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What were your childhood or earliest ambitions?
I wanted to be a writer when I was seven or eight years old. Then, at the age of 11 or 12, I wanted to become a nun – you are very serious at that age. And then I thought that I want to be a lawyer. This is what I started to study. I got into cooking by accident.
Where did you go to school? Where did you train?
I went to school in Sydney. I got a job washing dishes in a restaurant and fell in love with cooking. I continued to train at the La Varenne school in Paris.
What was the first dish you learned to cook?
Salted perch with lemon mayonnaise. I was probably 15 or 16 years old.
Who was or is your mentor?
I had a lot. Probably the biggest life changer was this really beautiful, energetic, loving Lebanese woman named Layla Sorfi. She owned a restaurant where I washed dishes when I was a teenager. She took me under her wing and boosted my self esteem.
How physically healthy are you?
In good shape and I got better as I got older. I do Pilates five days a week. To do the work I do, I need to be in good shape.
Breakfast or dinner: which one?
Dinner. I have never had breakfast in my entire life. I don’t feel hungry until 4:00 pm.
What technique have you struggled to perfect?
Everything related to confectionery. Baking requires precision and science, and I don’t have the patience. I am much more instinctive.
What would you like to own that you currently don’t have?
A small wooden house on the coast of New South Wales.
What is the happiest aspect of your life right now?
I do what I love every day.
What is your biggest extravagance?
I travel to spend time with my family: I have a daughter in Los Angeles and my family is in Australia.
Do you count food waste?
One hundred percent. We have a menu at Spring called Scratch, made entirely with ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.
What is your guilty pleasure in eating?
Really good sourdough bread, cheese and butter. I love oil.
Where are you happiest?
Who or what makes you laugh?
My youngest daughter is hysterical.
What ambitions do you still have?
I would like to go much further in terms of working with the environment. We are working biodynamically and we are working on a program for young people where they can come and learn how to grow on a farm.
What has been your biggest kitchen disaster?
There have been many in 40 years! A few years ago, I hosted a private dinner party, and when I started pouring soup, I didn’t make enough. I had to put it back on the stove and add water. Half the group got the soup as it should have tasted, and half got what it must have looked like slop.
If your 20 year old me saw you now, what would she think?
I think she would be very happy. Life turned out exactly the way I wanted, and in some ways even better.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with life so far on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?
Eight and three quarters. I am very glad.
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