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‘Dessert’ Category

  1. Dinner With Aboriginal Dietician: Robyn Delbridge

    February 7, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    top photo robyn delbridge-20

    ON THE MENU 
    Sweet Potato Salad, Almond Lemon Butter Cake
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Robyn Delbridge, Aboriginal Dietician
    After 16 days on the road driving up Australia’s east coast from Sydney to Brisbane, we waved goodbye to our Wicked rental van and hopped on a plane to Melbourne. We couchsurfed with perhaps the coolest group of people in the whole city. After learning about The Eat Team, our fearless Melbourne leader, Nathan, introduced us to his sister Robyn, a dietician for the aboriginal population in Victoria.

    We met Robyn on a blustery winter’s day where she was finishing her shift at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Center and headed out together towards her home into the suburbs of Melbourne. We popped by the friendly local butcher before heading back to her place to cook.

    Nathan and Robyn’s parents joined us for an evening chock full of incredible Australian cheese and wine and we picked Robyn’s brain together after a mega-meal of sweet potato salad and lemon butter cake.

    We were fascinated to learn more about the aboriginal culture, and Robyn has an incredible firsthand look into the lives of the aboriginal population in Victoria. We learned about some of the effects that the trauma inflicted upon much of the aboriginal population by the Australian government in the very recent past, and how modern day Australia is trying to move forward in a positive direction.

    We were fascinated to hear about some of the projects Robyn has undertaken through the Victorian Aboriginal Health Center, such as an original cookbook, running community kitchens, a radio show to educate people on food, a kids’ fitness program, and a diabetes awareness group. We were blown away by her efforts. Read on for her story.

    I’m a Dietitian because I love food. I love people and I love food. If people are cooking then I’m pretty happy.

    collage - robyn delbridge

    What does a Dietitian do?
    Lots of different things. We can work in community centers, hospitals,
    privately, or in industry. Aboriginal health is a niche.

    Did you always want to work with Aboriginals?
    I wanted to work in food from the age of 16. Everyone I knew who was a chef
    was hooked on speed to help them get through the long hours, so I went to
    Uni instead to become a Dietitian. It was during my studies that I
    discovered that I wanted to work with Aboriginal people.

    You help them achieve what they want to achieve?
    Yes, which is good but it can be really challenging because the Aboriginal
    Health Service is raised up out of Aboriginal people not getting adequate
    health care from hospitals and GP’s. They advocated to the Government for
    years and years to start their own health services. The one in Sydney was
    the first, Melbourne is the second.

    How long ago was this?
    40 years next year.

    Everyone can be healthier than they are but no one is ever going to be perfect.

    It’s a fairly recent thing then?
    Well, Aboriginal people only got the vote in 1969. Before that they were
    counted as animals. The board of directors of the Aboriginal Health Service
    are voted in by the wider community, all of the managers are Aboriginal and
    about 80% of our staff. Obviously when you need the expertise, for example
    doctors, there are plenty of Aboriginal doctors but there’s more that aren’t
    so you have to hire other people as well.

    How do you find your clients?
    The Health Service is part of the community, it’s the heart of it and is
    owned by them. People just know about it.

    Is it free for people to get involved?
    Yes, totally free.

    Is it Government funded?
    Yes, along with other organizations. We get Government funding for specific
    things. When we wrote a cook book last year we got $8,000 from the local
    council and this year got another $16,000 from a foundation to reprint it.

    What’s the cook book about?
    Oh, it was really fun! There’s a lot of cook books made for people in
    Western Australia but when I used them here people said, ‘That’s really
    great, but they’re not from here!’ We wanted our own and ownership of ours
    so we wrote them. We invited the community from the whole of Victoria to
    submit their favorite family recipes on a budget, plus we put in a few of
    our own, and we wrote lunchbox ideas and fun sandwich fillings. Some of it
    has a traditional twist and some of it is just healthier versions of meals
    that are really easy to cook on a budget. The challenge in Melbourne is that
    not many Aboriginal people actually eat traditional food because they tend
    to eat what everyone else does. Whereas, up North, in Western Australia, and
    parts of Queensland people eat traditional foods all of the time. For us
    it’s part of peoples identity but it’s not part of their everyday.

    What was your role in it?
    We had a project manager that I worked alongside and checked for
    healthiness. We cooked all of the recipes and took photos of them.

    Is it available to look at anywhere?
    Well, it was for the community so we gave them away. We printed off
    1,000 of the first edition, which we gave away. Then got the money to print
    2,000 copies, which we want to give away, and also make available to sell to
    other organizations. We’re in the middle of editing for edition 2.

