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Winners: Lorraine Godsmark
It all began with the date tart. Not long after making her debut in the kitchen, Lorraine Godsmark found herself in the role of head pastry chef at Neil Perry’s legendary Rockpool when it opened for business in 1989. She’d been working on a clafoutis-like creation, refining the ins and outs of Perry’s recipe combining chewy Californian dates and silky vanilla custard, and she and Perry decided to put it on the menu and serve it on its own.
“It was a really brave thing to do back then – to send out a piece of tart on a plate with no garnish, no sprig of anything, no nothing,” she says.
The unadorned dish drew raves from prominent critic Leo Schofield and the rest, as they say, is pretty much history. Godsmark held the position for a decade, cementing her status as one of Sydney’s top talents, and that lionised tart graces Perry’s menus to this day.
“It’s pretty amazing to see that it’s lasted this long,” she says. “I still get asked for it at least 15 times a day.”
But why single out just one dessert from an arsenal of masterpieces? What about Godsmark’s unforgettable macadamia and salted caramel tarts? Those dreamy rosebud marshmallows? The glorious orange-and-cinnamon-scented Ruby’s Cake? Paris-Brest that rivals Paris’s best?
For over three decades – in restaurants, cafés and the eponymous CBD pâtisserie she’s presided over since 2013 – Godsmark’s handiwork has made this city a sweeter place. In this day and age of kitchen hacks, 15-minute meals and Instagram-fuelled desserts wackier than anything Wonka would have dreamed of, her uncompromising, no-shortcuts approach and steadfast commitment to timeless textures and classic flavour combinations are almost an anomaly. All it takes is one bite of her almost weightless, impossibly fluffy, lactic and lemony cheesecake to understand why she’s endured, and why she is a bona fide Time Out Legend.
“A lot of people have come and gone, but I’m still here,” she says. “I still find my craft fascinating.”