Gerald Touchard has cooked his way around the world. Finally hanging his chef’s hat in Sydney, he now calls Australia home. Starting the Northern Beaches Private Chef in 2020, he creates exclusive dining in people’s homes. To present his culinary creations, he turns our Palinopsia pieces into ceramic fine food canvases. Our hard-wearing, stoneware dinner sets help him transform suburban dining tables into hatted eating experiences.
‘I’m Gérald, but everyone calls me G. Originally from Montpellier in the south of France, I left there in 1998 to chase opportunities as an international chef. My life changed after I met some dynamic Aussie chefs while working in a UK Michelin star restaurant. They charged my curiosity about this place and people, and I headed for the harbour city in 2003. I immediately knew this was home and spent the next decade cooking in Sydney’s hatted restaurants.’
‘My life changed after I met some dynamic Aussie chefs while working in a UK Michelin star restaurant.’
‘On holidays in Portugal, we stayed with my parents’ friends who ran a bakery. My earliest food memory is the smell of rustic-style sourdough, still warm from the wood-fired oven. The bread was so different from our usual baguettes; it must have intrigued me (or been a palette-starter in sourdough speak) because the memory has stayed with me. No wonder my prized possession is my wood-fired oven where I bake the sourdough for my dinner parties and events.’
‘On holidays in Portugal, we stayed with my parents’ friends who ran a bakery. My earliest food memory is the smell of rustic-style sourdough, still warm from the wood-fired oven.’
It’s no secret that chef-life can be challenging. But if you make it, the perks are pretty tops: world travel, creative freedom and life-long connections. Palinopsia crossed paths with Gérald in 2020, and after seeing the synergy of our pursuits, we started collaborating on photoshoots and private dinner events.
‘Clients always tell me how special a private Chef experience is. While the main misconception is cost, home hosting means my team works with you to design a personalised menu that I cook fresh in your kitchen. Talented wait staff provide seamless service, and after your meal, we leave your kitchen immaculate. My tailored private dining experiences start from $150 per person – the same as dining out. Enjoy an evening without opening hours or seating sessions, and sip your favourite wine minus the heavy markup. My purpose is to create considered, delicious food.’
Gérald sees a couple of clear food favourites. The savoury dish pick? His take on southern France’s famed Bouillabaisse. This beautiful seafood broth features delicate white fish, poached in the soup, served with cuttlefish, prawn, scallop and crab meat. On the side – a little saffron aioli and sourdough croutons. The #1 dessert delight? His Valrhona: a French soft-centered, dark chocolate fondant, served with an orange tuile and vanilla ice cream. Yum.
‘My secret ingredient is salt. To flavour cooking, bread and cured salmon, I use a beautiful, natural Celtic Unrefined Grey Salt. To finish my seasoning, I use delicate Murray River Pink Salt Flakes. In lockdown, I’m experimenting with old-school food preservation like prosciutto and lemon. I’ve also taken on the time-consuming task of making cheese. When you get into the grind (or rind), it’s a meditative method.’
Like any small business owner, we know balancing family, work and life takes constant tuning. Gérald isn’t alone in not having it down pat yet. But, we also know when you love what you do, you find time to make it all work.
‘Launching my business at the beginning of 2020, I’ve had to navigate the pandemic restrictions. But, surprisingly, since COVID, personal chef experiences have been in demand – people still want to celebrate in style. Adaptation is everything; I introduced personal group cooking lessons with all bookings on hold in the first lockdown. In the second lockdown, virtual cooking classes have been the way forward. There’s always a way to learn.’
‘I’ve cooked many meals for an incredible array of people. From Princes to billionaires to my Mum, the common ground is that meals that mean something are the most memorable. This is why each of my menus is client-centred. I’ve met lifelong friends and life-changing clients throughout my 25-year career. They’ve become part of my personal and professional support system.’
‘I’ve cooked many meals for an incredible array of people. From Princes to billionaires to my Mum, the common ground is that meals that mean something are the most memorable.’
‘I’ve met lifelong friends and life-changing clients throughout my 25-year career. They’ve become my personal and professional support system.’
Working with Gérald, our tableware has teamed up with a kindred to co-create an exceptional experience. Reach out to Gérald for a fab food feast or learn how to make a classic chocolate fondant in an interactive online class.
Photography by Dom Cherry
Palinopsia Ceramics Sabe Collection