Pastry chef Lauren Eldridge on the perfect steak, toasties and tonka beans

Lauren Eldridge's spin on the Neapolitan at Stokehouse, Melbourne.
Lauren Eldridge's spin on the Neapolitan at Stokehouse, Melbourne. Photo: Daniel Pockett

At only 29, Lauren Eldridge is an established star of the dessert scene in Australia. The group pastry chef for the Van Haandel stable (including Stokehouse), she's renowned for her striking modern creations.

My favourite hero ingredient

Tonka beans. I love their vanilla marzipan flavour. Tonka beans infuse really well in cream or milk, but you can use them just like you would vanilla.A tonka bean panna cotta is a great easy way to start. At Stokehouse, I infuse tonka beans into custard and serve it with a melon granita.

Five things in my fridge

Sourdough bread. The perks of having a chef partner who makes the bread at Embla is that we always have the leftovers.

You'll never catch Lauren Eldridge eating a banana.
You'll never catch Lauren Eldridge eating a banana. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Pickles. Usually we have a container of sliced cucumbers we make ourselves, as well as a large jar of gherkins. There's no brand loyalty, we try a broad range.

Remoulade. A classic Danish pickle mayonnaise. My partner is Danish, and we just love it. We have a few bottles sent over from Denmark, but if we run out of that we make it at home.

Cheese. Multiple types. At the moment there is some Holy Goat La Luna, Berrys Creek Oak Blue, Pyengana Dairy Cheddar and some Yarra Valley Dairy Firey, a fresh cows' milk cheese marinated in olive oil and chilli. We love a cheese platter, and we use the cheddar in toasties.

You'll find Holy Goat La Luna cheese in Eldridge's fridge.
You'll find Holy Goat La Luna cheese in Eldridge's fridge. Photo: Supplied

Eggs. We go to either the South Melbourne or Queen Vic Market for ours. They both have a large selection of free-range eggs in different sizes.

You'll never catch me with a…

Banana. Or anything banana-flavoured. I really dislike the smell, texture and taste. If one makes its way into my home the peel needs to be immediately discarded in the bin outside.

I can't live without...

Coffee. I can admit to being a fairly cranky and unproductive person until I have my first cup in the morning.

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How to impress at a dinner party

Make a tarte tatin. All you need is some good quality all-butter puff pastry and some vegetables or fruit and you can make it savoury or sweet with little effort. I enjoy witlof with a vinegar caramel or a classic apple for dessert. It always looks impressive if you flip it out of the pan in front of your guests.

Give me an egg and I'll…

So many options! This is why I always have eggs in the fridge. I use them all the time in baking and desserts at home: custards, ice-cream, cakes and biscuits. I love a simple fried egg on top of my aforementioned Mi Goreng noodles, stir-fried into fried rice or a poached egg on toast for breakfast.

My secret to a perfect steak

Make sure it is at room temperature before you start cooking and give it enough time to rest before you serve it. Actually, my biggest secret is having my partner cook it for me while I sit on the couch with a glass of wine.

'Tonka beans infuse really well in cream or milk.'
'Tonka beans infuse really well in cream or milk.' Photo: Supplied

Go-to midnight meal

Toasties. That leftover sourdough with cheddar, pickles and red onion is a favourite. Sometimes it's open-face and under the grill, otherwise I spread the bread with mayonnaise and pan-fry the sandwich to get it extra crisp.

I'm embarrassed for you to see but I'll show you...

my stash of two-minute noodles. I normally have a few packets of Indomie Mi Goreng for a quick snack and if it's particularly cold and windy, a packet of Maggi oriental flavour noodles.

My superhero power in the kitchen

Is sensing that the timer is about to go off a few seconds before it does. I'm pretty sure chefs develop a relatively accurate internal timer.

My favourite gadget

Palette knives. I feel like that's a typical pastry chef answer but I have a selection of sizes and shapes that I'm always using.

I take my caffeine…

In large quantities. During a typical working day, I would have five or so cups. If I am spending the day at home, we have a French press as well as a filter drip that I can set on a timer, so it's ready when I wake up and I can just drink the pot throughout the morning.