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Food

ZUMBO

Adriano Zumbo has taken desserts from the final course to the star of the menu. now he’s taking Sweets to the next level with his own TV show.

It seems like only yesterday that Adriano Zumbo was introduced to the world via his amazing croquembouche creation on MasterChef. Since then, he’s become a household name. His Zumbo patisseries have popped up all over the country, he’s had successful cookbooks, magazines covers (including two spectacular ones with Selector) and now has his own TV show.

His story is well known. His Italian-born parents ran the local supermarket in Coonamble, in the mid-west of New South Wales. As a bright-eyed boy endowed with the wonderment of Willy Wonka, one of his heroes, the confectionary aisle is where Zumbo developed his love for all things sweet.

He moved to Sydney at the tender age of 15 to start an apprenticeship with stints at Georges and Neil Perry’s Wokpool before heading to Europe for the World Pastry Cup to train in some of the best culinary institutions in Paris. After a few jobs back home, he took the plunge and opened his own shop in the Sydney suburb of Balmain in 2007. It’s been full steam Zumbo ever since.

Popularity for his croquembouche has been eclipsed by his marvellous and myriad macaroon creations and they are by far the biggest seller at his seven successful Zumbo stores. They are also the focus for his second cookbook, Zumbarons (see his master Zumbaron recipe next page). So with all of this attention, it seems only natural that the next progression was to host his own TV show.

Masterchef Celebrity Pastry Chef Zumbo

ON SCREEN SWEETNESS

Zumbo’s Just Desserts has recently made its debut on Channel Seven. The title of the show has two meanings: a sugary serving of all things sweet, and the culmination of his success. We also play around with the idea of Zumbo getting his just desserts on the cover of this issue, and it is testimony to the fun nature of the 34-year-old that he loved getting cream pies smashed into his face, over and over again.

The TV show is an idea that the network and Zumbo sifted, blended and baked for a year before bringing it to fruition. Only time will tell if the celebrated confectionary creator has the on-screen charisma to match his bedazzling desserts.

To help him steer the small-screen ship, he has the considerable help of two very engaging co-hosts, British TV-host Rachel Khoo and Brazilian-born Sydney-based pastry chef Gigi Falanga. “I am the thorn between two roses,” Zumbo tells me when we catch up for a quick chat before his Selector photoshoot.

“Rachel is a great food personality with her own show and books. She trained in pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, so she has great knowledge of pastries and desserts and it was lots of fun filming with her. Gigi is my assistant and does the one-on-one with the contestants. I have known Gigi for a little while through the pastry scene and she is very talented. She brings a different dimension to the show.”

The format of the show is familiar for those who consume reality TV – a bunch of amateur pastry cooks compete for a cash prize with the added hook of the winner’s dessert sold in Zumbo stores.

Each episode sees contestants have the freedom to create whatever they want within a certain theme. They present their creations to Zumbo and Rachel to taste. The two least favourite go into an elimination test, where they have to re-create a dessert invented by Zumbo himself. A levitating chocolate Wonka hat and a dessert within a dessert within a dessert within a dessert, gives you some idea the level to which these home cooks need to rise to stay on the show.

“I think it (the elimination creation) is something achievable, but still quite difficult,” says Zumbo, playfully. “It requires a lot of multi-tasking and focus in the time frame to put something up to match what I have presented to them. But they are pretty darn good.”

MENTOR AND MUSE

One of the reasons why Zumbo has gained such celebrity is the fact that he is an inspiration to people who love baking and making desserts. It is a concept that he finds both flattering and surreal.

“When I started up I didn’t go out there to inspire others, I just did what I loved and it drew people in,” he says. “I find it quite emotional sometimes when I meet people and they tell me their story and that I am the inspiration. It is pretty special. Another element is that it makes me strive for bigger and better things knowing that I have inspired people.”

And now he is running his own show (both in business and on TV), Zumbo is recognised as true mentor in the industry. "When you mentor someone you definitely need to see something inside of them,” reckons Zumbo. “They have to be able to take positive and negative feedback on board, understand it and act on it. Another important thing is, believing in yourself. People have given me lots of advice over the years. I have always listened and taken it on board. But in some cases, you just have to go with your original feelings.

“It is surprising to find that a lot of people think their creativity is not worthy. They might have an idea, but they don’t have the self belief to put it to the test. Bringing that belief and ideas out of them is what a good mentor does.”

THE NEXT BIG THING

While hosting his own show is pretty big news, Zumbo knows people are expecting him to come up with the next big thing in desserts. He has set up a research and development kitchen to achieve this, but says he doesn’t feel the burden.

“We can always create whatever our imagination desires, getting people to like it is the hard part. But I love trying, and I love what I do, and that is the most important thing for me.”

