Chefs from some of the greatest restaurants on earth are joined by gastronomes, celebrities and passionate foodies to share childhood food memories and the recipes that inspired them to experiment in the kitchen... a memory bank which reminds us home cooking can be fun, thrifty, save money and amaze your friends.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chef Gui - Food Writer and Chef - Florida

Sorry we have been a bit slack of late but we are back with a great recipe from Gui Alinat who has recently launched his new book The Chef’s Répertoire. See below to learn about his earliest food memory.

“I recall French scientist and molecular gastronomy icon Hervé This saying: “we like our grandmother’s food because we are primates”. It’s true, primates tend to stick to the foods they recognize, to the foods they grew up with. And many of us, chefs or non-chefs, recognize grandma as the driving force behind our love for food.
I was born, raised, and trained as a chef in the south of France. But well before chef school, I was immersed in a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam. That was the same grandmother who made “pommes de terre farcies” or stuffed potatoes. Quite an odd recipe, but so encrusted in my memory that I must recognize that it was she who gave me the drive to pursue a career as a chef.

Today, as a chef, food blogger and cookbook author, I challenge myself to always build on the things I know in order to come up with new things. But really, at home, what I like to cook is good, rustic, old-fashioned dishes that my grandmother used to cook. And that is one of them.

Recipe: Pommes de terre farcies

4 large baking potatoes
1 lb pork belly (alternatively a good-quality bacon)
6 Garlic cloves
1 bunch of parsley
2 Shallots
1 cup of white wine
3 oz of duck fat (alternatively use butter)
salt and pepper to taste


  • Peel potatoes. Cut one of the ends off and hollow the potato out with a melon baller. Thinly chop (by hand) the pork belly.
  • Mix with chopped garlic, chopped parsley, chopped and sautéed shallots, salt and pepper. Stuff the potatoes. Put the end back on and tie each potato with butcher twine.
  • In a heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven, sauté the potatoes in duck fat until well brown. Deglaze with white wine. Cover and let simmer for about 1 hour. Serve hot. “

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deeba Rajpal - Food Blogger - India

This week we spoke with food blogger Deeba Rajpal. Famous for her blog which receives around 60,000 views a month. She has been featured in The Huffinton Post as one of the "Top 10 World Class Chefs On Twitter" and her account is a great place for all food lovers.

"I have a special word that signifies blogging for me... ~the connect~ as I like to call it. It reflects everything I like about food, blogging and sharing.

The very thought of ‘half forgotten food memories’ takes me down memory lane. I really can’t put a finger on when I became so utterly smitten about food, but memories of my childhood linger on like sweet dreams.

Our childhood was spent in endless long summer vacations languishing at our uncles’ house in the precincts of the River Ganges in North India. I can still feel the cool cement of the airy verandahs of the colonial bungalows that gave us respite from the endlessly long and HOT summer days; days with the fans whirring and everything else silent. While older folk retired for afternoon siestas, we giggled and hung upside down from the boughs of mango trees in the blistering heat, the ‘loo’ threatening to roast us. The ripe mangoes hanging from boughs saw us sharpening our aim to see who would drop the most fruit, in virtual battle with pesky loud brilliant green parrots!

Then we’d troop in, quite exhausted, to find ripe plump mangoes being chilled in these huge rustic metal tubs. The party continued. Amidst great indignation from the elders, we’d dive into the tubs with our full arms and have a mango fight in there, grabbing our pick. The treat was of course when each of us settled down eventually and savoured the ripe luscious mango, the juices dripping down elbows … but that was just the way it was meant to be!

Mango memories underlined my life. We would sneak into a dark cool room which my paternal grandmother kept earthen jars filled with mango pickle under lock and key. One of us would steal the key, and we would each grab a sliver of sun-dried mango pickle & run! All these now seem a thing of the past, though the flavours of my childhood still remain … sweet, salty, tangy, and juicy, above all, vivid and colourful. It’s a small wonder that I love working with fruit in desserts, baked or otherwise.

I’d like to share a simple recipe for a mango ice-cream that I make often, one that spells summer for us. It connects me to the days gone by, the flavours and the colours linked to those memories. I love the visual delight it offers!"

