Life Eat & Drink Australia’s favourite chefs reveal their ultimate comfort food
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Australia’s favourite chefs reveal their ultimate comfort food

curtis stone
Curtis Stone's favourite winter warmer is a somewhat unconventional choice. Photo: Getty
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When Winter brings cold, dark days we naturally seek out warm, comforting foods.

So what do Australia’s favourite chefs, what they love to eat at home on a wintry day? And what dishes drag their customers in from the cold?

Curtis Stone, co-owner and chef at Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant, which is redefining fine dining in LA, loves nothing more than, “a good stir fry with the warming flavours of ginger, garlic and chilis to give it some zip”.

“Served with a bowl of rice, stir fries can be super warming and comforting,” Mr Stone says.

For his customers however, the hit dishes on the menu at Gwen are the 30-day dry-aged rib eye and the asador pork served three ways – belly, cheek, and loin.

At Brae, Australia’s top-ranked restaurant on the World’s Best Restaurants list, a multi-course tasting menu is offered.

Dan Hunter, chef and owner of Brae, decides on the menu each day based on seasonal availability and “what’s in our garden”.

He says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which dish is the most popular but suggests that it’s the Hapuku and walnut praline, steamed broccoli rabe and pork juice.

“At home, we usually have organic roast or poached chicken and any of the winter garden veggies,” Mr Hunter says.

In terms of guilty pleasure foods?

“I try not to associate guilt with pleasure! However, I can’t go past baked fruit Tarte Tatin covered in crème anglaise.”

Indeed, Tarte Tartin is a favourite winter treat for Gabriel Gaté, presenter of SBS’s Le Taste Le Tour with Gabriel Gaté.

“It’s a family weekend treat,” says Gate, whose 23rd cookbook So French So Sweet is an homage to cakes, tarts and desserts.

For him though, nothing surpasses chicken vegetable soup as his favourite winter comfort food.

“My grandmother had one big pot on the stove, and that’s what she ate every day in winter. The soup is cooked with lots of chicken bones, chicken pieces and vegetables – always leeks, celery, carrots, capsicum, pumpkin, some corn and ginger.”

Gaté says that this soup is best served with plenty of chopped parsley and always with toasted sourdough bread.

“I come from an era where we enjoy bread!” he laughs.

Hetty McKinnon, who founded Sydney’s salad delivery business Arthur Street Kitchen, and wrote the best-selling plant-based cookbook Community and follow-up Neighbourhood, says lentil soup is her favourite winter dish.

“There is something so comforting and nurturing about a simple bowl of lentils, accented with humble everyday vegetables,” she says from her new test kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.

“My favourite lentil soup recipe includes a swirl of smoky baba ghanoush to add a mellow creaminess.”

There’s no meat on the menu at Melbourne’s vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters.

The most popular wintry dish on the menu is the mushrooms.

“However, the ‘Warm Pumpkin Churros with Espresso Dark Chocolate Sauce’ come a close second,” says Mo Wyse, co-owner of Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli.

Mo, a US expat, whips up her Potato, Bacon, Cheddar & Corn Chowder (vegan version) when she is craving comfort.

“It’s so very typically American!” she confesses.

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