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Curtis Stone - Inspire To Aspire
Words by Mark Hughes on 4 May 2017
More Often Associated with the TV than the Kitchen, Curtis Stone is proving he is a Chef and Restauranteur to be reckoned with. It may surprise many to learn that Curtis Stone only opened up his first restaurant a few years ago. Not that he intended to wait so long, it's just that he got offered a chance to be in a book, then appear on TV, then co-host a TV show. He's been on our screens ever since. Broad shouldered, blond haired, strong jawed, charismatic and attractive, and a genuinely nice guy. He is perfect for TV. First came Surfing the Menu, with good mate, Ben O'Donoghue. He then hosted the first series of My Restaurant Rules on Channel 7 before going to the States to try his luck with a show called, Take Home Chef. It was a hit, Curtis even more so. He's since appeared on everything from Iron Chef America to Conan O'Brien. He's a regular on Oprah, and Ellen, and even starred on the Celebrity Apprentice with current US President Donald Trump. Australians, too, instantly recognise Curtis, most often as the face of Coles. But somewhere amongst all this glitz and glamour, the identity of Curtis as a chef was lost. We know he can cook flavoursome, everyday meals. His six successful cookbooks confirm this with titles like Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone and What's for Dinner? But can he really cook? Like a top chef? A few impressive performances on cooking shows just wouldn't be enough. To really prove it, Curtis had to open his own restaurant. Curtis' early career suggests he was well on the way to becoming a chef of renown. Completing an apprenticeship at The Savoy in Melbourne, he headed to London with a dream to work for culinary royalty, Marco Pierre White. Curtis met him. Marco liked the ambitious Aussie and put him to work that very day as a chef de partie at Café Royale. Just over a year later, Curtis was sous chef at Marco's Mirabelle when the restaurant won its first Michelin star. The following year, he was made head chef at another of Marco's restaurants, Quo Vadis. Curtis' future in the kitchen seemed bright - but an unexpected TV career burned brighter, while the flame of having his own restaurant always flickered inside. Opening Daze
In February 2014, Curtis opened Maude in Beverly Hills , Los Angeles, an intimate 24-seat restaurant named after one of his culinary inspirations, his paternal grandmother. For any chef, starting a restaurant invites scrutiny, for Curtis, it was monumental. "I was looking down the barrel because I felt there was a long line of people dying to say, 'He's only a TV guy, just a pretty face, he can't really cook,' because there's a perception that chefs on TV are not real restaurant chefs," admits Curtis when we speak after the Selector photoshoot in LA. "Also, on a personal note, the kitchen had changed a lot in the six or so years I was out of it - different technology and techniques. Sous vide wasn't something I had done a lot of, there were no isi canisters (foams), no dehydrators - it was a very different environment. Not that I had stopped cooking, I had just stopped cooking in a restaurant. "So I had a challenge: do I ignore it? Or do I go on a journey of learning again? That was more exciting for me, so I rolled my sleeves up and got back to it." Curtis aimed high with Maude: a 10-course degustation menu focused around an item of seasonal produce… Oh, and the menu changes every month. "I call it the creative treadmill, you're just never allowed off the bloody thing," jokes Curtis. "The first week you are teaching everyone what to do on their sections, week two you are dreaming of the new menu but still running the kitchen. Week three you have to perfect everything for the next menu and show it to your wine team, because they need a week to order stuff in, then the last week you are prepping people for what's coming. Then at the end of the month you literally throw it all away and start again. "It is a very exciting restaurant to work in because you are constantly learning, teaching, figuring stuff out, making mistakes, but that is a part of the creative process and it has been so fulfilling." And successful. The ever-evolving menu means regulars keep coming back. New bookings are near impossible. And the critics love Maude, too. The esteemed James Beard Foundation named it one of the Best New Restaurants in the USA. The LA Weekly rated it the Best Restaurant in Los Angeles 2015 with the publication's food critic Besha Rodell gushing, "Maude's seasonal menus have been some of the most subtly thrilling meals I've had in Los Angeles." Ode to Nan
In July last year, Curtis doubled his aspirations and his massive workload, (not withstanding his TV commitments and the fact he has two young sons with wife Lindsay) when he opened his second restaurant, Gwen , named after his maternal nan, in the heart of Hollywood. In many ways, it is the yin to Maude's yang. Where Maude is small, restrained and largely veggie based, Gwen is large, lavish and meaty. Housed in a 1920s art deco building on Sunset Boulevard, the fit out is stunning with a dining room that recalls the golden years of Hollywood. There's an a la carte menu at the bar and a fixed umpteen-course menu in the dining room. Gwen is all at once, a restaurant, a cocktail bar, a patio hang-out, and a butcher shop. Yep, a butcher shop. "It is a pretty special joint," says Curtis, laconically. "Something I always missed in LA was a great butcher shop, and when I say great butcher shop, I mean one that sources game, does whole animal butchery and has different cuts. "My idea was, if you've got a butcher shop and a restaurant, then you can create a use for anything you buy in. I was just in the shop cutting some pheasant terrine for a customer. We bought that pheasant in two days ago and I turned it into a terrine, which I can sell in the shop or in the restaurant. So you never waste anything." Curtis Stone's 80-Day Dry Aged Ribeye with Creamed Corn and Scallions
"We actually have those rib-eyes 80 days in the dry aged room, and we roast it medium rare over the wood burning grill. The creamed corn is this pretty incredible accompaniment. What we do is we take the kernels off and we take the centre of the cobs and we boil the husk of the corn which gives you a really gorgeous corn-flavoured stock and then you bring the corn back up and the corn has a natural thickening quality to it. That is why corn flavour or corn starch is used as a thickening agent. So it will actually thicken on its own. So if you cook it very gently, that juice will thicken and we will do that with the corn so it is this beautiful caramel-y flavour that you can develop into cream corn. And then the spring onions are great for a little crunch and a little richness in terms of the flavour that you get." Wine Match:  A steak dish with this richness of flavour will pair perfectly with a classic Barossan Shiraz.  The Stage Door Front and Centre Shiraz 2015  shows spicy aromas of dark cherry fruit with violet perfume. Juicy yet poised with a supple core of blackberry and plum, hints of toasty oak complexity and a gentle spicy lift. Get Curtis Stone's  80 day dry-aged ribeye with creamed corn and charred scallions recipe here
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