Kitchen spy: Jacques Reymond

One of Australia’s most revered chefs, Jacques Reymond has just announced he’ll step away from the stoves at his eponymous three-hatted Melbourne restaurant after 21 years at the top. He’s handing over to his two sous chefs, to whom he passed the baton quietly in February, and who’ll take over in January 2014. ”It stays in the family,” he says of the restaurant, ”the house is in good hands.” Reymond says he will not stop working, ”I have too much energy for that, but at 60 it’s time to step back and enjoy life.” Still, he’s toying with other projects. Innovation abounds when Reymond cooks with wife Kathy at home in Melbourne’s north-east, but he says the sprawling house with Yarra Valley views is too big now that his four adult children have flown the coop.The staples

My pantry Kathy is pretty strict on keeping things organised. We always have some Tilda basmati rice, because I eat rice every day – it’s my favourite carbohydrate over pasta or potato. I like manuka honey, and always have a bottle of good sherry vinegar. The Jose de Soto brand is exceptional, and much more subtle than balsamic vinegar. If you use balsamic in a dressing, it overpowers, and it’s too sugary. You’ll find it at Casa Iberica Deli in Fitzroy (casaibericadeli苏州美甲学校.au).

My fridge I always have the essential Asian ingredients – fish sauce, soy sauce, mirin, sake, pickled ginger, chilli, lemongrass and lime – because [Kathy and I] often cook Asian-style cuisine at home. I usually have seafood rather than meat so I have a piece of fresh tuna for tonight, and some incredible Rottnest Island scallops. But my favourite ingredient is fresh wasabi root from Shima Wasabi Tasmania. Instead of using commercial wasabi that burns and kills the flavour, this is the real stuff. You can use much more, and it’s far more fragrant.I’m drinking

Always wine. I do not like spirits. Beer? Very rarely, perhaps if my sons come over we might have a beer but that’s all. But I love wine. We have our own cellar here, so we have a store for the house.

Saturday night tipple I love the chardonnay from Freycinet Vineyard; it’s fantastic. Also Mount Mary wine, of course. And we make a house wine for the restaurant with my daughter at Toolangi Vineyards.Favourite books

I don’t have that many because I don’t want to be influenced too much by other people – I’m very individual in my cooking, I’m more spontaneous. But sometimes you need some inspiration, so for this I like anything from Alain Ducasse or Michel Bras’ Essential Cuisine – he does wonderful things with vegetables.Tool kit

The microplane is the best contribution the Americans have made to cooking. And a mortar and pestle is very important to me for Asian cooking. I have every kind of gadget, but I really like the Sunbeam Cafe Series deep fryer. This is so clean and easy to use, and there’s no danger of having a pot of boiling oil on the stove.Inspiration

If I go to Asia, I will go to the market, I will study the culture, how they grow, the family spirit, how they live together. I go to Fiji, I’ll meet the people, I’ll study them, I’ll live with them. Then I’ll create a dish that reflects that culture. This is the way I’ve been all my life.Shopping

We take some ingredients from the restaurant, but if we shop ourselves we go to Prahran Market. I don’t like to go into supermarkets. It’s not me – there are too many people, you’ve got big volumes, and stacks of fish all filleted and I hate that. I prefer to buy the whole fish.Secret vice

This is my treat: I have one of these Pride of France French toast biscottis with real French butter and then some dry salami with a little bit of heat in it. I love this with a good coffee. This is much more for me than chocolate or something.Most memorable meal

The experience that always comes back to me with a lot of emotion was a visit to a little restaurant in McLaren Vale called the Salopian Inn at least 25 years ago. I was driving with my wife, and we stopped for lunch at this restaurant and were the only two people in there. There was one chef and one apprentice. We ordered, and they prepared everything at the minute. They made a quiche in front of us to order. They cooked the rice fresh, they went to the garden to pick some herbs, they took us down to the cellar, we picked our own wine. It was exquisite.Coffee kit

I find the Delonghi Nespresso Essenza is very good quality and convenient. I think this is wonderful – it’s clean, it’s quick, it’s always regular. I have about six coffees a day. Four in the morning, then one about 2pm, and then a coffee after staff dinner at about 5.30pm.Last dinner at home

