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Talking organic with Kylie Kwong

MiNDFOOD chats with chef, restaurateur, TV host and cookbook author Kylie Kwong about her favourite organic produce and vision for Australian modern cuisine.

Talking organic with Kylie Kwong

For its fifth incarnation the Organic Expo will once again return to the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne from 24 to 26 July.

The expo is an idea opportunity to try many of the finest organic products on the market in Australian, including award winning wines and fresh produce. What’s more visitors can learn from those-in-the-know with demonstrations by celebrity chefs Kylie Kwong and Toby Puttock of Fifteen restaurant fame. Gardening Australia presenter Jerry Coleby-Williams will also be on hand to answer all your green gardening questions.

MiNDFOOD chats with chef, restaurateur, TV host and cookbook author Kylie Kwong about her favourite organic produce and vision for Australian modern cuisine.

What do you have planned for this year’s Organic Food Expo?

I am not sure yet! I will see what is freshest the week of the expo, but there will obviously be a Chinese influence throughout the two demonstrations and the recipes will be simple. For me, it is all about showcasing everyday, ordinary, humble ingredients, which become extraordinary, when they are harvested naturally and with mindfulness.

Do you regularly use organic produce in your kitchen?

I only ever use locally grown, organic and biodynamic produce, in my home and in my restaurant.

What is you signature dish for this season?

White-Cooked Free Range Chicken, with Ginger, Spring Onions and Coriander.

What ingredients are you loving right now? Why?

Saskia  Beer’s free range Barossa Valley chickens which are fed on a 100 per cent vegetarian diet. Never before have I come across such luscious, juicy, tender, flavoursome birds. They are fantastic for the Chinese kitchen as they have a beautiful thick skin due to the fact that they are allowed to grow to a mature age, and because they are able to run around freely in the outdoors. There is no comparison.

What’s harder: cooking for fussy eaters or appearing on TV? Why?

Neither is harder than the other – I think it all depends on one’s mood at the time. Everything becomes hard for me when I am in a negative state of mind, yet when I feel positive, everything is enjoyable and comes easily.


Outside of the kitchen, which talent would you most like to have? Why?

I would love to be able to sing! Singing is so good for you! Every cell in my body seems to expand and open after a good singing session. I like the way singing can heighten my energy and mood and I love the fact that the ability to sing ( no matter whether if its terribly off key! ) is always within you, inside of you, no matter where you are or who you are.

If you were to cook a meal for a renowned statesman (perhaps Barack Obama) what would you make to show off the finest Australian produce and cuisine?

I would probably serve freshly shucked oysters to begin. Their fresh oceanic flavour directly reflects Australia’s super clean, pristine waterways.

Next I’d serve sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish  (from South Australia) and Petuna Ocean Trout (from Tasmania) with a ginger, tamari and extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette to demonstrate the mindful, ethical and sustainable practices of some of our more superior aquaculture specialists.

Following this I would serve an organic carrot, pickled beetroot and biodynamic egg salad, which would reflect the fact that beautiful food is all about humble ingredients grown naturally and cooked simply.

Next I would offer a steamed fillet of Bass Groper dressed in ginger and shallot, which reflects the strong Chinese influence within Australian culture and cuisine. I would team this with a dish of roasted biodynamic beef fillet dressed with shallot, coriander, ginger, tamari, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, thus providing an example of the type of produce Australia’s superb sustainable beef farmers can provide.

I would end with a fresh green garden salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon. I use extra virgin olive oil in my Chinese cooking because I feel it marries with tamari and brown rice vinegar very well, and also because of the enormous impact the Italian culture has had on Australia.

What is your greatest extravagance in the kitchen?

My bottomless 1.5 litre bottle of Nolans Rd Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I would like to think that through my restaurant, my books and my TV series, I have helped to spread the word about the importance of eating ethically and sustainably, and about the importance of food and family within the Chinese culture.

What’s your ideal meal to cook at home on a Sunday?

Roasted Free Range Chicken served with fresh green salad.


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