Khoo-king Around the Globe | Verve Magazine
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March 17, 2016

Khoo-king Around the Globe

Text by Wyanet Vaz

Fashion PR-turned-chef, Rachel Khoo talks about cooking in Melbourne, her adventures with food and where she picks her dresses from!

Popularly known as ‘vintage Nigella’, TV chef Rachel Khoo has taken over the culinary scene with her infectious enthusiasm, and polka-dot tea dresses. Like a cross between Amelie and Julia Child, the food star brings much excitement to everyday cooking, After presenting BBC’s The Little Paris Kitchen, she explored the lush foodscape of Melbourne with her series Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Diaries: Melbourne. Her recently launched online lifestyle portal titled Khoollect, is also a travelogue and talks about locally produced ingredients.

While we’re inquisitive about her vintage fix, favourite designers and love for red lipstick (she uses Tom Ford’s Cherry Lush lipstick most of the time), we also quiz her about her cooking adventures, and evident love for food…

Cruising into cooking: “It’s always been one of my passions. When it comes to food I’m far more interested in hanging out with a grandma in a basic home kitchen than some Michelin starred chef. And I love hearing people’s stories about food.”

Culinary journey: “I was studying at a design university, but also had an assistant job working on food shoots. I loved working on food images to create delicious looking dishes for magazines and newspapers. After I graduated I wasn’t able to get a paid job in food styling so I moved to Paris to study patisserie at culinary school.”

Favourite food memory: “I remember baking gingerbread people with a school friend and my mum when I was about six.”

An Australian hideout: “Melbourne has such a wide choice of amazing quality Asian restaurants so it’s hard to pick a few. I love Little Vietnam with their fantastic Pho places. When we filmed at Lentil (you pay what you think the food is worth), we discovered they had cooks from Sri Lanka who made mouthwatering dosas and lentil curry.”

Take-away ingredients from down under: “I did try some native ingredients like lemon myrtle (herb which has a fresh lemon-lime flavour), finger limes (a lime which has a caviar-like interior) and salt bush (which you can use for stir fries).”

The cool factor about Australian cuisine: “I love the way there’s a big influence from all the different immigrants in Australia – Italians, Vietnamese, Greeks, Chinese… the list goes on. It makes the food vibrant and fresh. And since the immigrants have made Australia their home, they’ve taken on the local ingredients, to create their own style of cooking.”

Favourite places to eat…anywhere in the world: “Some of the best places I’ve eaten at, are in people’s homes. However in London, I love The Clove Club, Polpetto, Ducksoup and Koya. In Paris, there is Bistro Paul Bert, Le Baratin and Chez Aline.”

Personal style: “I don’t really have a favourite as I tend to mix second hand, vintage, high street with the odd discounted designer buy. I have quite a few dresses from Mrs Pomeranz, a Russian designer who sources vintage fabrics.”

Meal served up at a home gathering: “I usually look in the fridge and see what I can create. I love slow cooked stuff, and food that I can chuck into the oven. Basically food that requires as little effort as possible. The egg and bacon bread bake I make in the RKKN: Melbourne is a good example. It uses ingredients you always have in the fridge and are easy to put together.”

Favourite recipe from your cookbook: “The anzac tacos with quick banana ice cream.”

Favourite comfort food: “I love my mum’s rendang curry (A must when I go home to visit).

From writing cookbooks to The Little Paris Kitchen and now a TV series and lifestyle portal…
“It’s been an amazing journey, a real rollercoaster ride. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I’ve ended up doing some great projects. Right now I have launched my own online lifestyle magazine, Khoollect. I’m really excited about exploring other creative avenues and my food career has enabled me to do so!”

Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Melbourne airs on TLC every Monday to Friday at 8pm. 

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