It was last Sunday. We had some veal fillets with pine mushrooms from Bright and a potato and cauliflower gratin. Then Kathy made a quince tart. We do a lot of desserts at home. Kathy loves to bake every weekend, and she will often do cakes, or tarts or mille-feuille.Hardware

De Dietrich is the best equipment that anyone could have in [their] home kitchen. It is French, and a very old family company. It’s the top of the technology and I have the oven, microwave, cooktop, everything. They have programs so if you have to cook a duck, it knows how long to cook it. In the cellar I had a WhisperKOOL humidity and temperature controller imported from the US. It keeps everything at 14 degrees and 50 per cent humidity, 24 hours a day. Perfect.My favourite thing

I wouldn’t be able to cook without my knives, for me they are very precious. I have one for all the different purposes – to fillet I have a knife, to bone I have a knife, to chop I have a knife, to dice I have a knife, to dice herbs I have a separate knife. Never mix! Each one is unique, and some of them were given to me by my grandfather in Jura, France. Best of all is this pouch I use if we go for a picnic or to ski, and it’s ready to go. I have had this for more than 40 years, since before I came to Australia.

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Winter records melt for Sydney

Good weather to get out and about. Photo: Brianne Makin Weather models point to central Australia warming up by next Sunday.

Winter’s over before it barely bit. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

So much for winter.

With only a handful of days to the end of the month, Sydney is all but certain of registering its warmest winter on record.

The Harbour City averaged daily maximums of 19.5 degrees in July and is likely to fall just short of 21 degrees for August. That compares with long-term averages of 19.4 and 20 degrees for May and September, respectively, said Rob Sharpe, a meteorologist with Weatherzone.

“July and August were more like the end of autumn or the start of spring than winter,” Mr Sharpe said.

The outlook for the first couple of weeks of September is also for above-normal temperatures. “We’re going to blitz [the average],” Mr Sharpe said.

Australia-wide, temperatures have been considerably warmer than average since last spring. The September-August period looks likely to be Australia’s warmest 12-month period on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Warm spells

For the winter as a whole, Sydney is running just above the previous record average maximum of 19.4 degrees, set in 1995, with each of the remaining days of the month to reach between 21 and 25 degrees. Minimums may also beat the previous high of 10.3 degrees.

The city’s weather has been remarkable for its long spells of pleasant, mostly dry conditions.

“We haven’t had those really hot days but we’ve definitely missed out on the cooler days,” said Acacia Pepler, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

If the weather forecasts are accurate, Sydney will notch 20 days of 20-degree or warmer weather for August, beating the previous record of 18 set in 2009. All up, the winter is likely to register 39 such days, eclipsing the previous record of 37 set in 2005.

Melting moments

With the weather likely to heat up in coming weeks, particularly over central Australia, the prospects of a late-season rescue for the ski industry aren’t looking good.

Good snowfalls in recent weeks have only gone part way to make up for a poor start to the season. An outlook for warmer conditions and some rain in the next week or so will probably see much of the snow bank start to melt.

“It’s going to peter out pretty quickly – a lot of the snow’s going to heading into slushy,” Mr Sharpe said. “It won’t be prime conditions for skiing.”

Meteorologists say climate change tied largely to humans burning fossil fuels has been nudging temperatures higher for decades.

Sydney, where reliable records go back to 1858, has not had a below-average winter in terms of mean temperatures – running at 12.9 degrees – since 1978, both Ms Pepler and Mr Sharpe confirm.

“Definitely, if you look at the averages over time for Sydney, it’s bit a cooler when you look at the first half of the 20th century,” Ms Pepler said.

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Bob Katter, Clive Palmer find little disagreement

Bob Katter and Clive Palmer at the National Press Club. Photo: Getty ImagesFederal Election 2013 coverageHave your say on YourViewElection Live with Stephanie Peatling


It was billed as a debate between two political mavericks but Clive Palmer and Bob Katter agreed on plenty of points when they faced off at the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday.

“Please, God, there are forces out there being unleashed and you are watching two of them today,” Katter declared in a prophetic tone, his trademark hat perched on the table in front.

