Philippa Sibley Talks Pastry

Dessert Queen Philippa Sibley from il Fornaio takes us inside her world of chocolate, caramel and spills the beans on the one dish she still struggles to get right!

Where did you grow up? “Mooroolbark, Melbourne.”

When did you realise you wanted to be a chef? “After eating at Tansy’s, Stephanie’s and Mietta’s, all beautiful and inspiring restaurants with female chefs or names.”

Is there one dish you still struggle to get right? “Rice.”

What does it take to be a successful chef? “Instinct as well as a natural talent for combinations and balance. Also, don’t become a chef unless you are really passionate. It involves a lot of blood, sweat and tears, literally.”

Worst job you have ever had? “When I was 15 years old I worked in a fish and chip shop in North Croydon. My nemesis at school started to pick on me because of my haircut and one casual dress beat me. Then she came into the fish and chip shop one day and I threw batter at her. I was frog-stomped from my first cooking job and charged with assault and battery.”

What is your signature dish? “It has become The Snickers. It’s not a personal favourite, as I’m more into seasonal fruit driven dishes, but you can’t pick your signature dish, your customers do.”

What is unique about your restaurant? “il Fornaio is a unique collaboration where exquisite pastry and spectacular desserts will be matched with the best speciality coffee from St Ali. il Fornaio is rasing the bar of what can be achieved with a café, into a stunning wine and dessert bar at night. Il Fornaio is open from 7am to 11pm every day of the week.”

What is the chef serving in heaven? “Perfect stone fruit and freshly churned ice cream that will never make you fat.”

What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried? “Witchetty grubs. You have to squeeze the sawdust out of them before you eat them.”

What is one question people are always asking you? “What is my food or cooking philosophy.”

What is your biggest food indulgence? “Caviar on beautiful bread with French butter.”

How do you have your coffee? “Strong piccolo.”

What ingredient are you obsessed with right now? “Smoked maple syrup?”

Which three people would to invite to a dinner party? “Tony Bourdain, Robert Downey Jnr, Catherine Deveny.”

What is your best tip for home cooks? “Buy a good sharp knife and keep it sharp.”

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