Masterchef S04 ep6 : Raymond Capaldi, Grace Restaurant, [Melbourne]

Interview with Raymond Capaldi

Hare & Grace was voted the Best Restaurant in Melbourne in the Peoples Choice Category of The Australian Magazine’s Hot 50 Restaurants in Australia, 2012.  Ray has gained experience in the some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world. They include Gleneagles in Scotland, the Dorchester in London, the British Embassy in Moscow, the Park Lane Hong Kong and Hotel Sofitel Melbourne to name a few.


The Hare and Grace. The Grace means the cooking is very technical and little bit of grace. But the whole atmosphere is very
relaxed and calming. It’s just that element of being refined but not showing [14:26]its refined but everything is a surprise.

I used to go to restaurants with my family when I was young and we were in the fish and chips trade. My mother always made
sure it was all good quality. And the quality was, when someone came in we actually cooked the fish and chips to order. So it
was always a very high standard fish and chips and I have a huge following. And basically I grew from that to understand about
customers, about how to run a business, and basically that’s why I wanted to go into this trade.

At that time there was a series called Pick Chefs which had people like Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre-Whyte in the 80s. So at 16 I
headed off to Telford College which is in Edinburgh and then quickly got a job in the British Transport hotel which was the
Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh and basically that was a five star hotel. And from there I just grew and started to learn all the
different assets of the kitchen. You know, one year on larda, one year on sauce, one year on fresh, one year on butchery and
sort of progressed up to there.

The hotel push you for about the competitions and then that started me being very competitive. And it was a long road, but
then this competition helped you to organized, committed, see it through. Even if you didn’t win you would still a winner to be
in it.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Those five star hotels that teach you everything about the organization, knowing what you are set out for and knowing the
difficulties that were coming ahead. You are building that team and replacing people already just in case you lose them and
getting that consistency instead of going up and down all the time.

I came to visit a friend and basically I got captured by the Melbourne dining scene because it’s one of the best in the world. I just
shared something with Anthony Bourdain, would rather dine in Melbourne than in Paris and I am afraid I have to agree with
him. To become a great chef, I think you got to push yourself a little bit every day and question why even if you have done it a
hundred times. You have got to come and say or go home on the way thinking how do you change that dish and make it better.
And that’s what Melbourne has done for me. It gives me great warmth inside to continue and be better at what I am.

It was a really rough learning curve, because you have done all this classical cuisine, you wanted to do something different.
Never been on this inaudible [17:37]cooking and basically learnt all this new creative way of using seaweeds to thicken stuff, hot
seaweeds, cold seaweeds. Powders like carougene [17:48], cuagam [17:49] all that new stuff so it was a steep learning curve
because you had to start all over again. Sometimes you come with these Frankenstein dishes and then when you look back you
go well at least you tried and I had. But I was lucky to survive that.

When you look back at it now, it was a pretty dangerous thing to do. Because you just learning all this new cuisine, lucky enough
we have a little taste kitchen where we taste everything nowadays, and that more the way we start the move. It’s taking all
these new kind of elements in cooking and making them modern. That why we call our style of cuisine Tradern which is
traditional and modern put together. And we try to lighten the food with vinegar exts [18:37] instead of heavy juice and heavy
cream sauces. So creams are made from Agar agar and then the juice is made from the pure reduction of the meat without
heavy flow

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

There is so much information on the Internet nowadays. So we just download all the information. We find what goes with
passion fruit, we find what goes with horse radish, we find what was the best thing for an oyster and then research them all.
Then we go through taste by taste, adapting these little pastes and see which one is perfect.

You got your sweet your sour, your salty. You got yuname you got your butter. So it’s just making sure that all that cohesion
comes together in your mouth. Where it’s not got that one element that misfires like a car, one sparkplug that’s missing the car
is not going to start. So you really got to go through all that technique.

Yuname is like MSG. It’s a natural product it comes from tomatoes. People always think that the Chinese people only use MSG,
but they not. The Italians are the most people that use MSG. But it’s a natural product, natural in tomatoes, natural in
parmesan. Sort of a type of salt enzyme. That’s sort of the five flavors of the tongue and everybody’s tongue is different. That’s
why you give a dish to one person and the same dish to the other person and they come up with different tastes. One person
may say this is fantastic and the other person says this is alright.When you do dishes like this you walking on a tight rope. You’re
breaking the barriers but you are also testing people.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

The grouper is just reduced in honey and coffee and its lacquered down and baked at 60° in the oven and you bring it out and
serve it with broccoli and broccoli puree which has a lot when it sweat it brings a lot of sugar out in it. Then we make sure that
the puree the broccoli isserved on the plate with a little bit of coffee and all goes well together. And then served a little bit in
extersion [21:21]which gives you the paperness to go with the fish.

But we don’t use any pepper. All we use is an nasturtium for pepper. Black pepper is too coarse sometimes for your palette. it
just kills everything you have just eaten. In Paris they call nasturtium the poor man's pepper so it gives you little pieces of spice.
It’s not really pepper, it has got a peppery taste but it’s more spicy to me. The garlic flowers, they give you that little nuttiness,
sourness bitterness, all this thing about flavors. Everybody is using flavors now. You got to be very careful what flavors you put
on and to what dish. So it complements the dish not put it on there for garnish and that the understanding. And that is just like
me when I just started with flowers. They were flowers on everything, but then you question yourself just like we did ten years
ago when we stared the fair in [Ferran] Adria thing. It’s very straining yourself back and making sure that you understand what
you are doing.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

There’s alot of things that Mugaritz [22:43] is used in. It’s been used in the medical industry for a long time now. You know like
Kaolin and Clay [22:52], you know it’s like paracetamols. The animals in the jungle they basically dig the kaolin out if they got
poison in them to get rid of the poison. He really understands what he is doing. And that the difference between the Mugaritz
and the NOMA. Noma has got that more unaudible [23:07] flavor whereas Mugaritz is chalk and cheese. Mugaritz has got that
fantastic ingenuity very clever. It’s all about the food and how it tastes. Not to say that Noma isn’t. It’s very delicate . Mugaritz,
you have to have the right palette to eat Mugaritz food.

For years we have been making crème brullet the way as we like to break it down and savour. Maybe when this was invented,
they didn’t need to put all these eggs in. The creamer was a different liquid, so we questioned it. So basically it’s the same most
food places like to put vanilla bean though the mixture, but you can see it’s been made through the mixture. So one day we
made a crème brullet and it came back, basically one woman told us there was a cigarette ash in there and can I get another
one. I said she is not going to be happy again because there are more black specs (true vanilla seeds) in crème brullet. So again
she wasn’t happy with what we told her. She wasn’t convinced, she wanted to take a sample away and tried to get a sample but
you know this is what you face sometimes.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Raymond Capaldi, Grace Restaurant, [Melbourne]