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Adriano Zumbo and Neil Perry

Monique Lane
Friday, January 6, 2012
Adriano Zumbo
Adriano Zumbo
Neil Perry
Neil Perry
Hands Across the Kitchen was a great way to help and it's great to see chefs coming together for a worthy cause.
Monique Lane

If you've ever wondered what your favourite chefs looked like as kids, or what their most sentimental childhood dish was, the new Hands Across the Kitchen cookbook has collected both photos and recipes to help raise money for Thai orphans and communities affected by the 2004 tsunami.

The charity's founder Peter Baines says, "the book brings together not only the culinary skills of 51 of this country's leading chefs, but it engages their hearts in the process. It provides food for the table and food for your soul. The gorgeous photos and stories of the kids gives the book reason to be read, beyond the stunning recipes."

Baines, known as an 'accidental hero' in Thailand, has helped build orphanages and raise money to support communities still suffering. The book is designed to be made with children, for children and, as Baines says, "the sale of the book allows us to provide food and life saving medication for those kids we support. Equally it gives us a chance to enter kitchens of those who purchase the book and they too become part of the journey in improving the lives of others".

Chefs such as Maggie Beer, Giovanni Pilu and Andrew McConnell are some of the Australian talent who have shared their childhood memories and dishes with the project. Recipes range from 'Dawn's pavlova' from Pater Gilmore, to Neil Perry's fish curry.

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"It is a simple curry of fish; the reason I chose this dish for the book is my father used to cook it for me and it was one of the first dishes I then cooked and still do," Perry says. Getting children involved in the kitchen is one of Perry's passions — "Be patient with them, get them to try as many different things as you can. Make them fresh food and make sure then know where food comes from, so shop with them in markets and most of all eat with them when you can."

Perry was committed to contributing to the project. "I love the idea and any time I can do something to help children around the world I'm in. I have travelled to Thailand many times, I love the country, its food and its people. Thais are wonderfully gentle and caring. Their food is diverse and vibrant. It is one country I feel very at home in" he says.

Similarly the ever-popular, slightly mad, Adriano Zumbo has joined the collaboration. "I wanted to help, but I was limited because I couldn't physically be there so getting involved with Hands Across the Kitchen was a great way to help and it's great to see chefs coming together for a worthy cause," he says. Zumbo's recipe is a childhood favourite of blackcurrant lollies. As he says, "As a kid my parents owned a supermarket and one of my favorite lollies was the blackcurrant fruit pastels, I have loved lollies all my life as a kid and it brings back a lot of memories. As I get older my palate is becoming a little more refined and seeking cleaner flavours, but these lollies I still can't resist."

Asked what inspires him, Zumbo says, "I'm inspired by everything that's around me, whether that's an experience in your life or memories, cultures or even jokes — everything inspires me and I use it as a springboard to create things for people to enjoy. At the end of the day I just want people to have fun and be happy when they leave my store."

For more information and to purchase the cookbook click here

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