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The best of Gretta Anna

 

'My mother Gretta Anna Teplitzky…had cooking in her genes,’ says her son, Martin Teplitzky.

Born in New Zealand with Spanish-Jewish heritage and a great-grandmother who was chief recipe-tester for Queen Victoria, it is no surprise that she went on to be come a one-name wonder in Sydney, during that pivotal time for home cooks, as she hugely widened the culinary horizons of her students. 

Unsurprisingly, considering his own heritage, