Frenchs Forest on Sydney’s leafy North Shore
What do you do?
I manage Australia’s biggest, best and most beautiful cooking school – Sydney Seafood School at Sydney Fish Market. I also review restaurants, write freelance food and beverage news and write cookbooks: A Sardinian Cookbook with chef Giovanni Pilu (Penguin/Lantern, August 2012); Sydney Seafood School Cookbook (Penguin/Lantern, October 2012), 500 Cheeses (New Holland, 2011), Wild Weed Pie with chef Janni Kyritsis (Penguin/Lantern, 2006).
Did you grow up in a food-centric household?
Not really, I grew up with an Aussie meat-and-three-veg diet! In saying that my Mum’s food was always freshly made (nothing out of a packet) and Dad was a keen fisherman.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
The first meal I ever had at Rockpool in about 1995. I was blown away by the complexity yet purity of the flavours. I’ve been in love with Neil Perry’s goats’ cheese ravioli with burnt butter, pine nuts and sultanas ever since (not to mention the tea-smoked quail and that date tart!)
When sourcing food, what are the most important things?
Freshness and quality – If it’s not fresh or at its best change the menu and buy something else. I also like to use local ingredients where possible.
You have a great knowledge of the Sydney food scene. Who’s your go-to for…
- A cheap eat? The Apollo in Potts Point – great Greek food that’s perfect for sharing with friends
- Best miso soup? Azuma in Chifley Plaza
- Great pub grub? The Four In Hand in Paddington…I’m not much of a carnivore, but if anyone can get me to eat pig, it’s Colin Fassnidge – he has a deft hand with seafood too!
- Fresh produce? Sydney Fish Market – fabulous fruit and veg shop, plus fishmongers, bread shop and deli all on one site
- Organic? Iku wholefoods – I could live on their rice balls, tofu fritters, millet balls and salad!
- Experimental cuisine? Alessandro Pavoni at Ormeggio at the Spit does wonderful avant-garde food – very experimental and modern but still firmly grounded in tradition.
- A romantic meal for two? Guillaume at Bennelong – we eat all over Sydney, but my husband and I are always drawn back here for a special night out