Katrina Meynink is a freelance food
writer who lives and breathes all things food. She is also a
prolific lover of cookbooks. In addition to degrees in journalism
and creative writing, she has a Masters in Gastronomy from Le
Cordon Bleu and the University of Adelaide, as well as an Advanced
Diploma in Taste through the University of Reims, Paris and Hautes
Etudes Du Gout. When she's not writing. Meynink blogs, eats and
food styles through her business La Petite Miette, The Little
Meynink has just published her second cookbook, Bistronomy: French Food Unbound. (You can enter our contest for your chance to win a
copy.) The title refers to the nascent bistronomy
movement, led by young chefs who create sophisticated food
free from the pomp and circumstance of high-end restaurants.
Meynink embraces bistronomy's concept of sharing by offering
more than 100 recipes contributed by thirty Australian and
international chefs. We asked Meynink to discuss the
How did the bistronomy movement start?
There was a slow belly grumble; an ever-growing discontentment
among both chefs and diners who wanted more from the experience of
cooking and eating. Yves Camdeborde was the chef to articulate it
with the opening of La Regalade in the early '90s; a restaurant
that embodied all the elements of bistronomy - a focus on the food
on the plate, ideas of thrift in tight economies and that sense of
community and being in touch with the dining experience. People
craved it, it was something they wanted and needed and a style of
dining they could relate to. I think from there it was a natural
progression as more diners sought that kind of experience and chefs
relished the opportunity to give it to them.
How is bistronomy different from traditional French
Bistronomy goes far beyond the traditional bistro fare,
incorporating the technical skills of Michelin level with economic
sensibility. Where French bistro is often a replication of the
classics, bistronomy chefs always say the rules are, there are no
rules. They play with different ingredients and styles. It is far
more progressive and relaxed with no definitive style or
Which chefs do you consider to be the leading lights in
The chefs profiled in Bistronomy: French Food Unbound first and
foremost. Other chefs I am really interested and am following
closely are Alexandre Gauthier, one of France's most
underrated chefs and also I'm really interested in James Syhabout
in Oakland, US. I think one of the greatest things about Bistronomy
is that it is constantly evolving as more chefs try their talented
hand at the style.
How many different countries are represented by the
chefs in your book?
Seven countries are represented by the chefs in the book.
How much does the bistronomy concept change when the
restaurant is outside of France?
I think bistronomy is actually quite a fluid concept and it is
only the tenements of the movement that are replicated globally -
freedom, generosity, spirit and the idea of frugality. It is quite
free thinking so its not something that is "purely French," rather
it is something owned and embodied by each of the chefs who
understand bistronomy and cook in this style.
How many of the restaurants covered in your book were
you able to visit?
At least 80% of them. I am still trying to work my way to
Panama. While I have eaten Jose's food I am yet to eat in his
restaurant. Watch this space.
How did you decide which chefs and restaurants to
This was the hardest component of this project - there are lots
of great bistronomy chefs and restaurants to profile and who, where
and how they work is constantly changing. In most cases "stars had
to align" - I needed some experience with the chefs, they needed to
be available and willing to participate in the book amidst their
commitments, so in many ways we found each other.
Do you have a personal favorite restaurant and recipe
from the book?
While I hold them all dear, there is something about Sixpenny in
Sydney and L'Ami Jean in Paris. As far as recipes go, who could
ever say no to James Knappett's crisp chicken skins with bacon
Photo by Matthew Duchesne