This year marks Scott Pickett’s 25th year in the kitchen. He’s the man behind two of our most beloved north-side restaurants, Estelle and Saint Crispin, and in November he will release his first book, A Cook’s Story.
The cookbook is far from just a catalogue of recipes. It also tells the story of Pickett’s acclaimed but grueling career as a professional chef, from his days as a 14-year-old kitchen hand, to his near-penniless years in London, to now.
“I wanted to do something different, not just a cookbook that was full of chef-y, restaurant-y recipes,” Pickett says of the chronological volume. “The recipes evolve and change and become more intricate as I learn to cook.”
Simple recipes from his younger days include a Thai barbecue chicken salad and a warm chocolate torte (“the first time I learned to whip egg whites.”) As the book progresses, the recipes become more refined. For instance, a dish of roast duck with orange, coriander and shitake mushrooms – “a true Paul Bocuse classic” – Pickett says, referring to one of his former employers. A “light, buttery” marron bolognese harks back to his days at The Point in Albert Park. Newer Pickett fans will also be satiated; A Cook’s Story includes recipes for some of his signature dishes at Estelle and Saint Crispin.
Through its narrative and recipes the book pays homage to the cooks who were instrumental in Pickett’s career, including world-renowned French chef Philippe Mouchel and Michelin-starred chef Philip Howard of The Square in London.
Pickett says his story, which he co-wrote with food writer Rita Erlich, will give readers a frank look into the world of the professional chef; one that’s often-unglamorous, hostile to relationships and frequently accompanied by financial stress.
“I found it an extremely therapeutic process to look back on my adult life thus far,” the 38-year-old says. “How my thought processes have changed, how my food’s changed, how I’ve changed as a person.”
“I’m now a father with three children and two restaurants, as opposed to when I was 18 and never wanted kids, never wanted to be married. I just wanted to live that real 1990s chef rock’n’roll lifestyle.”
We couldn’t talk to Pickett about his first cookbook without asking about the books that influenced him. “White Heat by Marco Pierre White,” he says immediately. “That really, truly inspired me to go to London – to want to see and play with the big boys.” Melburnians can be thankful he did.
Broadsheet will be featuring a series of six exclusive videos that offer a sneak peek into the recipes and anecdotes inside A Cook’s Story. The book is available for pre-order now at scottpickett.bigcartel.com.