110 episodes

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the food world about their dining habits, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry Lee Tran Lam

    • Food

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the food world about their dining habits, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

    Angie Prendergast-Sceats – Angie's Food, Two Good

    Angie Prendergast-Sceats – Angie's Food, Two Good

    Angie Prendergast-Sceats once was an olive oil judge, where she had to watch out for vintages that tasted like "rancid feet" and "baby vomit" (such references really did appear on the flavour chart that's deployed in these contests).
    But for the last three years, she's been the culinary director and head chef of Two Good, which used recipes by top chefs (Peter Gilmore, Christine Manfield, Ben Shewry) to create soups and salads that would be sent to women in domestic violence shelters. You'd order two soups: keep one and the other would be donated to someone in a refuge. The food was cooked by women from shelters, who were paid above-award wages to do so. In her role, Angie would oversee this work – and there some memorable/hilarious times when they did their cooking in a nightclub's not-so-conventional kitchen – and she also ran Two Good's Work Work program, training long-term unemployed women, refugees and disenfranchised people to help them get jobs. It was far from the aggressive stereotype of a kitchen where you could yell at someone to hurry up with the carrots; in working with people who might not know how to hold a knife or are still dealing with trauma, cooking 1000 meals a week is a different kind of challenge.

    We also talk about Angie's recipes – which appear in the new Two Good cookbook, her memorable trips to Japan (where she had nine bowls of ramen in five hours and visited a 1000-year-old miso shop) and what she's doing next with her Angie's Food enterprise.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Monty Koludrovic – The Dolphin, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

    Monty Koludrovic – The Dolphin, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

    “I was the guy who had the cream gun explode, trying to top the iced coffee.” Monty Koludrovic's early days in hospitality were "pretty calamitous", but one triumph was ending up in the kitchen of The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay. It was a meal there, at age 12 (that he can still recap with incredible accuracy), that inspired him to pursue a career in restaurants.
    Since 2014, Monty Koludrovic has overseen dishes at Icebergs Dining Room and he later became executive chef of Maurice Terzini's other venues: The Dolphin, Scout, Bondi Beach Public Bar and Ciccia Bella. Besides introducing excellent dishes (like the Tokyo 7/11 sandwich at The Dolphin), he's also played a role in the restaurant group's collaborative events, like Aperitivo Hour, where Luke Burgess might turn The Dolphin's wine room into a falafel house or Ben Shewry might DJ in a safari suit as his Attica team lay down snacks from his award-winning restaurant. There was also the pizzeria pop-up by Joe Beddia (who makes the best pizza in America, according to Bon Appétit magazine) at the Bondi Beach Public Bar and, most memorably,  $1000 dinners for Good Food Month featuring Hiroyuki Sato, whose Hakkoku sushi restaurant in Tokyo has a six-month waiting list. (Despite the hefty pricetag, all six sessions sold out.) The Icebergs team built two custom sushi counters for the events and the restaurant's seafood supplier said of the beachside location: “When you’re eating fish and you look at the fish’s home, the fish tastes alive.” Monty says, “We billed it as the world’s best sushi restaurant that day.”
    Monty also recaps his memorable (and hilarious) time eating at the OG Hakkoku in Tokyo, which also involved an encounter with attendees of the vampire-themed bar nearby. We talk about why the quality of food in Japan is so exceptional (“You’ve got 70-year-old sous-chefs over there and they’ll never be head chef unless their dad retires”). 
    We also discuss what's next for Monty, now that he's leaving the Icebergs group after six years, as well as his final Aperitivo Hour at The Dolphin which is on this Sunday, December 1: it's Monty's Last Supper, featuring Clayton Wells, Dan Hong, O Tama Carey, Mat Lindsay and The Venezuelans (who are  copywriters and baristas who were such regulars that they ended up doing their own Aperitivo Hour after the Attica guest slot). It's on from 5-10pm, see you there!

    • 38 min
    Josh Niland – Saint Peter, Fish Butchery

    Josh Niland – Saint Peter, Fish Butchery

    Josh Niland can make fish scales taste like sugary cereal and fish eyeballs resemble prawn crackers. In his hands, seafood can become Christmas ham, mortadella and caramel slice. He can even turn calamari sperm into something you'd want to eat (no really)! His creative, waste-free approach to using every fin and scale is a response to the typical method of ditching 60 per cent of everything caught from the sea (“How is that 40 per cent of a fish is getting all the credit?”) and his innovative thinking is showcased at his acclaimed Saint Peter restaurant, Fish Butchery shop, and within the pages of his new publication, The Whole Fish Cookbook.
    Niland's interest in food started not long after he was diagnosed with cancer at age eight. His mum's chicken pie and the excitement of food media offered comfort after intense chemotherapy treatment – he even pinned pictures of chefs he admired on his bedroom wall. These well-known figures later ended up applauding him when he won Best New Restaurant for Saint Peter at the first national Good Food awards.
    Before opening Saint Peter with his wife Julie Niland (“Julie and I thought about this restaurant for so long – in every single meal that we ate together"), Josh worked at Est., Glass and Fish Face and shares the many "hectic stories" of his culinary education. A crab-eating competition, funnily enough, led him to being mentored by Fish Face's Steve Hodges, and ultimately inspired him to open Saint Peter (which landed Niland multiple Best Chef honours and a World Restaurant Award nomination alongside Massimo Bottura and Dan Barber).

    It's fascinating to talk to Josh about everything from the Starlight Foundation wish he was granted as a kid to all the unending possibilities he sees in every scrap of seafood (from cultivating single-origin bottarga to using fish fat like butter in desserts). Many of these ideas are featured in his book, which René Redzepi calls, "an inspiring read, something to return to again and again", and are compelling even if you don't eat fish. (That said, I'm hoping Josh can be convinced to bring back his self-saucing potato scallop one day.)

