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Interview: Gabriel Gate – heavily accented French desserts

Become a French patissier: WIN 1 of 3 copies of '100 Best Cakes & Desserts' - My French Life - Ma Vie Francaise - www.myfrenchlife.org.jpg

Gabriel Gate is one of Australia’s most loved chefs, TV personalities and cookbook writers.

Luckily for us he has recently released a delectable new book, ‘100 Best Cakes and Desserts’. I spoke with Gabriel about his new book, the importance of teaching your kids how to cook and how to be a master baker.

Penny Moodie - Interview: Gabriel Gate – heavily accented French desserts -My-French-Life-Ma-Vie-Francaise-www.myfrenchlife.org_.jpg

You wrote your last book of desserts 15 years ago, how does this one differ?
This book is all about making the most of fresh ingredients. I feel like in Australia we do not use enough fresh fruit. When you order a dessert at a restaurant there is never much fruit, like cherries or mangoes, which is a shame. When you use seasonal fruits they are very affordable.

You’re a prolific writer, with 22 cookbooks under your belt, and over 1 million copies sold.

With your yearly Gourmet Tours of France, your presenting role on SBS’s ‘Taste of Le Tour’, and your many speaking engagements, how do you find the time?
Writing a book is a beautiful exercise and an evolution in itself. You have to do lots of research, testing and constantly have to learn new techniques. It’s almost like doing a PhD; you have to come up with something new and exciting. But cooking is something that is yours and that is why it is so special.

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Cooking is obviously influenced by location and local ingredients. How much has your French culinary background affected your everyday cooking?
I worked as an apprentice in the Loire Valley where all the ingredients used were always fresh and local. I then went to Paris to work at a Seafood restaurant, and from all of these experiences I learnt about many aspects of cooking and various skills, which I rely on and use to this day.

Do you still think of France as home? Or is Melbourne now home for you?
In some ways I have two homes. My life is in Australia and I have been here for 35 years. But in my heart I will always be French, since that is where I was brought up.

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Who has been the most important influence in your life in relation to your cooking?
Probably my grandmother. When we were growing up she was living with us and she was always the chief cook. She had been a cook herself and she was always encouraging us to cook. She was a lovely woman.

How important is it to pass on your cooking skills to the next generation?
It is so important for a number of reasons. Firstly, cooking is a wonderful skill to have. It is so essential to be able to control what you are eating and that’s very hard to do that if you are always eating out. Secondly, sharing is an integral part of life. It’s not always easy to make time to share your skills and teach your kids, but it’s important to encourage them.

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What would be your advice for someone who has attempted baking a number of times, but keeps failing miserably? Are there only so many times you can blame the oven?
With cakes it’s important to understand how they come together. It’s kind of like mixing concrete. My advice would be the following:

  1. Get a mixer.
  2. Allow yourself enough time. You are never going to be able to cook a cake in 45 minutes if it says 1 hour in the recipe. You can’t cut corners in baking.
  3. Most importantly, you have to be kind to yourself! People are too hard on themselves. When you play golf for the first time will you hit the ball perfectly each time? Cook the same recipe three times within a month and you will master it.

Thank you Gabriel, for speaking with MaVieFrançaise®. It was wonderful getting to know more about you, and your latest book.

All images courtesy of Hardie Grant Publishing.


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