Mango Ice-Cream

500ml low fat cream (25% fat)
400ml can of condensed milk
Mangoes - 2-3 / pureed
Pistachio nuts - a handful / optional

  • Beat the cream & condensed milk well. Add the mango puree and blend well. Add the roughly chopped nuts, if using, & whisk with a balloon whisk.
  • Put it into your ice-cream maker. Else, put into a freezer safe plastic bowl with a tight fitting lid & put into the freezer. Whisk the ice-cream every hour to break the crystals that form from the edge inwards, at least 5-6 times. Leave to set for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Top with slivered pistachio nuts! It's absolutely delicious.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shelly Preston - Chocolatier - UK

Shelly Preston is a chocolatier, founder of Boutique Aromatique and 'one to watch' in the culinary world. A new kid on the block with a passion for top drawer aromatics, natural perfumery and all things flora; all of which inspire her chocolate work. Her experience with artisan perfumers and world class aromatherapists have inspired her use of aromatics and essential oils in cooking and she is already on call to a number of celebrities who impress their guests with her bespoke chocolate collections.

"When it comes to food I’ve always followed my nose and it usually leads me to something sweet. Nana Midge’s home baked lemon curd taflins and caraway seed cake were irresistible to me and to this day a mere whiff of toasty, aromatic caraway unlocks a potent and fond aroma-memory. However, chocolate in all its glory is my childhood given. It’s also a personal passion and now my livelihood so it goes without saying that my most treasured food memory involves the sweet and sacred stuff.

My memory is one of anticipation; anticipation of a fresh cream éclair from the village bakery. My Mum used to make the trip to the bakery exciting and it was clear that it was a treat and reward for being good and also, a delicious reminder from her to me that she was a nice Mum and that I should really behave myself more often! It’s therefore embedded in my psyche that I reach for patisserie as a way of rewarding myself. I think a lot of people do and as I’m a firm believer in ‘don’t deny’ food and that anything in moderation that comforts and satisfies the soul has its rightful place, then who’s to argue?

There’s a huge disparity between the village/high street bakeries these days. Modern, cosmopolitan bakeries bill ‘patisserie du jour’ macaroons as their star turn while the more provincial, commercial bakeries seem to have resorted to often the most sad array of bastardised cakes and novelty offerings filled with synthetic cream and E numbers. To me, the chocolate éclair should be treasured and seldom meddled with. I ask, what could be more perfect than a choux bun, bursting at the seams with whipped cream and slathered in chocolate…eaten at breakfast, lunch or tea?

My Mum always says, “you can eat as many chocolate éclairs as you like, they’re like eating fresh air”. A weird science I know because there’s nothing healthy about them at all but I’ve found myself saying the same thing over and over..if only to justify to myself that it’s ok to have another one (or two). I’m so crazy about éclairs that when I first learned to make them at pastry college I literally raised my hands to the gourmet gods and said ‘thank you’. I’m now able to make my own and re-live my ‘chocolate fresh air’ (I mean) chocolate éclair memory over and over and over again.

Thanks for the memory Mum."

Chocolate éclairs

Choux Paste Ingredients:
Butter x 125g
Water x 300ml
Strong White Flour x 150ml
Eggs x 4/5 (beaten)
Salt (tiny pinch)

Chocolate Topping & Filling Ingredients:
Dark Chocolate x 400g (chopped in to tiny pieces)
Whipping or Double Cream x 300ml

(I’m using pure melted chocolate for the topping and fresh cream for the filling rather than the traditional chocolate icing and pastry cream here because that’s how I’ve always eaten them and how I remember them best)


  • Heat the oven to 200 to 215°C.
  • Put the butter, water and salt in a heavy bottomed pan and gently bring to the boil.
  • As the butter melts, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  • As soon as the mixture is boiling remove from the heat, fold in the sieved flour and beat.
  • Return to a moderate heat and beat vigorously and continuously until the mixture swells, resembles a smooth dough and leaves the sides of the pan completely.
  • Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a food mixer and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Gradually add the eggs and mix well (with a beater). You are looking for a shiny, dropping consistency to emerge.
  • Spoon the mixture in to a piping bag, no need for a nozzle, just chop the end off making a 1cm opening. Set aside.
  • Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Pipe your mixture in straight lines directly on to the parchment about 5” long, leaving enough space either side as they will double in size.
  • Bake for approx 30 minutes but keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to become ‘crispy’. You’re looking for a puffed up, golden bun.
  • Once you have removed the buns from the oven you may want to make a tiny slit in each one to let any trapped air escape. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Now whip your cream until it’s well aerated, fluffy and pipeable. Only sweeten the cream if you must. Transfer to a piping bag, no need for a nozzle, with an opening of approx 5mm diameter. Set aside in the fridge.
  • Once the choux buns have cooled completely start melting the chocolate in a bain-marie. A few moments before all the pieces have melted, remove from the heat. The heat on the bottom of the bowl will melt the rest. Add in a few fresh pieces of chocolate and stir in. This method should give you a glossy finish. If you have a tempering machine to do this all the better.
  • Now dip your choux buns face down in to the melted chocolate so that you have one half coated, leaving the other side plain. Set aside (chocolate side up) for the chocolate to set.
  • Once the chocolate has set, make a hole approx 5mm in diameter at opposite ends i.e. the top and tale of the choux buns.
  • Pipe the whipped cream inside the bun from both ends. This allows the cream to meet in the middle for an all over fill. The weight of the bun will tell you once they’re full enough

