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Updated: December 25, 2013 20:29 IST

Flavours without favours

OSAMA JALALI
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TASTE MAKER: Julie Le Clerc
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TASTE MAKER: Julie Le Clerc

Julie Le Clerc creates innovative but uncomplicated dishes. The acclaimed chef from New Zealand is now working on an Indian travel book

There is always something unique about the visiting expat guest chefs. Recently I attended a chefs table at Élan, The Lodhi with guest Chef Julie Le Clerc and really, some of her delicacies impressed me a lot. Particularly interesting was cous cous salad which was a great innovation wherein the core ingredient cous cous was replaced by cauliflower yet the essence and texture of the salad remained the same. Though it was a simple salad yet I could feel the motherly warmth and love in it which is mostly missing from a male chef’s preparation. Chef Julie is from New Zealand and might have learnt to cook formally at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu London but her skills are rooted in the genes, she has acquired from her mother, who was a professional baker.

Chef Julie is not only a seasoned chef but is a bestselling cook book author too and has written cookery books like “Julie Le Clerc’s Favourite Cakes Made by Hand - Natural food to nourish and delight”, “Made in Morocco”, “Simple Cafe Food”, “At Home with Love”. She is also the food editor for Next Magazine, New Zealand and is a travel writer, photographer, food writer, food stylist, TV chef and presenter of Café Secrets. The best part about her cooking is that she likes to stick to the basics and innovate rather than do fusion and create a confusing dish.

The other salad which Chef Julie prepared was a green beans, cherry tomato, orzo salad with a parsley pesto dressing. Orzo, a variant of pasta bound the flavours well while the pesto gave the salad a nice zing. My cooking session with Chef Julie would have been incomplete without learning a dessert from her. As she loves to make cakes her signature chocolate, carrot cake was a simple and flavourful preparation. Unlike a cup cake which is most of the times very dry, Chef Julie’s creation was moist and subtle. Fresh cream dressing elevated the taste of the cake and gave it the much needed creaminess. Give her some objects and she can turn the cakes into a visual treat too using those. This is her fourth visit to India and over the past three months she has been travelling and doing research on various regions like Goa, Rajasthan, Kerala exploring their local cuisines for her upcoming Indian travel book which will include recipes from the local cooks and from Chef Ritesh Negi, Executive Chef, The Lodhi.

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