Genevieve McGough is a chef from Auckland New Zealand who I met on line and have been helping with some marketing ideas for her recipe web site. She has 15 years experience in professional cookery and is a self taught photographer who photographs as well as food styles every dish on her web site, Genevieve's Cuisine. Here's what she says about her inspiration for her web site and why her food writing differs from others;
"I have spent many hours myself searching the internet for recipe ideas and became tired of wading through hundreds of recipes on huge sites that require there own search engines they are so huge just to find one worth printing. I thought to myself why can't every recipe be worth printing after all it isn't the volume of recipes that give you a good culinary site, it's the quality."
Check out Genevieve's recipe for Red Curry and Coconut Soup with Ginger Chicken and Coriander Dumplings. It's a good one!
Did you cook growing up?
I did. As a very young child I would strive to make coconut ice and fudge better than my sister. By the time I got to cooking class in school I was pestering the teachers constantly for information that they just didn't have. I was sat down and told I was too demanding but oddly this didn't happen in any other class. My parents both worked so I would cook dinner for them and I loved to buy and read cook books.
Genevieve's New Cookbook
Basic But Brilliant
What made you decide you would become a professional cook?
I remember a child's book called "little Richard ', in the book the two characters made biscuits and those biscuits looked pretty good. But I had no recipe, so I just made them up and they worked! I don't think they where all that nice to eat but they smelt great. I was about 13 and hooked.
Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
I worked for my first two years in the best catering company in Auckland. The food was upmarket and stunning. The chef was in his element at this time, I was most fortunate.
As cooking school didn't accept you until you had completed 2000 hours in a pro kitchen I started as a dish washer. I worked for eight months on dishes in a separate room glimpsing at the food when ever I could. They new I was keen and I was promoted to chef helping out at functions and basic prep. I was in heaven at this stage; I had never tasted or seen food like this in my life.
The personalities of the chefs were difficult at the best of times. I wasn't good at sticking up for myself yet. I remember one time we started at 6am without breakfast. It was Christmas and the work load seemed impossible. At 12.30pm I grabbed a chicken drumstick, ran outside and took a bite of it. The chef saw, followed me out at screamed at me" ÏT'S NICE SOME OF US HAVE TIME TO EAT", I was mortified and only 17 years old.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely, some of the treatment you get is shocking but you take the best traits from the best chefs and strive to work those techniques into everything you do. Even the terrible chefs I have worked with have helped make me the person I am today as they showed me how not to behave.
Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
Keep reading cook books not just the recipe but the chef's notes so you can understand the concept and history of the dish. If you can learn about how the chef thinks as well as why he likes it you will learn twice as much.
Best cooking tip for a novice?
Seasoning is the key to tasty food. Even when you make a leaf salad, season the leaves with a little salt and you will notice immediately the difference. Always taste before you serve. In my recipes I measure the seasoning so you don't have to worry but you still need to take notice for when you try your own creations.
Believe it or not one of my favourite gadgets is a domestic electric coffee grinder as they only have a small space for grinding making it perfect for ingredients like spices, rock salt and dried lime leaves etc.
Funniest kitchen incident?
Larder chef places a pot of sugar on the stove top and heads off over the road to the butcher! She must have gotten into some conversation over there because she didn't come back in time to save the caramel. Enter the head chef owner AKA the beast. "What's black and sits on my stove top"! Immediately I avert my eyes and pretend I was never born. Cursing, the beast heads for a bowl of hot water from the tap.
Unfortunately the day before the hot water temperature was turned up. The beast finds this out just as he reaches the pot and a little of the water touches his fingers. Ahh #!$$*! Having burnt his fingers on the water the beasts body jerks and a little of the water falls into the stinking hot caramel. causing . a jet of steam to shoot up and scold his other hand. tipping the other side of the bowl . as more water splashes into the burnt sugar. a nasty chain reaction occurs. J!#^*! CH+!?*! . Another shoot of stinking hot steam with bits of caramel hits the first hand. he pulls away.and the bowl tumbles down his front with the rest of the water burning his unmentionables. holy m*!?*! of #!!
At this stage being the only witness on the scene I was trying not to let my face contort with hysterical laughter and as a result I was half bent over holding my mouth. Laughter is contagious and the beast declared "well you wouldn't read about it" (censored version) and burst out laughing. * No one was permanently damaged during the events of this story.
Favorite food to cook with?
I'm largely on my own here but I just love salmon. What other meat can you hot smoke, cold smoke, cure, poach, bake, sashimi, panfry, roast and more. While you can do this with other meat, salmon always comes out looking like a special occasion all on its own. Where's the champagne! When people say "I don't like salmon", I believe this comes from a straight pan seared piece of fish and I don't like this either. Salmon takes on the flavours of other ingredients exceptionally well while retaining a smooth flaky texture. Yum!
When at home, what do you like to eat?
Well my food from my web site goes down a treat, there is nothing like experimenting on your self with food. But I do try to stay healthy and eat lots of salads and meats. I'm quite fond of crackers but no carbs after 5pm.
Thanks for the interview - RG