    What are the Community Kitchens that you run?
    It’s groups of people who come together with a facilitator, who is usually a
    volunteer. We meet weekly and cook. The principal is that participants put
    in for the amount of serves that they want, so if you just want to put in
    for your own lunch it might be $2, or if you’re wanting to take some home it
    might be $10. Then we design what to cook and go shopping together and cook
    it all up. We were doing it a little bit differently as we were paying the
    facilitator to provide employment and we were paying for the food. We ran
    those for two years. There was a young peoples group for kids that had
    dropped out of school. We had a Dads group who went on to start their own
    company doing catering for events. Then we did a Mums group too. I oversaw
    all three of these kitchens and they all got opportunities to cook for
    different community events and we did the food handlers safety
    qualifications with them. It went really well. It was really intense but
    really good. There’s still positive talk about it now but the funding we had
    wasn’t going to be renewed so it stopped.

    We invited the community from the whole of Victoria to
    submit their favorite family recipes.

    How about your radio program?
    Yeah, that was really fun! We did a program on the local indigenous radio
    station with the breakfast show host. He also worked for my organization and
    he said to come along. Every Monday morning we had a different theme. We’d
    talk about nutrition and how to cook. We had a recipe that we spoke about
    which then went on the website where people could download it. It was mixed
    media, which we hadn’t ever done before but it meant we could track how many
    hits the recipe page was getting, and it got heaps every week! We were able
    to do surveys online and [due to the radio show] people actually made
    changes. More fruit, less soft drink. Anthony, the host was really cool as
    he knew nothing about the topic and so he asked such good questions. Usually stupid ones that no
    one would ever dare ask but everyone thinks, but if you’ve never cooked you
    wouldn’t know the answers to them. Things like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know an onion
    was a vegetable!’ One time we were talking about salt and how it raises your
    blood pressure, and he said, ‘So, if you’re in the ocean and you drink the
    sea water, does that mean your blood pressure will go up?’ If you’re in the
    ocean and you’re drinking the water you might be drowning, in which case
    your blood pressure would definitely go up! …And then from the salt as
    well! He wasn’t even being smart and sometimes I could see how it could
    apply. Unfortunately he passed away.

    The radio host?
    Yeah, it was really sad. He was only 44 or something.

    Another Aboriginal person dying extremely young…
    Yes. The station lost their manager, their breakfast host and their most
    popular person.

    Could you tell us about circus too?
    There’s a company called Westside Circus. (www.westsidecircus.org.au) They
    do social circus dealing with confidence skills and fitness. We play lots of
    healthy eating related games with kids. For example, we do what used to be
    called ‘Sausage rolls’ as you’d lay out and roll down the mat, now we call
    it the ‘carrot roll.’

    Is it kids from an Aboriginal school?
    They’re preschoolers from families that go to Aboriginal play groups.

    Are there any other projects that you’re working on at the moment?
    We have Diabetes Club, which is a support and education group for people
    with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s every fortnight for the whole year, most of the
    groups are every week for six weeks but ours is all year.
    People kind of ‘do life’ together so that’s pretty cool. Last week we did
    label reading, which is super important. Breakfast cereals was the example
    so every one had a different one and we went through the nutritional
    information panel and wrote the ones with the best energy or fat content. It
    taught people how to compare the foods they eat at home. One time I brought
    in sugar-free candy, sweetened with Xylitol.

    Is that good for you?
    It’s like Diet Coke.

    Is that good for you?
    It’s still a ‘sometimes food’ but it’s better for you than Coke! It’s
    sweetened with aspartame.

    Is Aspartame better?
    Yes.

    We’ve heard that if you have too much of it it’s harmful, is that true?
    It’s the most heavily investigated food additive in history. It’s still
    considered safe for human consumption. However, people still believe that
    it’ll give you lung cancer, brain tumors, etc.

    Why, because it’s not sugar?
    Yes, but we eat the most ridiculous additives! I especially love it when
    people say they won’t drink Diet Coke while smoking a cigarette!
    I’m like, you know there’s all sorts of horrible things in your cigarettes?!

    What’s the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
    A Dietitian is more highly qualified. The issue is that people can do a 6
    week course and call themselves a Nutritionist. Although, as of last year,
    there’s an Accredited Nutritionist Qualification, which is more like a
    degree. A Dietitian has either done a 4 year degree or a masters and we can
    do what’s called Medical Nutrition Therapy, which is therapy for diseases
    and conditions.

