Three things with Analiese Gregory: ‘Instead of taking souvenirs I buy a knife’

In Guardian Australia’s weekly interview about objects, the white tablecloth chef turned wild cook shares her love of knives and her on-the-go coffee maker

Four years ago, Analiese Gregory shook things up. After a career spent working as a chef at fine dining restaurants like Paris’s Michelin-starred Le Meurice and Sydney’s Quay, she packed up and moved to a small town in Tasmania.

The idea was to pursue a simpler, more sustainable life – one where she could raise animals and grow her own vegetables, rather than spending 16 hours a day in a commercial kitchen.

“It was a huge, huge change for me,” she says. “The first day I bought the house I drank champagne out of plastic cups and was jumping around on the bed like, this is amazing! I burned all the curtains in a bonfire because they were so ugly. And then the second day, stuff was just falling apart. There were spiders everywhere. Everything was dirty. I hated it and I sat in the kitchen and cried. So it’s been a rollercoaster.”

Her tree change – one which, spoiler alert, Gregory ended up loving – has been documented in a new SBS series, A Girl’s Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Wild Cooking. The eight-episode program began on SBS Food this month and will be available to stream on SBS On Demand as each episode drops.

Whichever part of the world she’s in, Gregory rates her collection of knives as her most cherished possession. Here, she tells us about those indispensable utensils, as well as the story of two other important personal belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire

I would save my knives because they’re the tools of my trade. My knives are a mix of things I bought around the world – some are from small Japanese makers from when I walked into a tiny shop in Kyoto, others I bought in Paris.

My favourite is a sashimi knife I got when I was cooking in California one time. I was in America to do a thing at the CIA – the cooking school, not the bureau! – and realised that I had to cut raw fish and hadn’t brought a knife with me. So I treated myself and went to this place called Bernal Cutlery, which is the highest end knife store in San Francisco, and splashed out on a really nice knife.

I’ve collected my knives from all over the world, so they’re quite special to me. They’re all different and I’ve got over 60. Instead of taking souvenirs from places that I go, I buy a knife.

My most useful object

A V60 style filter coffee maker
A V60 style filter coffee maker. Photograph: Mr.wuttisak Promchoo/Getty Images

My V60, which is a filter coffee pour-over thing. Coffee is my biggest vice and the thing that I’m most addicted to. But I’ve cut back so now it’s about quality over quantity – it used to be the opposite.

These days I’ve moved into filter coffee. It’s the thing I take travelling with me everywhere, and making one is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.

The item I most regret losing

When I was young, about 13 or 14, my mum gave me my grandmother’s watch from the 1930s. It was a really cool, silver art deco thing that you had to hand-wind. And you know when you’re young, and you just don’t fully grasp the significance of items, or you play fast and loose with everything? So yeah, I just lost it.

Now I really regret losing it because my grandmother has passed away and that was the item that connected me with her. I’m really annoyed at young Analiese for just not looking after stuff! I haven’t told my mum yet. She lives in New Zealand, so hopefully she won’t read this.

Contributor

As told to Katie Cunningham

The GuardianTramp

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