On Thursday, March 26, Danielle Alvarez decided to bake a brown-butter apple cake because “it felt like the only sane thing to do”. Like so many others in the hospitality industry, the head chef at Paddington’s paddock-to-plate fine diner, Fred’s, is coping with the temporary closure of her workplace. And like the rest of us, she is looking to her pantry for a bit of inspiration. Luckily, she’s sharing some of that wisdom via Instagram.
You’ll find the recipe for that comforting cake on her account, along with other step-by-step guides to simple, nourishing dishes she's been posting, such as a spiced coconut and butternut pumpkin soup and a pasta with staples like leftover greens and tinned beans. There’s even a quick multipurpose Italian-style salad dressing recipe. Practically all the ingredients can be found in your cupboard or fridge, but should you wish to make dinner a tad more luxe, you can also try your hand at a steamed whole snapper with ginger and shallot (“Don’t be afraid of whole fish. This preparation is VERY forgiving.”).
Meanwhile, Mr Wong head honcho Dan Hong is cooking up a storm in his home kitchen – and his 70,000-plus Instagram followers can’t get enough of his videos (complete with hilarious interruptions from his three young kids). He talks through a series of mod pan-Asian hits he’s become known for over the years at Lotus, Ms G’s, Queen Chow and Mr Wong: miniature prawn toasts, kimchi fried rice with ox tongue, prawn gyoza.
He also butters a cheese-and-confit-garlic toastie to the high heavens, shows you how to cook Wagyu chuck roll in a pan and encourages you to take advantage of the current rock-bottom lobster prices in order to make lobster “ma goreng” (inspired by ram-don, aka jjapaguri, the noodle dish made popular by Best Picture winner, Parasite).
Let’s be honest – we’d all probably rather be spending time and money in our favourite restaurants, having Sydney’s best chefs cook for us. But for now, this is pretty much as close as we can get.