Stephanie Alexander is a renowned culinary expert; you must have seen her shows and sensational cameos on television. She has been a Guest Judge at Masterchef Australia, she is also a noted author, but most importantly, she is a fan of flavours, and it is this zeal that has made her travel the world in search of stories and inspirations. She came to India a while back where we caught up with her at Shangri-La Hotel, Connaught Place, New Delhi. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
1. What brings you here?
I’m here with the University of Melbourne in order to do my bit to tell prospective students what a wonderful place Melbourne is and how much I know they’re really going to enjoy being there.
2. What inspired you to cook and think of a career in this realm.
My mother was my main inspiration and she both cooked well and thought a lot about food and its place as a carrier of culture. She was very interested in cooking from other countries and so I was brought up to know that there was always one way of doing something.
But I didn’t think of a career in the industry, in fact, I trained as a librarian! And was very happy in that career. It was only really later on that my hobby of cooking was able to be turned into a profession.
3. An Indian dish you swear by?
I love dal and I’ve had various versions of it, both in India and other places around the world. I’ve cooked many myself and it seems capable of infinite variation but always comforting.
4. A healthy food choice that changed your life
I’ve always most enjoyed fresh food and as far as I’m concerned that qualifies as good and healthy food, no matter what it is.
5. The most bizarre request you have heard from a diner
I can’t think of many bizarre requests but something I think restaurant diners exceed what it’s expected from a client by asking you to distort a dish that you’ve created in a certain way.
I once had a very famous guest that shall remain nameless come to my restaurant and order a very delicate souffle;…and then ask for the chili! And I thought that was inappropriate…and didn’t give it to them!
6. An overrated food trend we can get rid of
I think molecular gastronomy, apart from a few brilliant, unique individuals is something that mostly we can forget!
7. What is the most versatile ingredient according to you? Or an ingredient you love working with?
Australian extra virgin olive oil. It’s absolutely wonderful and it’s readily available, it is fresh and as opposed to other olive oils that are imported into Australia, which are by definition always at least one year old and often two.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.