Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Taste Le Tour 2012 with Gabriel Gate

One of the greatest sporting events, at least for me, is the annual Tour de France cycling race through the amazing French countryside. It is a truly grueling contest where the competitors push themselves to the limit, only to do exactly the same thing again the following day. SBS' coverage of the tour is really good and I've been watching for a number of years. They have shown great dedication to the coverage when it wasn't that popular an event. With last year's win by Cadel Evans, I'm sure this year's coverage will be more popular in Australia. A great addition to the cycling coverage is Taste Le Tour, a short segment during each stage where the foods of the region are explored by chef Gabriel Gate.

Gabriel Gate is one of my four favourite TV chefs/cooks. I really love Heston, Rick Stein, Poh and Gabriel. All show a gentler well spoken side which really appeals to me. They are all very enthusiastic about food, knowledgeable and with their fun smiles, tend to make me smile along and be happy. It was with great pleasure that I spoke to Gabriel (we're on a first name basis now :-)) about his career, passions and Taste Le Tour.

Photo courtesy of SBS, re-edited by Thanh Do.

It almost seems destined that Gabriel was to be involved in Taste Le Tour. As a young man, Gabriel was really into cycling and it was actually at a cycling camp that he started to find his passion for cooking when he had to prepare the meals for his friends. He had always taken inspiration from his grandmother who worked as a private cook and encouraged him to cook with her. The French passion for sharing the best available food and discussing about it definitely gave Gabriel inspiration for his cooking style. His style is to serve food clean in flavour, fresh and always making you feel good. It was quite humourous when I asked Gabriel who he thinks the hardest to please are. He said that people who don't talk about food also tends to be the ones who are most fussy with what they eat, a thought I agree with.

With Taste Le Tour, Gabriel flew to location of the various stages and spoke to a variety of people. Having watched many previous seasons, you'll find a relaxed Gabriel chatting to locals about their food styles, highlighting local markets, restaurants and wineries. Then with the help of some chef friends, Gabriel will cook up a dish that is popular to that region. He designs the recipes and puts his own interpretation into it. Below is a clip of a segment of the show from a previous year.

If, like myself, you've watched some of the Tour de France before, you'll surely love the vistas of the amazing hills along the tour. As Gabriel pointed out, the Alps and Pyrenese are definitely the life of the tour. The scenery is amazing for us spectators from afar, but also enjoyed by many along the sides of the road. I was surprised to hear that as an overall event, more people go along to watch the Tour de France than the Olympics. It's such a carnival atmosphere. I definitely hope to get to watch the Tour de France live one day and experience the great scenery and food for myself.

Turning our attention to food closer to us in Melbourne, I asked Gabriel about what he felt about the food scene here. As he has been living in Melbourne for more than 20 years, he has seen the dramatic changes here. Once upon a time, it was hard to buy various chicken parts or herbs, whereas now you can buy just the middle of the chicken wings which I love best. The food scene has really moved along and with Asia so close to us, obviously "Australian" food has been infused with lots of Asian touches, which Gabriel loves. For himself, he will occasionally go out to a restaurant for a special meal, but usually he cooks and is very satisfied eating his own food. Well, I can say that if I cooked as well as Gabriel, I'd be satisfied with my own food too.

I ended my thoroughly enjoyable conversation with Gabriel by asking him some quick fire questions, of which there were some surprising results.
Beef or lamb
Sweet or savoury but depends on the mood
Red or white
Lunch or dinner
Coffee or tea
Still or sparkling. Champagne all the way he says.
Chocolate or strawberry
McDonalds or KFC
Macaron or macaroon
Comedy or drama
Book or DVD
France or Australia

Below, Gabriel shares a recipe from this year's upcoming show. It's for a Crayfish Gratin, which is a traditional French recipe. This dish is quite special he says and gets served on celebratory occasions as obviously lobster is not cheap. It looks extremely delicious and I can't wait to try it out. I'd love to thank Gabriel for taking the time to speak with me. It was a total pleasure and I'll be watching him on Taste Le Tour as well as the Tour de France itself.

Langouste Gratinée (Languedoc)
Crayfish Gratin

Serves 4

Photo courtesy of SBS, re-edited by Thanh Do.

2 cooked crayfish, each about 700g
80g butter
2 shallots, chopped
50g plain flour
100ml dry white wine
2 cups milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper
50g grated parmesan or Gruyère cheese
100g fine breadcrumbs

Cut each cooked crayfish in half lengthwise. You can ask your fishmonger to do it for you if you prefer. Carefully remove the flesh from the tail. Detach and discard the intestine. Dice the flesh into 1 1/2cm squares and refrigerate until required.

Place the four half crayfish shells in a gratin dish.

Heat 50g of the butter in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and stir until almost golden. Stir in the flour and cook on low heat for a few minutes.

Whisk in the white wine. When it is well incorporated, gradually whisk in the milk and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Gently mix in the crayfish pieces and the parmesan and reheat for
2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Spoon the crayfish and sauce into the four empty crayfish shells. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and dot a little butter evenly here and there. Place in the hot oven and brown the top of the crayfish. Serve immediately.


  1. The Lobster looks delicious. I was interested to see the white sauce is made with a rou. Recently caught How to Cook like Heston on SBS where he showed making a delicious cheese sauce without the rou. Have you seen it? One day I'll try it the Heston way.

  2. Good idea to do that quick fire food related questions!

    Gabriel Gate seems like a kind, gentle man on TV! He was one of the first chefs I watched on TV.

  3. Love the tour and love Gabriel's segment. I even bought the cookbook. Level with me though, after 20 years in Australia he does ham up the accent for the camera doesn't he?

  4. Sandy, the lobster does look awesome. I have seen some of the Heston show and want to see them all soon.

    April, thank you. Gabriel definitely seemed extremely gentle and nice.

    Andy, as far as I could tell, if he was putting it on, he was doing a good job. He did not drop the accent at all during the whole interview.