Katrina Ryan is the chef and co-owner of The Golden Pig Cooking School in Newstead. She shares her favourite recipes and Christmas tips for a successful holiday season.
Her favourite Christmas meal is not one that you would certainly expect. Katrina said that it was “the Christmas lunch when I found an antique ring that I had lost. I bit down on something very hard in a slice of walnut and quince jelly tart and it was the ring! It had come off when I was making the pastry a couple of weeks before. My husband had originally given it to me for Christmas when we first met. Very serendipitous!”
If you are looking for some tips to help make Christmas cooking that little bit easier, Katrina has some great ones. “Prepare as much as you can the day before, all sauces, desserts such as berry/cherry trifles and peel, bone and marinate any meat or seafood. You want to spend the morning lounging around in pyjamas opening presents!”
A love of eating and dining in restaurants as a child created Katrina’s passion for food and guided her to become a chef.
Before deciding to start up a cooking school, Katrina taught at Spirit House for many years as well as undertaking regular visits to teach at Sticky Rice Cooking School in Adelaide. “When we moved to Brisbane in 2012, I wanted to utilise my skills and create a school that offered a wide variety of lessons in different cuisines and skills as well as wine and beer education.”
A signature dish that she always seems to come back to is a salad of tea smoked salmon with fresh figs, labneh and walnuts finished with a drizzle of vincotto. While her most refreshing meal for the summer months include a Thai watermelon salad with fresh coconut, mint, coriander, lemongrass & sticky pork.
Her cooking philosophy is to “always taste everything and think about the balance of the dish or dishes that you serve together. A delicious meal has varying textures and balance between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, wet and dry, oily/heavy and light and fresh.”
The best piece of advice she received was from Andy Davies, now Head Chef at Locale, Noosa. “He taught me very early on in the kitchen to do everything as fast as you can. It holds you in good stead when you are flat out busy.
“I’m a strong believer in the adage, ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today,’ it keeps me focused and productive.”
While the biggest lesson Katrina has learn’t over the years is “that there is no right way to do anything and to be open to different techniques and approaches.” Katrina’s proudest moment was when she was asked by prominent Australian chef Neil Perry to be his head chef at Rockpool in 1988.
Her favourite spots for a good meal in Brisbane include the Birds Nest in the Valley, Becofinos for pizza, Maru Korean BBQ and Arlette’s kitchen in Albion for a beautifully cooked classic bistro style meal.