New Zealand-born chef and MasterChef: The Professionals judge Monica Galetti picks her favourite foodie cities, for street food, barbecue, food markets and fantastic restaurants
Singapore has a real reputation for food. What I love about Singapore is the street food (pictured, above). I’ll try everything that they have. They do the local crab, a dish they have which is in the street food but also in the great restaurants. It’s spiced crab with lovely deep fried bread rolls.
The street food is done in the middle of the city and they just close the streets off, shut down the streets and put the tables out. You get all these stands – it looks like a marketplace in the middle - where you can go and line up for a stall, or they can come and take your order as well, as long as you take a seat near their area. As long as there’s a table available, you just rock up, take a seat. It’s so much fun.
It’s a place where a stall might just cook one dish, but they’re masters of that one dish. It’s completely varied. There might be a stand that just does sweets, for example, or one that does kebabs, or another where all they do is seafood.
Spice is a big thing there in Singapore and I quite like spicy food. For me, eating in Singapore a dream thing to do.
I’ve been to Sydney a few times and it just has an incredible variety of food. There’s such a great foodie scene. It’s also one of the first places I ever really travelled to to try food when I was still cooking in New Zealand, so I have very fond memories. I did a lot of competitions throughout Sydney. It was such a great country to visit as a young chef starting out.
Sydney does seafood (pictured, above) incredibly well. Australia in general has incredible seafood. They can source such incredible ingredients, like Moreton bay bug, which look like little aliens, but are a bit like crayfish and very meaty. They have a huge amount of them there but they’re hard to get outside of Australia.
I also love the markets in Sydney, and around Sydney Harbour Bridge they have all the amazing restaurants within walking distance.
New York has such a mix of what you can eat, from really high end dining to cool barbecue places and the quick style food they do so well. They have great Asian restaurants, a lot of Italian in the mix as well. There’s huge diversity and it’s done very well.
I’m a real foodie, so I’ll try everything, from queuing up to try one of the best pastrami sandwiches that the city has to offer, along with all the pickles. I like to find the greatest things that they have there, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be the simple things that they do.
For restaurants, 11 Madison Park is a favourite restaurant right now. It’s a contemporary American restaurant, run by chef Daniel Humm (pictured, above).
Copenhagen is famous for places like Noma (pictured, above) and has great high end restaurants; everyone who loves food has gone there to try Noma. But I also enjoy trying lesser known restaurants that I think are up and coming now.
One of my favourites at the moment is a place called Relae. It’s very small, very cool, not formal, very casual. There’s loud music playing, the waiters are very open, and they only do something like 10 tables. They draw the menu on the tables, and it’s a set menu, with a vegetarian option or ones with protein. It’s very simple but delicious food.
Foraging is the big thing in Copenhagen. There’s another place I went to when I was there called Geranium and I think they’ve got their third Michelin star now. Again, it’s about fresh ingredients; simple, but delicious.
But, perhaps, no one does it better than Noma.
London is one of the best cities in the world for me. It definitely has to be in the Top 5. It has such fantastic diversity. London is where you want to be for a food scene. I can’t see it being any better than what we have. Again, you’ve got the little street food scene happening, the Pop-Ups that are coming along. There’s a lot of nurturing young talent right through to great established restaurants. We’re spoilt for choice, from very high end dining to places that are casual but very good.
We also have great food markets (Spitalfields, pictured, above) with fresh produce. Londoners have learnt you don't have to always shop at the supermarkets. The bars are fantastic, too. I’m a big fan of The Barnyard, a cool little bar.
You have the restaurants that people know about, like La Gavroche which is so famous, and amazing talents like Tom Kerridge who are big names worldwide now. People come to the UK to try their places. But then you have young emerging talent. There’s such a range of cuisine available throughout London.
Monica Galetti’s new book The Skills is out now, published by Quadrille, £20. See www.quadrille.co.uk