''Female chefs are much easier to work with. Both in the kitchen and on the floor, far less ego.''
Every night's a party ... Porteno co-owner Sarah Doyle. Photo: Lee Besford
THE CRAVE SYDNEY International Food Festival's World Chef Showcase brought culinary luminaries from around the globe all under one roof. Good Food was there, recording their words of wisdom.
● ''Women can multitask - it's like they are apps, and they are all open, all day long.'' - Licia Granello, food editor, La Repubblica newspaper. ''And then they run out of battery.'' Alex Herbert, formerly of Bird Cow Fish.
● Barry McDonald, of Fratelli Fresh, giving advice on opening a restaurant: ''Start as you mean to carry on - get it right before you open.''
● A customer at Ben Shewry's restaurant seven years ago told him: ''Whoever wrote this menu must be on f---ing speed'' and then walked out. ''It was pretty hard to take.'' Shewry on his preferred staff: ''I don't care about qualifications and certificates. I care about the human spirit and how hard you are prepared to work.''
● Fraser Short from the Morrison: ''Australia is about to be crippled by the wage problem. A main course in a cafe will soon cost $35.''
● Nick Lander, restaurant critic for the Financial Times: ''If you instantly want to wind up a waiter and get the worst service in the world, click your fingers.''
● Terry Durack, chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald: ''I am terrible company when I go out to eat. I don't talk about anything except the food.''
● Sarah Doyle on her Argentinian grill: ''Porteno is about welcoming people into the party you wish you could go to. Every night we have so much fun.''
● Jack Hanna from the Grounds of Alexandria: ''In the future, cafes will know more about the products they serve. I want to have control of the products I serve, maybe have a farm so I know how the pigs are treated.''
● Shewry (again) from Attica, on the value of DIY, invokes an expression from his native New Zealand: ''Build your own shit, bro.''
● Regarding chefs' egos, McDonald says: ''Female chefs are much easier to work with. Both in the kitchen and on the floor, far less ego.''
● More from McDonald on setting up a restaurant: ''The food, the service, the vibe, all must be right. Vibe is the hardest of those three. Say 'yes' to customers, life is easier that way. If they request something and you say 'no', it is over, they won't be back.''
● Regarding the death of print media: ''There are still more magazines starting than folding in any given year in the US,'' Colman Andrews (co-founder Saveur Magazine and thedailymeal.com) says. ''The second-largest group of new magazines are food related, the first are sex.''
● In regard to the role of the critic, and online restaurant scoring systems: ''There seems to be a feeling out there that the opinion of the crowd will lead you to a better meal than someone who has been doing this [reviewing] for 20 years,'' Andrews says.
● ''The role and importance of the restaurateur is a European concept,'' says cook and former restaurateur Herbert. ''Here chefs tend to own their restaurants, which is really, really stupid.''
● ''I think we spend way too much time in restaurants,'' Italian-born journalist and Cook It Raw festival director, Andrea Petrini, says.
● Good Food food editor Karen Martini: ''Fennel is the Italian version of MSG for me. I think it adds seasoning, flavour and spice.''
● Marque's Mark Best demonstrated a superbly elegant but complex dish of Murray cod with fish milk roe, savoy cabbage, pomelo and sea parsley. He says his main mantra is to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, putting things together as they might be in nature.
● Jordi Roca, of El Celler de Can Roca, is the king of the Rotaval, a distillation machine. ''We distil everything,'' he says. That includes the famous ''Catalan surf and turf'' he created with his brothers, the chef and the sommelier at Can Roca: oysters served with a distillation of earth. ''It really tastes like earth,'' Roca says. ''A childhood memory. Who among us didn't eat earth as a kid?''