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The Book


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The Book


Food. Travel. Photography. That’s the order they came in. These passions grew into preoccupations and, with sweat, curiosity and drive, have now become The Stranded Chef.

This book has been years in the making but has been a dream since childhood when I used to flick through my mother’s cookbooks marvelling at the beautiful pictures. I was four years old when my family packed up and travelled through Asia and Europe for one year. My father took our photos with a Pentax film camera. I still pull out the old albums to browse and remember during my visits home.

The following are excerpts from The Stranded Chef

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Candy making in Burma


Candy making in Burma


Candy making in Burma

Shortly after arriving in Yangon (Myanmar/Burma), I sat in a busy teahouse drinking a cup of local tea (fermented with sweetened condensed milk) reading a travel guide. Two English tourists walked in and, looking from side to side, they realised there were no free tables so asked if they could join me. Over a few more cups of tea we swapped a few travel stories. As a chef I naturally asked them if they knew of any good food markets I could visit. They told me of a few markets in Yangon, but one of their highlights was a factory in Mandalay that made sugar-cane candy.

Not knowing where the factory was I approached a motorbike taxi driver and asked if he knew of the sugar-cane factory. He looked at me with a blank face and shook his head. Unimpressed with his slightly rude manner I moved on to the next driver. He didn’t know either, but tried to persuade me to go on a journey around the city with him. Keen on the factory I declined and moved on to the next driver, who also didn’t know.

Tired and disappointed I decided to head back to the guesthouse. On the way home I stopped by a local bar. Being a solo traveller I asked two local guys if I could join their table. They accepted and offered me a glass of neat whisky directly out of an already half-drunk bottle. Even knowing how potent the local whisky was, I accepted a glass. (I wouldn’t want to appear rude!) We got talking. In broken English, they asked me the usual questions like where I was from, if I had children and how long I would be in Mandalay. I answered politely in English and the international language of hand gestures.

After chatting for a while I realised their bottle of whisky was empty and decided to buy them another. Before long the drinks were flowing steadily as the whisky started to numb the throat and went down a little easier.

Two bottles down and slurring, I decided I’d better get back to the guesthouse before they opened yet another bottle. As I was leaving I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if they knew of the sugar-cane factory. One of the men looked at me with a strange and confused expression and, surprisingly, said yes. Not understanding why I would want to go to such a place, he kindly offered to take me on the back of his scooter.

Even though he was drunk, I said yes because I knew this could be my last opportunity so, saying goodbye to his friend, I jumped on the back of his scooter. With the whisky wafting off the man in front of me, I started to think this may not have bean the smartest idea. We took off at a fast pace ...

To be continued in The Stranded Chef.

 

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New Discoveries


New Discoveries


It’s no surprise that I found Lord Howe Island, or perhaps the island found me. It is an adventurer’s paradise – a remote south Pacific island where the landscape changes every minute with the light. Since 1997 I have cooked at a five-star resort for nine months of the year then explored the rest of the world in the off-season.

The Stranded Chef is greatly influenced by the fresh produce sourced from Lord Howe. Seafood, fruit and vegetables grown in pristine waters or rich volcanic soils untouched by the worries of modern living. Although I love balancing myriad flavours and textures, many times the best method is to simply let your fresh produce do the talking.

Not your conventional cookbook, The Stranded Chef combines tall tales with images that tell tales of their own and 70 recipes in a book designed to inspire audacious dreams, be they physical, imagined or culinary. Go on – dream your wildest dream and go for it.