Kitchen spy: TV chef and caterer Ed Halmagyi

You couldn't walk into the Halmagyi household without tripping over a mortarboard, so Ed's decision to cook professionally strayed from the academic path followed by his parents and siblings. That said, he did get a law degree first, but couldn't wait to get back into kitchens, where he'd worked part time since he was 14.

A pastry chef by trade, he has worked in top restaurants here and overseas (including the Wickaninnish Inn on Vancouver Island, Canada, and back home at Rockpool in Sydney), but is best known as Fast Ed for the quick recipes he presents on Seven's Better Homes and Gardens. He lives on Sydney's northern beaches with his wife, Leah, and children, Luca, 11, and Finn, 8.

The staples

My pantry: I do a lot of baking and breadmaking, and I love the Demeter and Kialla flours for their flavour, freshness and predictable rise. You'll never find me without Ortiz anchovies, and they now come with a fork, so I can eat them straight from the jar. I also put them into gribiche sauce because we eat a lot of fish. I use a variety of olive oils and go for Australian whenever I can. At the moment I'm loving Cobram Estate Premiere. Lee Kum Kee soy sauce has been awarded ''world best'' repeatedly, and it is. It's so delicate and layered because it's double-fermented. I discovered sorghum syrup when I was living in the [United] States, and it's like everything maple syrup wants to be when it grows up - great drizzled over fruit tarts.

My fridge: There's always a huge amount of vegetables because we eat a mostly vegetable-based diet. Mushrooms are a regular, marinated with basil oil and Indonesian long pepper and baked. I'm loving the new varieties of tomatoes widely available, like the yellow cherry ones. I always have several goat's cheeses; I love the acidity. Meredith Dairy with ash is my favourite. I drizzle syrup from either Sandhurst or Luxardo maraschino cherries over porridge in the morning or drop one into a glass of champagne. They're a bit daggy but fun, too. I go through about five kilos of Allowrie unsalted cultured butter a week with all my baking, and it's just as good as more expensive butters. Using cultured butter, with its lactic tang, is one of the easiest ways to improve pastry.

Secret vice

I love Foster Clark's vanilla custard. It takes me back to my childhood when we'd have it with peaches we'd bottled.

I'm cooking

Last dinner at home, I made lentil and cauliflower soup with the French-style lentils from Victoria because they maintain their shape. I didn't puree it, because I like the textures. I also made a little soda bread to go with it.

Kitchen highlight

The bench! It's a metre high, and I'm a tall guy. Now I don't get a sore back prepping.

My toolkit

My KitchenAid mixer is six years old, gets about 18 hours of work a week and has never missed a beat. It's a real workhorse. I cannot imagine life without a good rolling pin. The best one is just a straight French dowel without handles, so you're forced to apply even pressure to the whole thing and you don't end up with thin pastry edges. A knife is just a tool, so I have all different brands and use whichever does the job best. The Microplane gets flogged for cheese, garlic, citrus, everything.

I'm drinking

You'll always find smoky tea, whether it's lapsang souchong, oolong or Russian Caravan, which I drink black. I have one strong black Di Stefano coffee in the morning, then it's smoky tea all day. I'm a whisky aficionado from way back. I'm particularly fond of Glenlivet as a day-to-day drink, and Talisker, which is more peaty. And there's this amazing, fantastic Sirenya pinot grigio from the Adelaide Hills, which I'm loving.

My inspiration

I'm inspired by the idea of hospitality and taking care of people. I'd never work in a restaurant without an open kitchen because I want to see how people are responding to the food. It's about relationships and my desire to cook for people, whether I'm meeting them for the first time or I've known them all my life.

Food discovery

Fermentation. I've got a few things on the go in the laundry at the moment: apple kraut, capsicum hot sauce and Tabasco.

Most memorable meal

It was on Flinders Island. The head chef at the Whitemark Hotel was a French guy who'd been chef de cuisine at Arpege in Paris, had fallen for an Australian girl and wound up here. He used amazing local produce - wallaby, scallops, garfish … but so much is about context and expectations. I'd walked in there thinking it was going to be pub grub and it was three-Michelin-star standard.


I got this spoon from my late grandmother when I first started cooking nearly 25 years ago and it's been in my toolkit ever since.