This is what the greatest chefs in the world cook at home

When you're famous for creating incredibly delicious, sometimes cerebrally-challenging food, what do you prepare for yourself?

That's the question thrown out to some of the world's best chefs who descended upon Margaret River last weekend to take part in the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape – a multisensory overload of flavours and immersive dining experiences in partnership with Audi.

The two-minute man

It's a query that has Merivale's Dan Hong chuckling, like he's about to make a confession that could undo years of image building.

"My guilty pleasure is instant noodles," he says.

"There are some really good Korean instant noodles out there and what I like to do is add some vegetables from the fridge along with some chicken or beef, and add all this to my noodles. It's sort of like pimping my noodles with the benefits of healthier stuff."

But Hong, who heads the multi-hatted restaurant Mr Wong, is quick to add that any man worth his pink Himalayan salt should have mastered at least one dish in the kitchen.

"Protein," he quips.

"It's always good to know how to cook protein. If you spend all this money on a beautiful dry-aged rib-eye you don't want to mess that up ... it's sort of an insult to the butcher who hung it up and took all that time to develop the flavour."

Finger on the pulse

It's a skill-set that French-born Guillaume Brahimi agrees with. "Knowing how to cook protein, you are so spot on."


Brahimi, who made Sydney's Bennelong a coveted destination for food lovers before branching out to open his own line of eponymous restaurants, laments the lack of patience people have to master this detail.

"You go to people's houses and it's quite trendy now to buy from boutique butchers, but then they just don't know what to do with it."

And the trick to getting the perfect meat? Brahimi suggests getting tactile.

"Touch your meat. It's very simple, as you're cooking – touch it. It's not rocket science."

The traditionalist

Ashley Palmer-Watts may possess less of the frenetic energy of colleague Heston Blumenthal, but the English chef comes to the event with the same level of creative passion.

Currently executive chef of the Fat Duck Group, Palmer-Watts says that the mystery surrounding cooking is just nuts and bolts.

"It's all about knowledge at the end of the day, isn't it? Just pick up a book and getting into someone who's food you love – master it once and you're good."

Of course, someone who works at a restaurant with two Michelin stars would say that.

But at home on the weekends, Palmer-Watts prefers to keep it traditional. "Sundays at our house, the kids love a roast – roast potatoes, extra puddings, chicken gravy ... if my son doesn't have a roast on Sundays he gets really disappointed."

Keep it fun

One of the biggest drawcards this year was the arrival of May Chow, who was named Asia's Best Female Chef for her street-food inspired restaurant Little Bao in Hong Kong.

Chow's approach to food is a fusion of heritage flavours in a modern American diner experience.

Interestingly, her approach to cooking is as much inspired by what she wants to wear to dinner as the food itself. "I'm lucky enough to have opened my third restaurant, which is a little more sophisticated and intellectual, but still really fun. I can still turn up wearing neon colours, and sneakers. Because food should be fun!"

It's a philosophy that she carries back home with her as well: "If we were to hang out, I'd be like 'throw that on the BBQ'. And I would probably burn it a little too, because if it's a little charred that's nice."

But Chow's personal recommendation? Get your wanton on.

"My Chinese mum stacks frozen hand-made dumplings in the freezer. All you do is take a boiling pot of water, and throw them in. Ladle that water into a bowl, add soy sauce add chilli, sesame oil and that's the base of a wanton soup. They keep for months, they're great for snacks, they're great hangover cures – my freezer is literally always stacked with dumplings."

A joker in the pack

Comedian Matt Okine confesses that he may not be as deft in the kitchen as some of the other personalities at Gourmet Escape, but he still has some tricks up his sleeve.

"Back when I wasn't working as much as I am now, I had a lot of time on my hands ... I would watch a lot of Huey's Cooking Adventures. I saw him once and I kept staring at him and I think I over-stared because as I left the building he went 'g'day mate'."

But Okine's dish of choice to serve is a relatively solid staple – pasta. Namely, a spaghetti bolognaise.

"I can BBQ a steak pretty damn well but it's gotta be a spag bol. One because you can feed a million people with it and next, because the best gift you can give someone is the gift of food. And the secret to a great spag bol is a big, ol' knob of butter in the end."

The writer attended the Gourmet Escape as a guest of Audi.