I first started to use Microplanes when I was working for Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo at Le Louis XV, around 2003. I’d maybe seen them before but not the full range with all the different sizes. Much of the cooking was Mediterranean and as we were located close to the Italian border, we made lots of risotto. As a young chef, you get all the great jobs. I remember grating blocks and blocks of fresh Parmesan every day for risotto – even with a Microplane it was a really tedious job!
The best brand is called Microplane. The design is based on a woodworking instrument used by carpenters, but someone was clever enough to take the idea and bring it into food. It’s an essential piece of kit for any good chef. Professionals used to go to work with a chopper, a boning knife and a filleting knife in their bag. Now they have all the different graters as well [Microplane’s professional series, starting at $16.95, includes a fine grater that is used for zesting fruit, spice grating and for Parmesan; a coarse grater designed for grating chocolate, hard cheeses, coconut and carrots and an extra-coarse grater for shredding vegetables or grating soft cheese]. I have three at home in different grating sizes. They’re easy to store – much smaller than the old-fashioned box grater – which is a bonus.
We have an island in the centre of our kitchen and the kids sit at the end of it while we’re cooking. My pans, herbs and spices, good olive oil and good salt are all close to hand. I love open-plan living and my kitchen is the hub of the house. I have a magnet on the wall where I keep my knives and put the graters on that too. Michaela [Tom’s wife and business partner] prepares a lot of home-cooked meals for the kids in the week. We have four [Kasper, 10, Axel, seven, and twins Lachlan and Logan, five] and she works in the restaurant as well, so there’s never enough time. I often see her use the grater for garlic. Chopping a clove can be quite a pain, especially for the domestic cook, so to be able to start cooking just by rubbing it on the finest grater is great.
When I’m not at work on a Sunday, we’ll sometimes do lunch and the kids will want a quick dessert so I’ll grate a block of chocolate with the coarser grater and boil some cream, drop the chocolate in and you have the fastest chocolate sauce ever. Serve that, with bananas and ice cream, and you’ve got some happy kids. Every now and again, we might bring home a truffle and quickly grating that over a soup or fish really makes it special.