    What is your food philosophy?
    Wow, that’s very Master Chef! I’m a Dietitian because I love food. I love
    people and I love food. There are other Dietitians that come from different
    perspectives, they might love science. If people are cooking then I’m pretty
    happy. Everyone can be healthier than they are but no one is ever going to
    be perfect. Some Dietitians get worried about eating food in front of
    people.

    I don’t get worried about
    getting too bogged down in the detail, I just meet people where they’re at
    and help them with the thing that they need at that time.

    They feel that they’re not allowed to eat?
    Yeah. In my job, we cook and eat together. I have clients that bring me
    doughnuts to appointments! I think they figure that if I worry about my own
    weight then I don’t have to worry about theirs. I don’t get worried about
    getting too bogged down in the detail, I just meet people where they’re at
    and help them with the thing that they need at that time.

    Would you say that when you’re cooking with somebody it makes them more
    willing to talk about their problems?
    Yeah!

    And obviously it’s not always about food, it’s a buffer to lead on to more
    things?
    Yes. A Dietitian should have a co-degree in counseling! It’s amazing what
    comes out when you’re just talking about food with clients. It’s more about
    the psychology of food. People eat for a reason and obviously hunger is one
    of them, but there’s so many more. Especially the dieting mentality of women
    who are desperate to weigh themselves, they are so much more than just a
    number on the scales! Whatever they tell you you have to just go with it.
    Sexual abuse, rape, assault, domestic violence, being removed from your
    family, being in foster care, being food deprived, all sorts of horrible
    things. A lot of these people are victims of the Child Removal Program,
    which was running in Australia until the 1980′s.

    Where did they put them?
    In white families.

    That’s shocking! It’s interesting that anytime you have a problem it effects
    every area of your life and obviously that would include food.
    Exactly. If there’s been a change in someones eating, there’s got to have
    been a reason. Anything from moving house to a relationship breakdown,
    there’s pressure and anxiety. You have to keep in mind that I don’t work
    with the majority of Australia, I work with an extreme pocket.

    What’s your favorite ‘sometimes food’?
    Lemon meringue pie, Atomica Caffé Lemon and Pistachio cake
    (www.atomicacoffee.com.au), pancakes with lemon butter.

    What’s your favorite ‘everyday food’, bananas?
    I hate bananas! They’re really good for you and I recommend them to lots of
    people but I hate them. I’d say that bell peppers and pumpkin are my favorites.

    Are there certain foods that people often assume are good for them when
    really they’re not?
    Nutri-Grain.

    A Dietitian should have a co-degree in counseling! It’s amazing what comes out when you’re just talking about food with clients. It’s more about
    the psychology of food. People eat for a reason and obviously hunger is one
    of them, but there’s so many more.

    Oh, like the bars?
    It’s an Australian cereal. It’s advertised as this amazing food for energy.

    It’s just sugar, right?
    It’s just sugar! Muesli bars are another one, it’s just sugar and oats.

    Are they better than Mars Bars?
    Marginally.

    bottom photo robyn delbridge-11

    For more information, please visit:

    http://www.vahs.org.au/

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  2. Eat Meet: Chef Michael Elfwing at Hilton Kuala Lumpur

    May 14, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Smoking Allowed, Seafood Soup, LERØY Salmon Trout, Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    Master Chef Michael Elfwing

    I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     


    Chef Elfwing is the head chef at Senses Restaurant at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Originally from Sweden, he studied the culinary arts in Australia from age 16 after being inspired by his father, who was also an international chef.  He’s worked with the legendary Chiong Liew at Grange in Adelaide, and at the world-famous Fat Duck restaurant with Heston Blumenthal, among others.  He’s published his own cookbook, which features his gorgeous photography.  His Senses restaurant has won several awards including the prestigious 5-Star Diamond Awards as one of the Best Restaurants in the World and Hospitality Asia Award for Best Western Cuisine.

    But he’s so much more than a pile of fancy titles and accolades.  He’s warm, innovative, passionate, creative and inspiring to say the least.  He’s humble about his extraordinary feats and talents, and willing to admit there’s always more to learn.  He has an infectious energy and he continues to work hard to earn the fruits of his labor.  Tasting his culinary creations assured me of that.  He was kind enough to let me interview him, snap some photos, and prepare some of his classic dishes for me.

    Needless to say, I was blown away by Chef Eflwing’s food as well as his character.

     

    ~ What I Ate  ~

     

    Smoking Allowed………..  

