I first posted this interview with super chef Guillaume Brahimi when his cookbook Guillaume: Food For Friends was published.
I visited Bennelong just before he closed the doors for the final time and had a bowl of his amazing, silken mash.
The dish reminded me how everyone really should know how to make this mash. Guillaume said: “This was inspired by the mash at Joel Robuchon’s Jamin restaurant, where I worked for four years. I dubbed my version ‘Paris mash’ as I thought it had a nicer ring than plain old ‘mash potato’. Now I am amazed to see it named this way on so many other menus! It has been described as ‘creamy and dreamy’ and has convinced many a diner to abandon their diet for just one more delicious mouthful”.
It’s a Bucket List dish . Just do it.
You have blended home and food in this book – what was the thought process behind it?
The book was really my wife Sanchia’s idea. I never was very interested in doing a straight cooking book. She came up with the concept of combining beautiful pictures of special homes with the different ways we eat and entertain.
I’ve always loved looking at beautiful pictures of houses – it made sense to me to combine it with my other passion.
Everything in the book is real – we cooked, ate and shot in real time – just how it happens when there are no cameras around.
Who are the recipes for? Professional or Rookie?
I wanted to show how we eat as a family, how we entertain with friends and how different that is to how I cook in the restaurants. I enjoy simple cooking as much as I do cooking under the pressure of a working kitchen.
When people come to the restaurants they’re always asking to see inside the kitchen – the book lets you go inside them and tackle some true restaurant level recipes – if that’s what you want to try.
But there’s also a recipe for a smoothie that a child could make. It was important for me to offer a range – so that no matter what your level of interest in cooking there is a dish that will excite you.
All proceeds from the book go to The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA Foundation…
Chris was a mentor, friend, brother and he is with me always. He was an incredibly unique man. While he was still alive, I worked alongside him to raise funding for the facility at RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney) and will continue to work without him here until we’re done.
The day Chris told me had a brain tumor was the day I decided to do this book. He gave it a true purpose.
Five key ingredients everyone needs in their kitchen.
Easy. Butter, very good extra virgin olive oil, a quality vinegar (red wine or balsamic) salt and pepper. These are the ingredients that enhance every dish and make them great. I can’t cook without them.
What is your favourite, can’t-live-without herb?
I love basil but since you’re making me choose I would have to say parsley. It is the one I use the most and for many things. There is nothing better at the end of a dish than some fresh parsley – it’s just wonderful.
Desert island kitchen utensil?
A good knife. Cutting is not hard if the knife is good, in fact it’s quite enjoyable – but nothing is worse than a blunt knife and struggling with a vegetable. Everyone needs a good knife in their kitchen.
Best advice for rookie cooks?
Shop in season. If you want to try a certain recipe, keep an open mind when you go to the market.
Cook asparagus when it’s beautiful and crunchy – otherwise, don’t do it. If you want to try and cook my basil-infused tuna make sure the tuna is sashimi-grade quality otherwise, don’t do it. Choose what is fresh and the dish will always be good.
Every chef will tell you: If the produce isn’t right to start with then the recipe never will be.
CLICK TO BUY: Guillaume: Cooking With Friends, $79.95
4 large desiree potatoes (approximately 600 g in total)
fi ne sea salt
200 ml milk
250 g cold unsalted butter, diced
Place the unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan and cover
with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil,
then reduce the heat and simmer for 25–30 minutes.
(Test the potatoes by piercing them with a sharp knife.
If they are ready, the blade will come out clean with no
residue.) Drain well.
Peel the potatoes while they are still hot, using a tea towel
to protect your hands. Pass the peeled potatoes through
a fi ne sieve into the same saucepan. Use a wooden spoon
to stir the mash until all the moisture is removed (you
want the potato to be dry to the touch).
Bring the milk to the boil, then reduce the heat to
a simmer. Place the mash potato over low heat and add
50 g of butter, stirring until combined. Add 50 ml of milk
and stir until combined. Repeat until all of the butter and
milk has been added and the mash is creamy and light.
Season with salt to taste.
Place the mash on a serving plate and use a dessertspoon
to achieve a wavy effect, as shown. Serve immediately.