BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Why I chose the chef life… by Mr Dan Hong, author of Mr Hong

danhongWriting Mr Hong gave me the opportunity to reminisce about the early stages of my career and think about exactly why I chose a life in food. Putting it all down on paper was a lot of fun and gave me the opportunity to think about the significant moments in my food journey that changed everything for me.

Mr Hong is full of recipes, of course, and stories about my life to date – from growing up in my mum’s Vietnamese restaurant in Cabramatta, to experimenting with supermarket staples while left to my own devices at home during high school, and later my culinary training at some of Australia’s most prestigious restaurants.

My first job was at Longrain, a wonderful place to start my journey in food, and included packing away all the fresh produce every morning, making six different curry pastes and deep-frying shallots – a great learning curve for me at that stage – and I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful mentors throughout my career ever since Longrain.

Thinking about it, David Chang is one of my greatest food heroes because he was one of the first chefs to dare to throw out all the rules focus on one thing: deliciousness. For me, the best food is delicious, easy and fun. Couldn’t live without fish sauce! I love bold, strong flavours, freshness and balance – and most of all, I see food as something that connects people, makes them happy and can be shared with the people I love.


Mr Hong is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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mr-hong

Mr Hong

by Dan Hong

Eat like you never have before, with Dan Hong at the reins it will be an enjoyable ride. Dan’s appetite for rare sneakers, hip-hop and collecting cookbooks is only surpassed by his passion for food: everything from fast food to fine dining. Growing up in the suburbs of Sydney with a food-obsessed family and a mother who fell into owning a Vietnamese restaurant by chance, Dan has gone on to become a critically acclaimed chef, working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Australia, including Sydney’s Mr Wong, Ms G’s and El Loco.

Dan’s potent mix of proud heritage, technical skill and boundless enthusiasm for experimenting with big, bold, fresh flavours makes his approach to food truly unique. Mr Hong is as much an exploration of Dan’s colourful path through life as it is a beautifully illustrated book of one hundred scintillating recipes – Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, as well as fusions of the three – re-imagined and re-invigorated for a new generation of food obsessives. Feast your eyes and dig in.

About the Author

Dan Hong has worked in some of the most prestigious restaurants in Australia, including Tetsuya’s, Marque and Bentley, and his mentors include Mark Best, Brent Savage and Thomas Johns. He has opened some of Sydney’s most exciting dining destinations, including Ms G’s, El Loco and Mr Wong (honoured with a hat in its first year of business at the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards) and most recently Papi Chulo, a smokehouse and grill at Manly Wharf, Sydney.

Mr Hong is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Why I chose the chef’s life… by Alistair Wise, co-author of Sweet Envy

alistairwiseWhy did I choose the chef’s life?

This is the question that curious onlookers ask me with gusto when they hear about the long, hard hours and miniscule pay. Some chefs say that cooking seethes through their veins, a passion passed on in childhood and set to dominate their life. For me, it was not quite like this … my early years were spent diligently packing preserving jars with apricots, squeezing muslin bags full of blackcurrants, ready to be made into this year’s batch of cordial or fizz. We’d scour the neighbours’ yards for fruit that we could trade or barter, feeding our insatiable bottling addiction.

But this early fruit-bottling obsession is not why I became a chef. As I got older, I found more foods to obsess over. Fortunately for me, cooking is a broad trade, so there is plenty to get obsessed about.

I love the drama of a commercial kitchen, full of buccaneers and pirates doing battle with waiters and waitresses whilst plating beautiful, delicious morsels, prizing gold coins from the patrons’ pockets. It’s a place where anyone can fit in if you learn to do your job well. Do the job and you will be embraced, no matter what your creed.

I love the pace – whether it be a long, unraveling mise en place list, or a board full of checks. There is electricity in the air and the energy is truly palpable.

I love the smell of food – my life would be so much less vivid without it. Pastries gently feuilletting in the oven and meat wafting in the pan; the summer smell of a fridge full of tomatoes or the delightful musty scent of a quince that tells you autumn is here.

