Chefs Eat Breakfast Too
By Darren Purchese
Hardie Grant Books, £12.99
Chefs Eat Breakfast Too suggests that it can help home cooks “make breakfast like that ‘so hot right now’ café down the road”. However, given the boost a strong brunch offering can provide a hospitality outlet, it also has plenty of ideas worthy of consideration by professional chefs.
It’s a lighthearted affair – the book is illustrated with cutesy line drawings and Instagram-worthy photography, while the text regularly flows into quirky anecdotes. However, Darren Purchese has serious credentials to back up his dishes. In London alone the chef worked on the pastry section at the Savoy hotel under William Curley, followed by stints at the Goring, Brown’s in Mayfair and the Bentley hotel in Knightsbridge as executive pastry chef – not to mention his Acorn Award from The Caterer. Nowadays, he has swapped elite hotel kitchens for a stove on Australian TV or at his Melbourne dessert and cake business, Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio.
Recipes are quirky and inventive, breathing life into old staples. British-born he may be, but the feel of the book is inherently Australian and dishes are naturally diverse as a result, drawing from that combination of western and east Asian culture the country’s cuisine has managed to cultivate. Recipes range from crumpets and soft-boiled eggs with anchovy toast to Thai beef tartare with fried eggs and chicken congee with crispy doughnuts.
There is also plenty of zeitgeist woven into the book – such as a recipe for a social media favourite, thick pork katsu sando popularised, in the UK at least, by Alex Kratena and Monica Berg at TaTa Eatery and Bright in London’s Hackney.
Avocado gets its praise, but thankfully is not ever-present – dishes utilising the archetype of millennial cuisine number only five of the book’s 151 recipe pages.
There is every chance that, in 20 years’ time, the food will look like a bizarre pastiche of this decade’s commitment to brunch culture. For now it serves as a great well of casual dining inspiration to freshen up a stale menu and offer insight into tackling early hours trends.
By Vincent Wood