The first National Press Club election debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott two weeks ago was a bland affair. There was no risk of a repeat on Monday when Palmer and Katter rolled up to the same venue to argue the case for their fledgling political parties.

Katter laid out his classic pitch about supporting food producers, saving the manufacturing industry and mandating ethanol in fuel.

The enthusiastic storyteller recounted being approached by young men in the street who understood what Katter’s Australian Party stood for.

“They punch me in the chest and they say, ‘for Australia, mate’,” Katter recalled.

Palmer, subdued in comparison, rehashed the appeal he made at the Palmer United Party launch on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday when he outlined an extensive plan to slash taxes and increase spending in a bid to increase economic activity.

“Prime ministers may come and go, but ideas go on for ever,” said the self-declared prime ministerial candidate, banging his right hand on the podium for emphasis.

They may have set up separate parties in their own names but Palmer and Katter have a lot in common.

Both are former Queensland Nationals whose political strategy depends on clinching the votes of people disillusioned with the major parties.

Both are supremely confident of their ability to win seats despite all the focus being on the main clash between Labor and the Coalition.

And both used their appearance at the National Press Club to hit out at the media.

Palmer took a swipe at Rupert Murdoch for trying to influence the election “by remote control” while Katter pleaded for journalists to give the two mavericks a fair go.

“Give us a break, give us a fair go, because if you don’t, you will break our country,” Katter thundered.

The atmosphere was chummy at times, with only friendly jousting occurring.

“He’s pretty right,” Katter interjected at one point.

Palmer, conscious of the ticking clock, replied: “Don’t take up my time, Bob.”

“I’m cheering you, Clive,” an exasperated Katter shot back.

When Palmer, who will only enter Parliament if he wins the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, was asked about the need to make MPs more accountable to their electorates, the mining magnate turned his focus to his debating partner, the long-standing member for Kennedy.

“Definitely, Bob should be much more accountable,” Palmer said.

They insist they have some different policies and ideas, brushing off questions about whether their cause would have been better served by working together and not splitting the vote in target seats.

Katter admits, however, that a recent deal to preference each other over the major parties was a natural outcome. The arrangement “took about three seconds to stitch up”, he said.

Perhaps one major difference between KAP and PUP lies in the access to money and resources.

Billionaire Palmer said the party had more than 1000 donors, and 100 people working full-time on the campaign. Palmer was coy about how much money he would personally pour into the election effort, estimating only that campaign bills would run to “many millions of dollars”.

Katter said his own party had turned away some tempting donation offers, declaring he was “very very proud of my poverty, if you could put it that way”.

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Masten says Eagles playing for their careers

West Coast may not be playing for a place in this season’s AFL finals, but some of the Eagles may be playing for their careers when they meet Adelaide at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.

And while it appears likely that coach John Worsfold will sign a contract extension to continue beyond this season, a third consecutive thumping this weekend could put some doubt into the board members’ minds.

Eagles midfielder Chris Masten said today that Worsfold has made it clear that some players’ performances this season had not been up to AFL standard.

“A lot of players are probably playing for their careers a little bit,” Masten said.

“Yeah Woosha’s made mention, a lot of the boys have not been playing up to AFL standard, and that’s not good enough.

“Where we want to be at, is we want to be winning flags and playing in finals, and we’re not up to scratch. Our players out there playing aren’t up to the AFL standard, so they’ve really got to sort that out.

The Eagles are currently in 13th place on the ladder, on equal points to (but percentage behind) North Melbourne and Adelaide.

Carlton and Brisbane are other teams ahead of them, but currently outside of the eight.

While there is a very slim mathematical chance that West Coast could still slip in to ninth place on the ladder and play finals, too much would need to go the Eagles way for that to happen.

And presently, they aren’t playing well enough for them to suggest they can beat the Crows by the massive margin required to keep that hope alive.

But with veteran Andrew Embley likely to play his 250th and final AFL game this week and Adam Selwood also a chance of being called-up for a farewell appearance, Masten said the team will have many reasons to lift for the clash against the Crows.