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Judi Orlick - Food Sylist - New York

This week we spoke with Food Stylist Judi Orlick about one of her earliest food memory. Judi's food styling and recipes can be seen on national brand packaging, TV and the internet, in magazines, catalogues and national print advertising. With 12 years in the culinary field and a prior 12 year career in graphic design, she combines her passion for food with the visual arts. Judi has worked with brand clients from Cuisinart to Ziploc and Editorial clients from Bon Appetit to Mens Health. You may have seen her work on CBS News Early Show or in films such as Zoolander.

"Early food memories for me = Road-trip sandwiches. Growing up, my family went on road trips to see America – lots of them – long ones. This required amazing planning and coordination from my parents and the cooperation of my two brothers and myself. Until we reached our final destination, lunch was always sandwiches.

Usually sometime between 4 and 6am, my brothers helped my dad pack the station wagon with a Tetris-like flair way before the game existed, fitting far more into that car and luggage rack than anyone would think physically possible.

I helped my mom in the motel room du jour making sandwiches for the trip so we didn’t have to stop on the way to our next destination. These sandwiches – fluffy white bread, peanut butter and jelly, sometimes tuna salad, ham and cheese, bologna and cheese (my personal favorite), turkey and cheese (always white American cheese) – some with mustard, lettuce or mayo, some without – were the stuff of adventure and traveling.

My mother was able to produce these sandwiches with precision and speed. I was proud when asked to help. There were 4 rows of bread, 5 slices each (that’s what fit on motel desks – yes we cleaned them first). Two rows plain, one row mustard, one row mayo. Lettuce here, lunchmeats there, peanut butter here, jelly there. Close, cut, wrap, repeat. Sandwiches were re-packed into the bag the bread came in, tuna in its own bag because my brothers thought it smelled gross. The cooler was then filled with ice then sandwiches and soda were nestled in for the journey.

I crave them still and can clearly taste them in my mind. Sun beating down from outside, AC inside, something strange on the radio, roads taking us through farmland, coastline and cities alike and me crawling into the back to retrieve everyone’s sandwich orders from the cooler. The crinkle of chilled plastic wrap, the light scent of good old yellow mustard, the coolness of the bread and its contents, all slightly yet perfectly compressed for maximum enjoyment, all made with love. Perfect"

Here’s Judi's favorite from those trips and a few slightly updated variations for today.

The Original Road-Trip Bologna and Cheese Sandwiches

Makes 5

  • 10 slices White bread (Wonder or Pepperidge Farm, this is a memory: do not judge)
  • 10 slices American cheese, from the deli counter, not that wrapped stuff
  • 10 slices All-beef bologna
  • 5 leaves Iceberg lettuce, rinsed and crisped overnight in an ice bucket, patted dry
  • Yellow mustard, optional

1. Lay out two rows of 5 bread slices each on clean surface.

2. Place 2 slices cheese on each slice of bread on the bottom row, followed by 2 slices of bologna then lettuce.

3. Spread yellow mustard, if desired, on upper row of bread slices. Squeezing smiley faces from the bottle onto bread is also acceptable.

4. Place upper row of bread slices (mustard side in) on top of bottom row. Slice, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat.

Updated Variations

Although the sandwich above is perfect to me as it is, here are what I would imagine could rate as current, fancier cousins.


Sourdough or soft multigrain for white bread

Munster, Provolone or Brie in place of American cheese

Pâté, Serrano ham or prosciutto instead of bologna

Arugula, watercress or romaine instead of Iceberg

Dijon, spicy mustard, grainy mustard, sliced tomato, onion confit, cornichons and capers would dress all of these nicely.

© 2010 Judi Orlick