Friday Foodie In Focus - Young Chef Of The Year, Lauren Eldridge
Meet Lauren Eldridge. You'd be forgiven for not being overly familiar with Lauren....yet. However keep your eyes & ears peeled as this woman is making real waves in the restaurant world. She's also a girl after my own heart with her love for cheese! Lauren, the first ever sole patissier to be awarded the prestige Josephine Pignolet Young Chef Of Year award was born and raised in the leafy suburbs of Sydney. Now part of an elite group of winners including Mark Best (Marque, Sydney), Brett Graham (Ledbury, London) & Daniel Hong (Mr Wongs, Ms Gs) to name a few. Originally choosing Psychology to study, Lauren made a gut steering u-turn and changed course towards hospitality. Starting out in a small patisserie, she transitioned into the pastry section at a high-end catering company before making a career defining move and completing her apprenticeship under Mark Best's leadership at Marque where she held the important role of Head Pastry Chef. Lauren shares with us her first memory in the kitchen, how she feels about being the first ever sole patissier to win this award, her ideal last supper (which of course includes lots of cheese) and admits she has more of a savoury than sweet tooth plus more below:
What's your food philosophy?I believe that food should be conceptual, simple and focused. For me, cooking is about embracing an ingredient, an element or a technique and using science and research to elevate it to its full potential. I don’t think food needs to be expensive or extravagant to be impressive and the skill involved in creating something amazing out of something basic stimulates me. My food is a combination of simplicity and science.
What's your first memory in the kitchen?I remember making cakes and biscuits with my mum and then proceeding to lick the bowl and beaters. That was always the best part. My family also use to hold monthly dinner parties. My brother and I would cook a three course meal with my parents. We ploughed through Women’s Weekly cookbooks, planned the menus together, learnt how too correctly set a table and they taught us how to cook. It is a special memory for me.
Lauren's Chocolate Beetroot & Liqourice
What is your proudest moment or achievement to date?In the past year I have experienced many great moments. Winning the Josephine Pignolet award would be the highlight and I am exceptionally honoured and humbled to be the winner. There is a long list of impressive winners so I’m proud to now be part of that. I also just had the opportunity to travel to India and cook for the charity CSSG which supports unprivileged young females. Meeting the girls and working with them in the kitchen was very inspiring and I was proud to be able to make an impact in their lives.
How do you feel about being the first sole patissier to be awarded the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef Of The Year award?Incredibly excited. There tends to be a divide in kitchens between pastry chefs and savoury chefs. I’d like to think this will help bridge that gap somewhat. I’m happy to be recognised by the industry for being good at what I do.
What is your signature dish?My signature dish is Honeycomb and Cultured Cream. Gourmet Traveller named it on their ‘Hot 100’ list for 2015. It is a fixture on the menu at Marque and indicative of my style. I like to keep things simple. There are only two elements on the plate but each has been pushed to its limit in order to elevate it to the extraordinary. My dishes often have two or three components but each will be researched extensively so that they reach their potential, and of course, so they taste delicious.
Any new & exciting projects on the horizon?My immediate focus is the menu at Marque and using the current momentum to keep things new and exciting. As part of the prize for the Josephine Pignolet award I will be travelling next year so I am in the process of planning that and figuring how best to use my time so I can learn as much as possible. I’m also a finalist for the Gault & Millau ‘Potentialist of the Year’. The prize includes a trip overseas to work in Paris. So fingers crossed I will be involved in that next year.
If you could invite any celebrity/famous person over for dinner who would it be & why?This is really difficult to answer. I have always loved reading so I think I would pick author George Orwell. His books make such an impact and he would clearly have an amazing mind. I think the conversation would be stimulating and I imagine I would learn a lot.
What would your last supper be?
- Entrée I would have a selection of cheese, cured meats and pickles, with crackers and fresh bread. I love anything pickled, salty, sour, tangy or fermented. And who doesn’t love cheese! I would like a really ripe blue, a Pyengana cheddar from Tasmania and Holy Goat from Victoria. All washed down with a glass of champagne and a gin and tonic.
- Main I would have a roast dinner with all the trimmings. It’s simple, delicious and nothing can emulate the nostalgia of a classic family roast. I’d also need a side of fries with plenty of salt. It’s my weakness. If I could survive purely off salty fried potato I would!
- Dessert is a tough one. As strange as it may be, I don’t actually have a massive sweet tooth, I just love to cook sweet things. I recently made a dessert with poached and charred tamarillos served them with vanilla crème anglaise and some honeycomb. I loved the combination of the sour and burnt tamarillo with the rich custard and caramel notes from the honeycomb.
- And for good measure I’d have a big cup of coffee and a super rich chocolate brownie to finish, because hey, it is my last meal after all!
To discover more & connect with Lauren, click below:Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/lauren.eldridge Twitter: https://twitter.com/lauren_eldridge
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