    Table smoked Tasmanian ocean trout, Nordic deep sea shrimp with sour cream & chives

    Unbelievable texture, melt-in-your-mouth trout.  The presentation is so unique–watching the smoke seep out as the jar is opened, smelling the soft wood chip smoke as it makes its way towards you, and the unbeatable taste.. top-notch combination.  Truly delights your Senses. 

    Seafood Soup  

    Seared cod, slipper lobster, Scottish diver scallop, saffron potato & roast roma tomatoes

    Another brilliant presentation–first you’re served the cod, lobster, scallop and potato so you really see what’s in the soup.  Then they pour the soup over it all, piping hot, as the aroma fills your nose.  A perfect, hearty soup for winter.

    LERØY Salmon Trout

    Organic salmon trout from the pristine fjords of Norway served with a sea garnish of edible sand, fresh clams & Dutch grey shrimp, smoked potato purée

    Another fantastic presentation.  Bursting with fresh ocean flavor.  ”Edible sand” concoction unlike anything I’ve seen or tasted, paired perfectly with the potato purée.  A sophisticated harmony of delights from the sea.

     

    Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”  

    Exclusive to Senses by Parisian chocolatier Michel Chaudon.

    This handmade chocolate simply transformed into a light & warm  chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

    Extremely innovative dish inspired by a larger traditional tart.  Smooth, silken molten chocolate and creamy light ice cream.  A classic.

     

     

     

     

    How long have you been living in Malaysia and working at Senses inside Hilton Kuala Lumpur?

    Eight years, it was the 1st of July, 2004 that I started here.  I’m Swedish but I worked 7 years in Australia before coming here.  I worked in Adalaide before with Chiong Liew, and Kuala Lumpur wanted to “bring papa home” because he’s Malaysian, so they asked me and Kelly Brennan to open and run Senses, based on legendary KL chef Chiong Liew‘s themes.  It has changed a lot since opening, because of the clientele: people go to Chiong Liew’s personal restaurant to eat Chiong Liew’s food: he cooks about 20 dishes and it has been that way for 10 years.

    But here, the Malaysians request new meals.  You have to listen to your customers.  That was something I had to learn, I came from the very stubborn, determined Chiong Liew mentality because I learned from him, that “this is my dish, nothing can change.”  The Malaysians are very loyal in that they like coming back to a place, but they don’t want the same thing time and again–they want different dishes from the same chef.  We might think we know how things work based on previous experince, but its always changing.

     

    What are your favorite ways to integrate aspects of local Malaysian food or culture into your creations?

    I think I learned a lot about Malaysian food, and its integration of Malay, Chinese, Indian aspects while working with Chiong Liew in Australia.  We opened Senses with the concept to cook gourmet Malysian food, but the locals were saying, “I don’t need you to cook shark fin or bok choi for me here, I can go to the local Chinese restaruant for that.”  We had all these beautiful lychees and mangosteens, and they’re saying, “I’ll just get that at my corner market, can you please give me some rhubarb? Something special from your culture?”

    Smoking Allowed, my signature dish–the one served in a smoke-filled jar, is certainly Scandinavian, but it uses ocean trout from Australia.  I wouldn’t be allowed to use a Norwegian salmon for this because of the texture and fat content, I had to test and try to find the right fish.  So that’s why I integrate different foods from different places, to get the best ingredients from where they are in the world.  I buy local, but I don’t buy the typical Asian vegetables.  My fish is imported from Japan or Australia, but a lot of this is because of customer demand, because they want something special, something they cannot find on the streets.

    Cheong’s food is very modern Malaysian: if you’re Malaysian, you might understand where his food is coming from, but you might not like it because it’s not prepared in the traditional ways.  The locals are very protective about how a laksa should be, but every single person makes it a different way.

    My food is a bit more straightforward, it might be refined, but the flavors are very recognizable and familiar.

     

     

    What do you eat when you’re not at work?

    I tend to cook at home on my day off.. I lock myself in my home on my days off.  It’s taken me years to be this relaxed.  Some chefs are all over the place, every two years a new place.

     

    What will you do after you’re finished at Senses?

    Right now Senses and the Hilton here is my plan and my life.  We’re going to renovate, we’re actually going to have a new restaurant and new bar.. this is a hotel that doesn’t stand still.  We’re going to move more towards a western, European restaurant.  When I want to leave again, I will move back to Australia.  I have citizenship there as well.

     

     I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    We met an Executive Chef in Thailand, and he is in charge of managing the chefs but no longer cooks.  Are you cooking still?

    Yes,  we have 160 chefs and 8 outlets at this hotel, so we have an executive chef here too–but I said to myself.. I don’t want that job, I don’t want 220 headaches.  I am spoiled, lucky even, that I am just one head chef in one restauarant.  I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    Was it your dream to become a chef when you were younger?

