An Interview with Jordan Toft
Chances are, if you live in Sydney, your life has been impacted one way or another by Jordan. Jordan Toft is the Executive Chef currently responsible for two of Merivale’s stand-out venues, Coogee Pavillon & The Newport. He worked in kitchens all over the globe from a young age, soaked up knowledge from the world’s top chefs and created his unique style which we can now all benefit from.
At In Bloom, nutrition is at the core of our brand, and throughout the time we have known Jordan, he has been an unmatched source of endless learnings and constant inspiration to us around food. We were lucky enough to have him agree to share a slice of his wisdom with you. We spoke with Jordan about how mindfulness impacts his work as a chef, his top restaurants in Sydney & Melbourne, his best tips for saving time while cooking, and a lot more. Jordan’s philosophy is refreshing and his recipes are an honest combination of simplicity & perfection.
What inspires you in the kitchen?
Inspiration comes in many forms. From the people who produce the things I get to cook to seeing the next generation of chefs come through and seeing their enthusiasm for knowledge. People and their passion around food gives me collective inspiration.
What is the meal you cook most often at home?
I enjoy grilling over fire outside but roasting a chicken in the oven with some simple side and a glass of wine brings me relaxation.
How does mindfulness affect your work as chef?
I'm a beginner [in mindfulness], but after 20 years in the kitchen, allowing myself to be present gives me focus and appreciation.
What is your food philosophy?
I feel I cook best when I understand the journey the produce has taken prior to me cooking it. This makes me feel like I'm a part of the bigger picture, therefore the pressure is off and I'm just need to use my technique and experience to bring it to 'life'.
What are your best tips for saving time while cooking?
Planning - If you're entertaining, plan your meal and remember not to overload on appliance in your kitchen with too many dishes.
When you think of creativity in the kitchen in the Sydney scene, what restaurants represent it best?
There are many categories of restaurants with various creativity but I enjoy the food at Fratelli Paradiso for long lunches, Snacks and wine at 10 William and the changing and creative food at Ester.
What are your top 3 restaurants for a business lunch in Sydney? Melbourne?
Business Lunch? My style of business is long and relaxed rather than trying to impress. Make it more of a lifestyle lunch!
- Sydney - Fratelli Paradiso, Hubert, Sean's Panorama, Ester
- Melbourne - IGNI, Embla, Flower Drum, Bar Liberty
What is your most gifted book?
My favourite book is Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli - A lovely book about Italian tradition written by a complex man in Berkley California.
What is health to you? If you had to point out to one healthy person, who would that be?
I'm endeavouring to find health through balance. Not easy to change my mind set at the age of 35 but one I'm focused to achieve. A healthy person... I'm not sure I can answer that. I'm sure someone on the cover of a health magazine looks healthy but who's to say they don't have other issues that need attention? So what is healthy? Being at peace with, what and where, you are right now is probably healthy.
What are the 3 things you've learned from being a chef at some of Australia's top dining venues?
1. Attention to detail
2. How to organise the mind on the fly
3. Do it right or do it again
What are some underrated ingredients for cooking?
- Bitter greens - Rapini, chicory, escarole, dandelion greens. These may need you to retrain your palate.
What does your morning routine look like?
Again something I'm working on as I have a propensity to savour that extra 10mins of sleep rather than do as I'd like and should, that being to wake up slowly enjoying a hot lemon water before a morning meditation to get me into the day.
I normally eat at work which is a small brown rice bowl which includes avocado, sprouts, kimchi, baby spinach, an egg and light dressing of fermented soy beans and ginger. I eat this while going through the first of my emails (if I have been good and NOT read them as soon as I wake in bed!) I normally have a coffee after that before getting stuck into the day.
Photo credits: Copyright 2017 Merivale