’s back. Back home in Hobart, that is. And ready to use his hard-won skills to open a pastry shop, the likes of which this country, let alone the Apple Isle, has never seen. It’ll be a pâtisserie minus the froufrou connotations, he says. “We want to do all the good stuff: ice-cream, sorbet, ice-cream sandwiches, cupcakes and homemade candy and cookies.” He and pastry chef partner Teena Kearney hope to open by the end of the year and, with any luck, other states will follow. The recipes Wise shares with us are versions of dishes he’s cooked in restaurants, others are dishes he likes to cook for himself – the common link is they’re all things he loves, and they all work. And, yes, that soufflé on our cover is one of them.
WORDS EMMA KNOWLES PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS CHEN
This article appeared in the September 2008 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.