My husband is getting fatter and fatter.
Each day when he comes home at the end of the shoot I ask: ‘So what was for lunch/dinner ?’
The reply goes something like this:
‘Well, there was a choice between grass fed fillet of beef or New Zealand flounder with a ginger sauce’
‘And what did you choose?’ I say, trying to sound casually disinterested instead of downright jealous .
‘Um well I had both actually... protein, you know.…
‘And was there a dessert?”
‘Oh yes, there was bread and butter pudding with roasted pears’ (for which you can substitute Pavlova, macadamia nut pie and other wicked temptations served up with vanilla bean custard and ice cream on any given day).
At breakfast there are pancakes with maple syrup and porridge with cinnamon and raisins
as well as the standard egg and fry up dishes.
According to Napoleon, an army marches on its stomach. (He was so concerned about the dietary welfare of his troops on long overseas campaigns that he instigated a national competition to invent the most travel friendly food - the inventor of tinned sardines was the winner.)
Nowhere are Napoleon’s words truer than on the set of Beneath Hill 60, where the prospect of a meal prepared by Eric, known as Cookie, keeps the morale of all troops, whether cast or crew, high. Born in Cherbourg, in north west France, he works out of Brisbane, where he also runs a wholesale meat business called Green and Gold. After time spent in the Caribbean working with Club Med resorts, he traveled to Mexico and Haiti, developing a repertoire of dishes from the world’s exotic cuisines and then set up two restaurants of his own in Brisbane- Cafe Galichet and Fleury’s - before going into the film catering business. He has provided on location catering for productions including Pacific, the Spielberg /Tom Hanks mini series on which cast the cast and crew of one thousand consumed up to 1.3 tonnes of meat a week, The Great Raid, House of Wax and Anaconda.
Eric prepares all the food for Hill 60 himself, preferring to work alone in his mobile kitchen with his wife Louise in charge of the buffet. He writes up a menu for each day, which always includes a couple of salads and a vegetarian option which was particularly appreciated by vegan cast member Bella Heathcote. He’s used to special dietary requests.
‘On The Great Raid we had thirty eight different diets to accommodate. Stars all have their own preferences. In the case of Benjamin Bratt, it was egg whites for breakfast and only fish or chicken for lunch.’
Budget is not what determines cast and crew satisfaction, according to Eric. ‘It’s like making a garden - you don’t need very expensive ingredients to make it beautiful,’ he says, adding that ‘what film people like best is a mixture of healthy food and comfort food. They want variety, freshness and balance, but they don’t want rich fancy restaurant food.’
The act of eating together at the start of the shoot is like a kind of unofficial communion, bringing everyone together to share sustenance before the arduous work begins. Each and every member of the production has probably given thanks at least once for not being on the dreadful rations that barely sustained the men at Ypres. But when you see the conditions they are working under, slogging it out in the middle of a chilly night wading through mud, they certainly look like they deserve that second helping of pud.
Pears and milk chocolate bread and butter pudding served with a warm caramel sauce
Caramel sauce .Butter unsalted : 250 gBrown sugar : 250 gCream : 800mlCorn flour : 2 tea spoonWater : 50 ml
Sauce :Melt your butter slowly add your brown sugar stir it to the point to become creamy and lighter colour add your cream and cook slowly for a good half hour. Finish with a 2 tea spoon of corn flour .
Pudding:Fresh pears : 8Butter : 40 gBrown sugar : 60 gEggs : 6Castor sugar : 150 gCream : 600 mlMilk : 1 litreRaisin Bread : 1 packMilk Chocolate button : 250 gSoft butter : 100 gCinnamon : ½ tea spoonHoney : 50 mlVanilla essence : 2 tea spoonsAll spices : ½ tea spoon
Peel your pears and cut them in chunky quarters, melt butter in pan, sauté the pears and add brown sugar. Sauté cook for a few minutes to the point that the sugar melt around the pears should take couple of minutes. Stay next to your fry pan, you do not want burn the sugar .In the bowl put white sugar + eggs + honey + cinnamon + all spices + vanilla whisk for a few seconds add your cream and milkButter your slice of Raisin bread take your baking dish, pour some milk first at the bottom of your dish just to cover the bottom.Put your first layer of bread, add pears + chocolate, pour your mixture, add your next layer of bread, press the bread with your hand to make sure that the bread infuse all the egg mixture. Do the same process for 3 layers, cook for 40 minute in a 160 -170 c oven ( check with a knife if it’s cooked, the blade of your knife should be clean and hot if not let the dish cook for a few more minutes ) .When cooked, let rest the dessert for a 10 minutes. Sprinkle some icing sugar to the top served with your warm caramel sauce and if want to be naughty some lovely vanilla creamy ice cream and a lovely glass of champagne.