Son rises to the challenge of a great dinner party
Let them eat cake … chef Martin Teplitzky making Gretta Anna's Mile High Pavlova while his father, David Teplitzky, looks on at their home in Wahroonga where a cooking school is set to reopen. Photo: James Brickwood
THE late Gretta Anna's Mile High Pavlova measured 33 centimetres when her son made it this week, but his 83-year-old father pronounced the crunchy caramel shards better than the original.
Margaret Fulton may have taught Australia how to cook, but Gretta Anna Teplitzky's bright orange and green cookbooks from the 1970s and '80s taught a generation how to do dinner parties on a grand scale, say experts.
Think rack of lamb Jean-Paul Sartre, mousseline of scallops, orange cake, sour cherry soup, Hungarian pancake stacks and the perfect roast duck.
Now Gretta Anna's son, Martin Teplitzky, is planning to continue his mother's tradition, re-creating and teaching some of his mother's recipes in a slightly modified way to appeal to today's time-starved cooks.
Next month he will reopen the cooking school his mother ran for 30 years at their Harry Seidler-designed home in Wahroonga.
''She just made cooking easy and approachable at a time when nobody really knew anything much about food,'' Mr Teplitzky said. ''She made people very comfortable with tackling things that they wouldn't have done otherwise.''
A professional cook, Mr Teplitzky ran several top restaurants including Bon Cafard. Until recently, he taught some of the great chefs how to cook in Italy and London.
When he returned to live in Australia, Mr Teplitzky discovered a stack of his mother's unpublished recipes, including the quaintly titled Mile High Pavlova. They'll be included in a new cookbook, The Best of Gretta Anna with Martin Teplitzky, to be published by Penguin in time for Mother's Day in 2015.
As Mr Teplitzky put together the six-layer pavlova, which took 24 egg whites, with lemon curd as the surprise ingredient, observers reminisced about the days of the great dinner party.
''My mum used to spend hours cooking from the orange book,'' said Rebecca Zipser, who remembers her mother making Gretta Anna's sour cherry soup and the quail.
The food and wine expert Lyndey Milan said Gretta Anna's recipes had catered more for the dinner party cook than the everyday cook.
''When you think back to the dinner parties of the '80s, oh my God, they were fabulous … but so much hard work,'' Milan said. ''I think her food was very stylish, with a hint of Europe about it, and it was quite elegant food for the time.''
Mr Teplitzky's father, David Teplitzky, 83, is delighted by the reopening of the school. ''I keep thinking my wife would be excited to see the room changing, becoming alive again,'' he said before angling to taste the pavlova. It was delicious.