Monday, 7 December 2009

Marlon’s Carrot Pasta

Cooking staff lunch at Petersham Nurseries Cafe was often left to the regular few, who knew how to do it cheaply and quickly. This, of course, didn’t mean there was no pride to be taken in creating pleasure for hungry waiters and cooks. I loved the kitchen when someone started cooking staff lunch.

Preparing food for people you know is potently different from cooking for strangers. There’s no particular person in mind when cooking for restaurant service. Sure, as Skye would always say to us as we assembled piles of perfect ingredients into salads: ‘imagine that each moment of your plating is a mouthful for someone’. This would remind us that each moment, as it organised itself onto the plate before us, needed to be a perfect combination of flavours. And so it was. Learning how to plate with lightness and sparkle was the most precious technique I took with me from that kitchen.

But cooking for people you know involves more than just perfect construction. When done well, that lightness of touch turns on the cook, and fills her (or his) heart with love. When I’d catch a glance at Marlon making staff lunch, (having finished his morning prep always half an hour before any of us), I would see his quiet concentration release a little. Then, he’d start grating carrots. The result was always so simple, but so celebrated. I don’t know where it comes from: his Brazil, or his mother, or just his cheeky smile. But whenever Marlon started grating carrots I knew we’d be eating a little bit of his heart for lunch.

The problem is, I never watched him do it!! Marlon, if you’re out their honey, can you send me your secret? xx

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