I love the feel of food – cooking is tactile, a sensory overload. Whisking whites, standing ready to pour in the steaming hot sugar to pull together the meringue into a homogeneous mass. For some chefs, cooking is an exact science and whilst I agree there’s chemistry involved, I prefer to cook organically, embrace an inexact approach and rely upon instinct and practice to guide me.

I love the kit – last but not least, I must confess, it’s the toys. It starts small with fancy knives and water stones and moves on to thermal circulators and Paco jets and lately liquid nitrogen, followed by vintage ice cream trucks and delivery vehicles. It’s pretty awesome.

It’s true to say that in the beginning I started to cook because it was a job and it was familiar. But now it’s so much more. I am not just a chef but also a mad man who gets to live food fantasies every day.


Sweet Envy is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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sweet-envySweet Envy

by Alistair Wise & Teena Kearney-Wise

Tumble down the rabbit hole and into the wild and whimsical world of Fleur Wood, one of Australia’s leading fashion designers and an enthusiastic home cook.

Discover what inspires, motivates and sustains her, from flower-scented baths and tisanes to old-fashioned portraits, love-heart lockets and food with soul. Fleur shares her knowledge and passion for all things vintage and offers a window into the creative processes that drive her covetable collections.

Indulge your senses with fabulous fashion, cutting-edge style and plenty of mouth-watering recipes in this visual feast from the immensely creative and talented Fleur Wood.

Sweet Envy is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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Move over Breaking Bad, welcome to Baking Bad!

This week’s Booktopia Book Trailer of the Week goes to Walter Wheat’s methmerising new cookbook book Baking Bad. Cupcakes like you’ve never seen them before.

Grab a copy of Baking Bad here

baking-badBaking Bad

by Walter Wheat

You’re hooked on Breaking Bad.

You’ve got high on the escapades of Walt and Jessie.

Now it’s come to an end and you’re missing your latest fix.

We have just the drug for you: Baking Bad. 98% pure but 100% edible and delicious, Baking Bad is a spoof recipe book created in homage to the TV series that we STILL can’t stop talking about. A cookbook for fans of the greatest cult show ever produced (and no gasmask is required).

From ‘Ricin Crispie Treats’ to Walt’s patented ‘Meth Muffins’ (complete with blue sugar crystals), ‘Apple and Banana Hank-cakes’ to ‘Chocolate Gustavo Fingers’ and ‘Heisen-batten-Burg Cake’ (topped with a licorice hat), this book comes with so many in-jokes that you’ll need a fake carwash just to process them. So, get your protective gear on and your tool kit ready. Because, as Jessie would say, ‘Let’s Cook. B*tch’.

Grab a copy of Baking Bad here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: My Journey Started With a Book by Kurt Fearnley, author of Pushing the Limits

In many ways, my journey started with a book. When I was a baby, my mum had been wandering through the maze of disability when someone gave her a copy of Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles. This book is as close as you’ll get to a ‘how to’ guide for raising a child with a disability in the bush. It’s the story of a boy who lost the use of his legs through polio and follows his growth into a young man. When the medical profession told my mum that the focus should be on me looking normal, Alan wrote about feeling normal. When the medicos pushed the importance of me being kept clean and safe inside the house, Alan spoke of the self-confidence he gained by dragging himself through mud.

Kurt Fearnley credit Tim BauerMy family only wanted one thing for my life, and that was normality. They believed that the worst possible repercussion of my disability was that I would live my life watching it from behind a window. Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles gave them the confidence to allow me to be out there and in the driver’s seat. Whatever way I would propel myself up every tree and over every damn muddy puddle that I could possibly veer into, it would be a long way from that window.

Another book that I will never forget is Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. My sister Tanya would read this to me in my late primary school days. It was before I had found my way into sport but after I had left my cocoon of Carcoar, around the time I had started to figure out that I was different. No matter how much I tried, I would never be the same as my able-bodied peers. I had started to experience people staring at me as they passed by. The confusion I felt when they reflected my difference directly back at me was a hard thing to handle. In a way, I found confidence in Peekay, the seven-year-old boy with dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world. He was different, he was smaller, he was Piss Kop, but he was strong. I must have read The Power of One a hundred times since I was eleven. Before Bryce passed away, I had the good fortune to thank him for giving me Peekay.

