In 1986, Lorraine Godsmark switched from being a waiter to being a cook.
“I loved wearing runners and chef's gear," says Lorraine Godsmark, "and not having to wear make-up.”
Godsmark and chef George Sinclair set up Yellow in 2003 - but after several very successful years, they put the beloved bistro on the market. Lorraine wanted to work closer to her home at Whale Beach, where her neighbours include chef Greg Doyle and provedore Simon Johnson.
When she started working as a waitress to support a skiing habit, Godsmark had no idea she was on the cusp of finding her brilliant career. I ended up working in quite good restaurants. I was at Rogues in Darlinghurst when Greg Doyle was doing ground-breaking stuff - for the 1980s: watercress beside an avocado with walnut oil. Whooshy!”
When she heard that Neil Perry, with whom she'd worked before, was opening his first restaurant, Perry's, in Oxford Street in 1985, she wangled a waiting job. A year later, she moved into the kitchen. “Neil had started as a waiter, so he was sympathetic with my wanting to do the same thing,” she recalls. “When he opened Blue Water Grill in 1986, he said, ‘a big restaurant like this needs a pastry section - I think that’s where your talent lies.’ ”
Perry had read her correctly. “You have to be a certain kind of character to be a pastry chef,” she says, patient, persevering and precise. From then on, I read only pastry books.”
It was when Rockpool opened, in 1989, that she and Perry began developing the dish with which she'll always be associated: the luscious custard-and-date tart. We'd originally made a version of the date tart at Perry's. But over the years I refined it: the temperature of the cream and the eggs; sometimes we'd beat a soufflé of foam over the top. Even when I came here, I had to refine it further.” Almost two decades later, she says, “I’m still making it as often as I can.”