Cooking Secrets These Australian Chefs Don’t Want You to Know
Whether you’re a whiz in the kitchen or an enthusiastic beginner, we can all learn some culinary wisdom from veterans in the business who prepare hundreds of meals in a single day. We asked our most experienced and renowned Australian chefs to share with us their best cooking secrets that are bound to improve cooking skills in a flash. Masterchef here we come!
Opt for Local Ingredients
“Always use local and therefore seasonal, fresh, top-notch ingredients. If you start with the best, it’s much harder to go wrong!” suggests Moran. “Great quality ingredients really enhance the flavours of a dish. I also always make sure I use the best quality olive oil I can find. It’s a staple in my pantry. For knives, I recommend Global Knives. We use them in all of my restaurants—they’re the best! For pots and pans, Scanpan is always a winner, you can’t really beat the quality.”
Limit the Ingredients
“Use fewer ingredients in your cooking. People tend to overcomplicate things and think they have to throw everything into a pot. Try to get your hands on the best possible ingredients you can—the fewer the ingredients the cleaner the flavours will be,” says Mangan. Make the most of fresh herbs, good quality olive oil and sea salt. Seasoning is one of the best ways to get the most out of your dishes without bogging them down with heavy creams and sauces for flavour.”
Understand the Methods
“Whenever you are cooking a pastry recipe, learn or think about why you’re adding each ingredient to the recipe and the effect it has to the end result. The greater understanding of what you’re doing, the easier it will get each time and then your own creations will start evolving naturally,” says Zumbo.
Consistency is Key
“A practice I learnt from my mentor, Philip Searle at Oasis Seros back in the day, is one that has stayed with me ever since and a skill I share with fellow workers and recommend to home cooks who attend my cooking classes,” shares Manfield. “I portion out the components of a dish into separate tubs or bowls that I then use to mix, adding wet to dry when ready to serve—the salad items, cooked pasta, weighed protein, whatever it is—so that each serve is exactly the same. Consistency is key. Whether it's for two, four or 100. It takes a little longer during preparation time, but makes the final cooking, execution and plating extremely easy. It's a discipline that comes from an innate care for organisation and focus.”
Keep Produce Fresh
“If possible, always purchase herbs and lettuce with the stalks still attached. They’ll stay fresher and given the right love and attention, they’ll continue to grow,” explains Turland, founder of Bondi Harvest.
Here are Turland's three top tricks to keep your lettuce crunchy and herbs fresh:
1. Store fresh herbs and your lettuce on the kitchen counter in a jar of water, pluck off what you need and change the water daily.
2. Wrap the herbs in damp paper towel before you place them in the fridge.
3. Revive withered herbs and salads in icy cold water.
What are your best cooking secrets and tips? Share with us in the comments below!