“We’ve probably got a 250-game player, Whack, Andrew Embley, playing his last game maybe, so it will be good to get up for that,” he said.

“And obviously the boys have got to put their best foot forward and really finish the season off well, because it’s been a bit unacceptable our season. Below par.”

The Eagles have suffered their two biggest losses of season 2013 in the past two weeks, going down to Geelong by 66 points in round 21 and by 62 points to Colingwood the week before.

A third consecutive poor performance may not do Worsfold’s chances of being re-signed for another two years any good.

Masten says that a solid performance against the Crows would be a show of support for Worsfold in his bid to be re-signed.

“Definitely, I would probably say that,” Masten said.

“The last two haven’t done any favours for Woosha, and as a playing group that’s a bit disgusting, because it would be horrible to play bad games like that and not get him another contract.

“The boys have definitely got to stand up. We all want to play for him. He’s a great coach so hopefully we can get it done.”

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Former employee sues TRUenergy over sexual harassment claim

The sexual harassment culture of TRUenergy was so bad that the head of human resources followed its managing director around the staff Christmas party to ensure he did not do anything untoward, a court has heard.

Former director of corporate and government affairs, Kate Shea, is suing the company – now called Energy Australia – in the Federal Court for unlawfully terminating her after she reported allegations that she had been sexually harrassed by then chief financial officer Kevin Holmes, and complained of the sexual harrassment culture at work.

Ms Shea reported that Mr Holmes sexually harassed her at a work function Hong Kong in 2010 to the human resources department. TRUenergy launched an investigation after she informed managing director Richard McIndoe in April 2011.

But Ms Shea’s employment was terminated after the company claimed her position had become redundant in its restructure. She claims she was unlawfully terminated due to her complaints.

Only two of the company’s 1500 employees – Ms Shea and her executive assistant – were made redundant in the restructure, and the company later hired someone else to perform the job she previously had.

Charles Gunst, QC, for Ms Shea, said in his opening address on Monday that staff – both men and women – were sexually intimidated in the workplace, with the director of human resources, David Purvis, shadowing managing director Richard McIndoe at a Christmas party.

A former female director at the party also claimed that: “(Mr Holmes) leered at me …it was so obvious and truly made my skin crawl.”

On another occasion, Mr Holmes had also pulled a male staff member’s pants down at work in front of others “leaving him stark naked from the waist down in front of others” in what was later described as a “prank gone wrong”.

Mr Gunst said that his client and Mr McIndoe had a good personal and professional relationship even after she had made her initial complaint.  But Mr McIndoe considered her later allegations that there was a culture of sexual harassment at the company that he and others condoned “blackmail against him and scandalous”.

“Within a matter of weeks…he tried to sack her. Nothing else happened, she hadn’t mucked up at work,”  Mr Gunst said. “Things happened very quickly once he was implicated.”

Ms Shea refused his demands to retract the allegations against Mr McIndoe in September. A month later, he gave her a letter terminating her employment. When she resiled, saying that this was illegal, he gave her a letter of resignation to sign.

Justin Bourke, SC, for Energy Australia, denied there was a culture of sexual harassment at the company, citing the company’s hiring of lawyers for both Ms Shea and Mr Holmes and a discrimination law expert to conduct an independent investigation after her initial complaint.

Mr Bourke also rejected Ms Shea’s allegations regarding the Christmas party, saying that a week earlier Mr McIndoe had been in hospital receiving surgery for neck cancer.

He said her argument that she was fired because she made the complaints was a “conspiracy theory”, as there were “real and pressing business reasons” for her termination within the company’s restructure. She viewed Mr Holmes as a rival in her investor relations role because he had strong finance skills, which she did not.

Ms Shea “loved” working at the company so much that she was hoping to be reinstated.

“The minute she hears Kevin Holmes is going to be in the investor relations space, after that meeting she starts describing (the Hong Kong incident) as sexual harrassment and sexual assault when she’d previously referred to those events as ‘he made a pass at me’.”

Between June and October 2011, he said that Ms Shea went on leave and threatened to speak to the media unless the company met a series of demands, including paying her $2.5 million.

The case continues.

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