We sat down with the resident chef of The Kitchens, Samantha Gowing and asked her about all things food! Sam gives two demonstrations per day on The Cooking Stage at 11am and 1pm every Thursday, most Saturdays and the occasional Fridays. So before you go see her cook up a storm, read all about the woman behind the food!
- Why did you become a chef?I’ve been cooking since I was six years old. I grew up sitting around the tables of my Dad’s first restaurant in Melbourne, and both he and my Grandmother Evie taught me to cook. When I finished HSC I applied for a job at Wendy’s Hamburgers and was subsequently informed by an employment officer that the hospitality industry was not for me. I ignored this advice and ran front of house for decades, then I retrained as a clinical nutritionist and by 2012 I was asked to be the Head Chef at a health retreat in northern NSW – nearly 30 years since I began my culinary career.
- What should we look forward to this season (autumn produce)?Cauliflower, parsnips and basmati rice feature in my autumn dishes. White foods help to support the lung energy, the dominant organ in autumn according to Chinese medicine. Coming into cold season, chestnuts, aduki beans, quinoa, pumpkin, lima beans, ginger and shiitake mushrooms all have warming properties and may also help to dry our systems of unwelcome cold symptoms.
- What’s your favourite food trend?The push towards clean eating. I’ve spent almost 20 years driving this ‘trend’! It’s been a long time coming.
- What’s your least favourite food trend?Any food or drinks that come in jars, or anything ‘deconstructed’. Like when you have to smash your own avocado on the toast, or assemble your cocktail from a board of ingredients. I can do that at home!
- What’s your late night craving?I don’t really get them, but whenever I am in my hometown of Melbourne I take a trip to the Supper Inn, a late night Chinese restaurant.
- What excites you about food?The great thing about food is that nothing is really new except for how it is presented. Raw ingredients are the same as they were when Mother Nature planted them, it is what we do with them and how we can maximise their flavour and texture that excites me. After 35 years in food, great restaurants still thrill me.
- What tool can’t you live without in the kitchen?A hand held Microplane slicer. I can slice and smile at the crowd at the same time without losing a finger.
- Who’s your celebrity chef crush?
Anthony Bourdain. He cooked me a birthday lunch once at Chef Ray Capaldi’s old restaurant, Fenix, in Melbourne. It was an exclusive event for 9 guests and Ray did most of the cooking while Bourdain did most of the Corona drinking – and swearing!