    Yes, I would say.  I’ve always loved reptiles and fish, so I was interested in marine biology and the like, but cooking was more instantly gratifying and when I was 15, 16 it seemed like an easier choice to study cooking than marine biology.  Since I was young, my  father was an international chef, and I would visit him wherever he was and it was always a kind of holiday to see him cooking on those big cruise ships.  My dad was working as a chef at Carnival cruise ships company when Hurricane Katrina hit.  The company offered to house people for free but they had a huge problem with criminals on board, so he quit and moved to Australia.  I visited him there, just thinking it was a vacation, and I was wowed by all the sunshine.. endless sunshine!  So it made me think, maybe I should study here, so I studied at culinary school there from age 16.  Most of my inspiration came form seeing my dad, working all over the world, traveling.  It all started from there.

     

    I saw you featured on Molecular Gastronomy, can you explain what molecular gastronomy is and how you use it?

    Your basic french training is always in the background in your mind as a chef.  My food, in terms of molecular, is definitely.. well, I spent a month at the Fat Duck with the legendary Heston Blumenthal, and that showed a side of molecular gastronomy that really appealed to me.  Heston’s style is more about time and temperature, and he is very precise with this.  You’re not adding foreign ingredients for a texture that’s not there–the Spanish chefs change a lot of texture: you have a familiar flavor but the texture is strange.  I would love to go and eat it, but it’s not the kind that I enjoy cooking.  Smoking Allowed is vacuum cooking, which is old-fashioned already, but its very precise, and so very fool-proof, so you get a very consistent product every time you do it.  But we haven’t made a trout into a shaving foam texture, so it’s still a fish.  The edible sensibilities comes form my inspiration from Heston.

     

    Who are some of the coolest people you met here?

    Mel Gibson, Louis Hamiltion (he had two-well done tenderloins, french fries and heinz tomato ketchup) because we have the Formula 1 races.  Sebastian Vettel who won Formula 1 for the past two years, he comes every year, I was lucky enough to give him one of my books.

     

    Have you ever had any failures that you felt you could not overcome?

    What can I say.. cooking is very personal, because YOU are the one choosing the ingredients, serving the dish.  Sometimes you care if the guest doesn’t like it because you might believe in it so strongly and like it so much, but after 15 years in the kitchen, I think you learn to be humble.  Not everyone can like what you like.  You have a lot of failures testing recipes, but you test it–if its not good, you don’t serve it.  Testing is a different type of failure–it doesn’t hurt as much.  Being very much hands-on you eliminate a lot of that.  I haven’t had any serious failures I think.  I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     

    For more information on Chef Elfwing and Senses Restuarant, please visit:

    Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel

    3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

    Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    03-2264-2264

     

    Special thanks to Chef Elfwing, the Senses staff, and Sabrina Loh for making this happen.

    
    

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  3. What Is Malaysian Food?

    April 7, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Malaysia is a huge mixing pot of cultures, with such large populations of immigrants that Chinese and Indian food can be considered typical Malaysian food.

    Nasi Kandar is a really popular dish here in Kuala Lumpur and throughout Malaysia: it’s basically rice served buffet-style with different curries, vegetables, noodles, and other sides.  ”Nasi” means rice and “kandar” is the pole that vendors use on their shoulders to balance two buckets of rice.  One heaping plate of warm delicious-ness that leaves you feeling like passing out costs a whopping 6 or 7 Ringgits (USD $2).  Basically its heaven.

    Today, my Polish couchsurfing hosts Magda & Jurek took me to their favorite Nasi Kandar restaurant, and I spoke with the owner, Norshaw Izzarudin and her son Raffik.  Raffik’s brother in law is the chef and it’s a family business through-and-through.

    They’ve been running the business for 7 years, which, like most similar establishments, has no name or address.  However, just because they’re not on Google Maps doesn’t mean business isn’t booming.. its a friendly neighborhood shack and the locals use their hands to eat (according to Magda it tastes better this way).  A nice cold Lime Ice Tea helps wash down the spicy chilis peppered throughout the curries while you sweat in the shade, karaoke from the wedding accross the street filling your ears.

    My favorite dish was Pajeri Nanas (pineapple curry) and Raffik’s is Siakap (fish with coconut milk and chili).

    For dessert, we headed right next door to the women cooking up a storm.  Colorful squishy blobs made of sticky rice, tapioca, and flour confused but delighted my taste buds.

    The photos might do the whole experience more justice: