I love to go out for dinner, but I have to say, eating at home is the best.
What is food to you?
For me, I started to explore cooking at about age 6. My thing was breakfast.
The first dish I remember learning through trial and error was that to make a good sauté potato, I needed to cook the potatoes the night before. The overnight rest in the fridge dried the potato just enough to get them nice and crispy in the hot pan. With this I would add fried, sliced onion. The result was, I found out later when I did my chef training, Lyonnaise potatoes. This made a perfect side with fried eggs, bacon and tomato for a hearty winter breakfast on a cold New Zealand winter morning.
My favourite summer dish was a little less classical: Weet-Bix soaked in warm milk, allowed to cool and then sliced canned peaches, and the pièce de résistance: whipped Chantilly cream! The decadence of a little country Kiwi boy! It would seem that, even at age 6, I had some affinity with cooking, with an accent on French.
The thing with these experiences was not the food, actually. It was the feeling of satisfaction with which I could face another day at school after a breakfast like that. The original French restaurants were named with a sentiment of the ability to restore the guest, usually with a broth of sorts. That is what I was doing for myself at 6: restoring. My mum was so busy working. There were 4 kids and a large family property, which required very long days of work from both my parents. Yet my mum and dad also wanted us to learn how to cook, and that really has been something that I come back to in life for great reward.
Even though I work in the industry, I still love to have some friends & family over at home for a meal, because this is the closest thing to a perfect social experience for me. Good food, some wine, and plenty of time to talk in the comfort of the home.
Wherever I have lived, whether in a large palatial London villa with three crazy Scotsmen, a cramped Inner West Sydney 1-bedroom apartment with my amazing wife, two kids and two cats, or a tent in the backyard of a friend’s Bondi flat, I have turned to cooking to connect to people and a meaningful use of time, and it still keeps giving.
Uber Eats and takeout can never match this, simply for the fact that cooking is loving in action. Receiving food that was made in a rush in a box will never match good, simple home cooking. (It is also very wasteful when you look at the resources involved.) We really try to bring this into the restaurant experience, this perhaps old-fashioned sense of caring about service and hospitality.
This is probably why I find myself returning to the Southern European traditions. When they do it well, it is hard to match that level of generosity, timing, ease and mindful assurance at the table.