Daily Life

License article

Kitchen spy: Pascale Gomes-McNabb

Inside the kitchen of Australia's restaurant designer of the moment.

Show comments

As Australia's restaurant designer of the moment, Pascale Gomes-McNabb might be expected to have the perfect home kitchen. But she's a bit too busy putting her mark on some of Melbourne and Sydney's top dining destinations; her own kitchen in an inner-Melbourne terrace has been on the wait-list for attention for several years. Gomes-McNabb is fitting out a new upstairs wine bar for Cumulus Inc. (which she co-owns), while in Sydney she recently gave Claude's a makeover and is now pulling together the interior for Monopole - the new Potts Point venture by Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt of the Bentley. She lives with son Tove, 8, and cat Cheetah.

My home kitchen is functional, albeit tiny, and in definite need of a makeover. The ideal home kitchen configuration is triangular so that the fridge, sink and stove are all within a few steps. At least my kitchen achieves that!

My new home kitchen will be functional, practical, good-looking and have simple details, durable and tactile materials - stone, timber, metal - a smattering of hard-working appliances, plenty of storage (floor-to-ceiling cupboards running along a wall), a counter to sit at, good lighting and large sliding glass doors to a deck and garden, with fresh herbs a step or three away.

When I cook, I cook very real, rustic food with lots of flavour. I make roasts, stews, osso buco, and Asian stir-fries and dumplings - a hangover from my time spent living in Shanghai and Hong Kong. My mother is a very good cook. She is a burgher; Sri Lankan of Dutch-Portuguese descent. She took French cooking lessons when we lived in London when I was very young, but cooked curries for special occasions. My signature is a simple chicken-and-rice dish - similar to a biryani - and a pear-and-almond tart.

My most-used cookbooks are The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking (Barbara Tropp), Moro East (Sam and Sam Clark), The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Claudia Roden), Jerusalem (Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi), Family Food (Heston Blumenthal) and The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.

My local: in Sydney I stay with my sister in Elizabeth Bay. Restaurant Fratelli Paradiso Groceries Fratelli Fresh Bread Bourke Street Bakery. In Melbourne I buy fruit and vegies at farmers' markets and the organic section at the Queen Victoria Market. Meat Hagen's Organic Meats at the Queen Victoria and Donati's Fine Meats (Lygon Street). My favourite cafe Beatrix (North Melbourne).

Favourites: my kitchen clock Tove was learning to read the time and I could not find a clock with numbers on it. So I bought this tiny, minimalist Georg Jensen clock and we painted the numbers around it. It was fun, and he has been drawing on the walls ever since. Objects I bought my first antique teapot at age eight, and Michelle Garnaut, whom I worked for in Shanghai, had a collection and fuelled my passion; I love their form, shape and use. I have about 20. This stainless-steel one is my favourite. It's a Robert Welch design, from the 1950s. Butter dish I love green glass. I bought this in Shanghai. A lot of pressed (uranium) green glass was made in the 1920s and '30s.