Rachel Khoo takes you through the food paradise that Melbourne is known as.
According to British food veteran Rachel Khoo, the culinary scene of Melbourne is as dynamic as London’s. In her ongoing TV series Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Melbourne, she explores the multicultural food circuit of the Australian city and its brigade of young chefs, while also revealing plenty of its hidden sightseeing treasures. For eight weeks, she travelled through Melbourne, looking for inspiration to be used in her warehouse kitchen later.
Khoo shares her culinary odyssey in the world-renowned foodie capital of Australia.
Did you experiment with the traditional bush tucker foods?
Not a lot. But I did try some native ingredients such as lemon myrtle (a herb with a fresh lemony flavour), finger limes (a lime with a caviar-like interior), and salt bush (semi-succulent, which you can use for stir fries). But since they are hard to find in supermarkets, I didn’t work a lot with them. I tend to develop recipes that people can cook at home easily.
Did you try any native specialty food during your stay?
I harvested some amazing mussels on the Bellarine coast and tasted artisanal goats cheese in the Bellarine area. I went fishing for golden trout, and picked fragrant peaches and apricots in an orchard in the Dandenong region.
An Asian restaurant you enjoyed eating at.
We filmed at Lentil As Anything (where you pay what you think the food is worth). They had cooks from Sri Lanka who made mouthwatering dosa and lentil curry.
Fondest Melbourne food memory.
The croissants at Lune Croissanterie bakery. They’re divine and the best I’ve eaten outside of Paris. When I was there, I saw people queuing up outside it at three in the morning. It opened at 8 am and was sold out in an hour. There was a maximum order of six croissants per person.
A culinary innovation you experienced.
I met an amazing chef, named Elena Bonnici, who combines her Maltese, Italian, and Egyptian backgrounds, with Australian food. Her creations are full of flavour, and looked quite beautiful on the plate too.
Will you be improvising on any dishes you have tried?
Plenty! One of the recipes I make in the series is Vietnamese lettuce cups with fish parma fingers. It was inspired by one of the most popular dishes in Australia, chicken parma (Italian origin: chicken with breadcrumbs), and the amazing Vietnamese food I had in Melbourne.
With the rise of ‘celebrity chefs’, do awards and Michelin stars still matter?
Yes and no. I don’t think the rise of the celebrity chef has an influence on Michelin stars. It’s the social media, travel portals such as TripAdvisor, and food blogs that have an influence on restaurants. When someone searches for a restaurant online, they are likely to value someone’s blog as much as the Michelin guide.
Your favorite food TV show anchor.
Monday-Friday. 8 pm, on TLC