Elisa Bray
Elisa Bray

In five bites

What is your first ever food memory?

It would be making cakes in the kitchen with my mum. On a Saturday or Sunday we’d be experimenting, trying out different recipes. I learnt from basic cookery books and children’s cookery books. I love baking.

If I'm not in the kitchen/field/making, you'd find me…

On my laptop looking at new ideas for my food business or visiting food events, like the foodie festival I attended that inspired me to get a stall and sell cakes. I’m always looking at the latest trends and the competition – the food industry has become very competitive as people are now seeing the value of food. When I first started, no one wanted to be a chef. It’s hard work, you’re slogging it. People looked down on chefs – it was a very low grade kind of job. But chefs are valued staff now - it’s become very glamorous.

Guilty pleasure food combination?

Cheese and roasted peppers. I just love cheese, especially cheddar and parmesan. Peppers are a very versatile vegetable, you can put them in rice, in a salad, and you can even put them in a pastry dish.

Your best kitchen hack/trick?

I like doing my prep in advance so I get up at about 5am. When you have a lot going on, it’s a must. At the end of the day, when you’re a chef you have to be prepared for anything. Things can go wrong and you really have to know how to deal with it, so I always like to be prepared in the kitchen. I always like to know what’s going on, what is ahead or how to organise myself in case there’s a situation that goes wrong. Working as a chef for a number of years, I know it’s best to clean as you go; you don’t want to be caught out as you’ll be the one to suffer.

One chef, one drink. Who and what?

Lorraine Pascale, and a nice strawberry cocktail. I’ve been a chef for most of my life and I admire how Lorraine transitioned from being a model to a chef. Her cooking’s very simple, but I admire the professional way she does things: the way she presented her recipes when she was on television, and her work ethic. She did a lot of family dishes, casseroles, roast dishes, and I like hearty food. I don’t really the dishes where you get two pieces of something on a plate - it can’t fill you up. That’s not my type of thing at all!

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