Boyhood ambition led to career in kitchen

Billy Allan No. 7 Balmac, Dunedin

Why and how did you become a chef? I wasn't too interested in school work, it is the only profession that I wanted to pursue from a very young age.

Biggest professional challenge? Finding the right staff with knowledge, although I am lucky to have working with me talented people and also the constant challenge of sourcing quality produce. Favourite ingredient?Seafood is always a favourite, but it can be a challenge to get a consistent supply.

Best cooking tip? Using your hands, they tell you so much.

What type of food do you like to eat? Anything home-made, at the moment we are enjoying making our own mozzarella and ricotta.

Who cooks at home? 99% of the time my wife who is a fantastic chef in her own right.

Favorite meal? Lots of items cooked on the BBQ set out platter style so you can help yourself, or any kind of informal meal.

Favorite kitchen gadget? Electronic kitchen probe thermometers, so useful for temperature checking of meats, baking and jams plus lots of other applications

How have people's tastes changed/latest food trends?People's culinary awareness has increased with all the food shows, cook books and internet resources, people are increasingly open to trying new ingredients.

Battle of TV cooks Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver? Gordon Ramsay would technically be far ahead of Jamie Oliver. Jamie Oliver has great personality but he is very limited in his style, but it works for him.


Flourless chocolate pudding

RECIPE

No. 7 Balmac's Flourless chocolate pudding

Ingredients
400ml cream
650gm dark chocolate
6 free range eggs
150gm brown sugar
1 pinch of cinnamon
100gm castor sugar
150gm mascarpone
10 greased ramekins

METHOD
To make ganache, melt 250gm of chocolate and 400ml of cream over a bain marie. Once melted put aside. Melt the remaining 400gm of chocolate over a bain marie. Remove once melted.

While that is melting, separate the eggs. Beat the brown sugar with the eggs yolks; when it is fluffy, add the cinnamon. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly rain in the white sugar until hard peaks form. Whisk mascarpone until stiff.

Place the ramekins in an oven tray with sides. Pour the first melted chocolate ganache evenly into each ramekin. Fold second chocolate mixture into the egg whites, then fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Combine both mixtures and evenly distribute between the ramekins. Fill the tray with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover the tray with foil and bake at 180degC for 40mins. Remove from the oven and allow the puddings to cool in the water bath. If you want to reheat them, you can do so in the microwave, then run a knife around the ramekin and tip pudding on to a plate. The sauce will flow over the top.