In my kitchen: Sean Connolly

STEPHANIE CLIFFORD-SMITH
Last updated 14:11 16/07/2013

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In my fridge: Sean Connolly

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Nobody could accuse chef Sean Connolly of dithering over what to do for a living. He started his apprenticeship at 13 at the Pennine Hilton in his birthplace of West Yorkshire and hasn't looked back. Hours spent in his grandmother's kitchen as a child ignited his interest in food, and he is still excited by old recipes, albeit with a modern twist.

Connolly moved to Australia in 1988 and has won many awards for his restaurants. Today, he is executive chef at The Morrison in Sydney and The Grill by Sean Connolly in Auckland.

THE STAPLES...

MY PANTRY: Star anise and dried chilli flakes are favourites, generally. I use the star anise when I make my own HP (brown) sauce and put the chilli flakes on fried eggs. Henderson's Yorkshire relish is a take on Worcestershire sauce but I think it's better. Forum chardonnay vinegar; 3000 B.C. organic extra virgin olive oil from Greece. Maldon sea salt, which I use plain and as chilli salt, which I make by grinding it with chilli flakes. Valrhona dark chocolate. Ortiz anchovies. Sumac, which I love for its acidity.

MY FRIDGE: Duck fat for chips and roast potatoes. Scottish black pudding for a monthly treat. Pepe Saya butter. Jamon.

FOOD DISCOVERY...

Kaitaia Fire, a type of tabasco from New Zealand. I prefer it to the usual McIlhenny's one because it has a fresher taste.

I'M COOKING...

LAST DINNER AT HOME: Tandoori lamb shoulder in the slow cooker. We just had it with a green salad and yoghurt.

SECRET VICE: Ice-cream. I'm mad for it. Sometimes I make it, but if I don't, I'll just eat whatever has been bought. I'll start on it late at night and end up finishing it. Then I have to leave a little IOU for the kids on the empty carton.

I'M DRINKING...

First thing in the morning, I do shots of black coffee to get my heart started. About midday, I start drinking tea - I'm an Earl Grey kind of guy and I make it with Twinings tea bags, strong and black. I like white wine, particularly Prinz von Hessen riesling from Alsace, but in winter, pinot noir is where I'm at.

SATURDAY NIGHT TIPPLE: Hendrick's gin and tonic or if I'm having a party I might make negronis.

MY TOOL KIT...

Nespresso coffee machine, which I like for its consistency. Pestle and mortar, jaffle irons from Japan. Carbon-steel knife, which my staff at Astral bought me. Giesser chef's knife was the first knife I bought with my first wage packet when I was 14. Oyster shucker. Wooden mushroom used for passing sauces and soups through a sieve.

INSPIRATION...

Travelling and eating out give me the most inspiration. I have a really bad habit of buying cookbooks and not reading them. I flick through them and just look at the pictures.

FAVOURITE COOKBOOK...

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Mrs Beeton's All-About Cookery. I go to it when I'm working out new ideas. My kind of cooking I call retro chic, when I put little twists on old-fashioned food.

MOST MEMORABLE MEAL...

Le Comptoir in the St Germain Hotel in Paris is a nice little bistro with classic French food. I went there about 18 months ago. We had foie gras on toast, whole roast chickens, black pudding with apples, rillettes, creme caramel and a room-temperature rice pudding topped with tiny coffee meringues. My mum and dad and sister came over from London for lunch. You can't book so we just showed up and got the last table at quarter to twelve and stayed until 4.30. It was an awesome day.

- Good Food

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