I have loved every minute of my journey and I can’t ever understand the adulation that I have received because of it. I find it hard to predict what someone will get from reading Pushing the Limits but I know that I Can Jump Puddles and The Power of One gave me strength when I needed it. If my story offers one ounce of this kind of strength to a reader, then every metre that I have travelled is more rewarding because of it.

Pushing the Limits is a part of Penguin Australia’s Booktoberfest Showcase.
Click here for more details
.


Kurt-Fearnley-560x560Kurt Fearnley was born without the lower portion of his spine. He grew up in tiny Carcoar in NSW, and took up wheelchair racing in his teens. He has gone on to be a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and has won marathons all around the world, including the prestigious New York, London and Chicago marathons multiple times.

His exploits are not confined to wheelchair racing – he has crawled the Kokoda track and the Great Wall of China and sailed with a winning Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race crew. Kurt’s exploits both in and out of sport saw him recognised as the 2009 NSW Young Australian of the Year. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and son.


pushing-the-limitsPushing the Limits

by Kurt Fearnley

When Kurt Fearnley was a kid, he would leave his wheelechair at the front gate and go exploring with his brothers and sisters. ‘You’re going to have to be stronger than we are,’ they told him, ‘and we know you will be.’

The kid from Carcoar was raised to believe he could do anything. At fifteen, he won his first medal. Then he conquered the world, winning three Paralympic gold medals, seven world championships and more than 35 marathons. A world-beater in and out of his wheelchair, Kurt is a true Australian champion.

Inspiring, exhilarating and highly entertaining, Pushing the Limits takes us inside the mind of a kid with a disability growing up in a tiny town, a teenager finding his place in the world, and an elite sportsman who refuses to give up, no matter how extreme the challenge.

Pushing the Limits is a part of Penguin Australia’s Booktoberfest Showcase.
Click here for more details
.

BOOK REVIEW: Charles Bean by Ross Coulthart (Review by Justin Cahill)

Charles Bean, Australia’s official correspondent during the Great War, is one of Australia’s most influential historians. He was, almost single-handedly, responsible for creating one of the most treasured aspects of our national psyche – the Anzac legend.

To Bean, the men Australia sent to the Great War were a heroic ‘race apart’, whose self-sacrifice, courage and valour gave a new birth to our national identity. He later commemorated their achievements in his Official History of Australia in the War and his role in establishing the Australian War Memorial.

A century on, many thousands of descendants still gather at memorials each Anzac Day to remember those lost at war. With about 25 members of my extended family having served in the War, the Anzac legend is a significant part of my own history.

The legend has not remained unchallenged. Some have labelled it an embarrassing glorification of war. It was the target of Alan Seymour’s 1958 play, The One Day of the Year, and as the Great War generation slowly passed on, successive layers of the myth were peeled away. The efforts of Simpson and his donkey were, we are told, exaggerated. Anzacs, it appears, attacked Egyptian civilians, destroying their business premises and homes.

For decades, Bean’s name was a byword for nationalist propaganda. My generation certainly viewed his work with, at best, suspicion and, at worst, disdain. Was this fair? Coulthart’s sympathetic, yet scrupulously balanced account shows we may have rushed to judgement. Bean was a hands-on historian. He got as close to the front as possible, often exposing himself to considerable danger to find out what was happening, and showed great courage in rescuing wounded men under fire. He was meticulous in collecting accounts of battles and sifting fact from fiction. He walked the tightrope between his self-imposed duty to report on the War accurately and the restrictions of official censorship with some success.

Author: Ross Coulthart

Author: Ross Coulthart

Bean, like us all, was no paragon of virtue. He tended to forget his place and intrude into political decisions, especially those involving assignments to command positions. He shared his generation’s passive anti-Semitism, causing him to undervalue the work of the Australian commander, Sir John Monash. To his credit, Bean had a degree of insight into his shortcomings. He later acknowledged and regretted his errors – a further act of courage some current historians could learn from.