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Jordan Toft – Bert's, Coogee Pavilion, Bar Topa, The Collaroy

    Jordan Toft – Bert's, Coogee Pavilion, Bar Topa, The Collaroy

    Jordan Toft has been a chef for Saudi royalty and he's run a chalet in the Haute-Savoie in the French Alps. In Sydney, he's known for his work at Bert's (which was nominated for New Restaurant of the Year in the last Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards), The Collaroy, Bar Topa and Coogee Pavilion. His next venture – a restaurant on the middle floor at Coogee Pavilion – has been more than four years in the making.
    Jordan started his career as a teenager and has since worked with many great chefs (he was mentored by Peter Doyle during an influential stint at Est). His career has sent him to Italy and France – and we spend a lot of this conversation talking about Europe because a) Jordan had one of the best meals of his life at Michel Bras's restaurant in Laguiole, France (the lunch he ate preceding it is pretty hilarious, BTW) and b) because Jordan and I recently went on a Eurail trip that zipped through Spain, France and Switzerland.
    We talk about the highlights of travelling via train carriages through this part of the world while flexing a Eurail pass. Some of the memorable experiences we had included eating at Llet Crua, in Barcelona (a cheese shop that specialises in revived Catalan cheeses); foraging for wild Spanish flowers and herbs on the Costa Brava coastline with Evarist March (a "gastrobotanist" who works with the acclaimed El Celler de can Roca); eating desserts inspired by old books and Game of Thrones at Rocambolesc (the gelato parlour run by Jordi Roca, the world-renowned pastry chef); Jordan running into a strangely familiar face at a traditional Lyon restaurant; and taking ultra-scenic trains around Lake Geneva, including the GoldenPass Classic "Belle Epoque" trip up a Swiss mountain to eat mushroom fondue and see Gruyère cheese being made from two-hour-old milk at Le Chalet. Oh and there's the time Jordan bought 150 euros of jamón and schlepped it through two entire countries, too!
    This was a fun country-hopping conversation. Thanks to Eurail and Example's Rebecca Gibbs for making the aforementioned trip possible! You can see my Instagram Story highlights of the trip here (featured are some of the places that Jordan and I chat about during the podcast).

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Kirsha Kaechele – Eat The Problem, MONA

    Kirsha Kaechele – Eat The Problem, MONA

    Sweet and sour cane-toad legs. Multiple cat recipes. A deadly cocktail you’re not meant to serve. These are some of the fascinating (and deliberately provocative) things you’ll find in Eat The Problem, the 544-page book by American artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele. It’s part cookbook and art project, with an impressive list of collaborators (including chefs Dominique Crenn, Peter Gilmore, Christine Manfield and Enrique Olvera) and pages that are filled with creative ways of dealing with invasive species (pig's eyeball margaritas or starfish-on-a-stick, anyone?).

    Eat The Problem is also the inspiration behind an exhibition of the same name at MONA, Hobart (running until September 2) and a guest dinner series happening on August 6 at Melbourne's Vue de Monde, Byron Bay's Harvest on August 7 and Brisbane's Urbane on August 8.
    Kirsha is the perfect candidate for imaginatively addressing pests, given that she grew up on Guam, which was overrun with brown snakes – the "rock star of invasive species". They even landed coverage in The New York Times and inspired WTF solutions (paracetamol-laced mice were dropped from parachutes to deal with the snake problem).
    Also, her wedding dress was made out of invasive deer, she carries a cane toad purse and thinks we should make candles using fat from culled animals. Thinking sustainably comes naturally to her and it was her plan to hold a zero-waste food market at MONA in 2013 that helped kickstart the Eat The Problem project.
    Kirsha is fascinating to talk to and she approaches the issue of sustainability like no one else – instead of being overly serious and dour, she addresses environmental issues with plenty of invention and an unmissably bright palette (the feasts that launched the Eat The Problem exhibition, after all, took place on the world's biggest rainbow-coloured glockenspiel). Even her cutlery designs, which force people to share their food or feed someone across the table, are meant to provoke conversation and social interactions.

    She also talks about her 24 Carrot Gardens Project and her favourite places to eat and drink in Hobart (and Sydney, too).

    • 56 min
    Ardyn Bernoth and Roslyn Grundy - Good Food and Good Food Guide

    Ardyn Bernoth and Roslyn Grundy - Good Food and Good Food Guide

    Eating near a nuclear submarine base on a Chinese island and dining with Tamil tea pickers in Sri Lanka – these are some of the memorable meals that Ardyn Bernoth and Roslyn Grundy have experienced over the years. Given their many years covering food (Ardyn is currently the national editor of Good Food, Ros is the deputy print editor of Good Food – and both have senior roles on the Good Food Guide), it's not surprising that they've eaten far and wide. What is surprising is how restaurant life is something they both experienced very early on – when their families entered the hospitality world.
    Ardyn and Ros also talk about their reviewing disasters, the lengths you have to go to ensure your restaurant coverage is accurate (“stealing copies of menus is something I’ve done many times, I’m ashamed to admit”) and some of their career highlights – like interviewing your heroes (Yotam Ottolenghi, "number one cookbook writer in the world"), your story landing on the front page of the newspaper and covering fascinating people like Icebergs Dining Room and Bar restaurateur Maurice Terzini (“his energy is 10 people rolled up into one frenetic bundle").
    And of course, given their role as national restaurant reviewers, they share some of their favourite places to eat around Australia (Ester, Africola and Lee Ho Fook are some of their picks).

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

kiwi jan ,

Fascinating

I love this show, I’ve learnt so much about chefs and restaurants. I have so much respect for chefs!

YenaW ,

Addictive

Great podcast! Love it.

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