Ultimately, Coulthart asks us to confront the issue of whether historians can provide accurate accounts of what actually happened. This biography is a strong affirmation that they can achieve this. Coulthart has a lucid, engaging style which brings readers up close to this subject – so close I occasionally felt I was hovering over Bean’s shoulder as he worked.

This is among the best biographies of an Australian historian available, fittingly released during the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the events Bean meticulously recorded.

Order your Signed Copy of Charles Bean here!


Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997. Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.

Jamie Oliver introduces his new book Jamie’s Comfort Food

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jamie-s-comfort-foodJamie’s Comfort Food

by Jamie Oliver

Jamie’s new cookbook brings together 100 ultimate comfort food recipes from around the world. It’s all about the dishes that are close to your heart, that put a smile on your face and make you feel happy, loved, safe and secure. Inspired by everything from childhood memories to the changing of the seasons, and taking into account the guilty pleasures and sweet indulgences that everyone enjoys, it’s brimming with exciting recipes you’ll fall in love with.

Jamie’s Comfort Food is all about the food you really want to eat, made exactly how you like it. With this in mind, the book features ultimate versions of all-time favourites, and also introduces cherished dishes from countries around the world, providing a delicious recipe for every occasion. This isn’t everyday cooking – this is about weekends, holidays, celebrations and occasions. Whether you’re home alone, or sharing the love with a big group of family or friends, there really is something for everyone.

Celebrating the beauty of good food is at the heart of this book, and it’s jam-packed with incredible photography. Written in Jamie’s usual down-to-earth and easy-to-understand style, the methods are precise and have been tested to the hilt, so are guaranteed to work, but this time Jamie has turned the edit filter off, and shares extra hints, tips and ideas throughout to ensure you achieve the best possible results. This is about making food the very best it can be, and embracing the rituals of cooking.

Recipes include everything from mighty moussaka, delicate gyoza with crispy wings, steaming ramen and katsu curry to super eggs Benedict, scrumptious sticky toffee pudding and tutti frutti pear tarte tatin.

Treat yourself, and your loved ones, with Jamie’s Comfort Food.

Grab a copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food here

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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The Incompetent Cook with Matt Moran, author of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

Matt Moran is one of Australia’s favourite chefs. From his humble upbringing on a dairy farm, he now runs one of Australia’s finest restaurants, ARIA, and hosts one of the biggest shows on TV, From Paddock to Plate on The Lifestyle Channel. But can he teach The Incompetent Cook a thing or two from his new book Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook?

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

matt-s-kitchen-garden-cookbook-order-your-signed-copy-Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

by Matt Moran

Acclaimed chef Matt Moran shares his passion for local produce with this stunning collection of recipes.

Inspired by the market garden at his Sydney restaurant Chiswick, as well as time spent visiting producers all around Australia for his TV series Paddock to Plate, Matt dishes up a mouth-watering selection of recipes with this trademark deft touch and winning flavour combinations. Try the fresh, palate-sharpening pickled vegetables and dukkah or seared kingfish with radish, avocado and wasabi to start with, then tuck into slow-cooked lamb with hummus, tomato salad and mint salsa.

For sweet treats, look no further than apricot and rosemary tarts or berries and meringue with passionfruit curd.

About the Author

Matt Moran is the executive chef and co-owner of the award-winning ARIA restaurant, which enjoys one of the most enviable reputations and locations in Sydney, overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. In 2009 he opened a second ARIA restaurant, in Brisbane, in another stunning waterfront location on Eagle Street Pier. In 2012 Matt opened the doors to CHISWICK, in Sydney’s leafy Woollahra. The heart of the restaurant is the kitchen garden, where much of the restaurant’s produce is grown.

While Matt’s main focus remains his restaurants, he displays his passion for cooking in TV shows MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules and Heat in the Kitchen. He is the author of three bestselling cookbooks, Matt Moran, When I Get Home and Dinner At Matt’s.

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

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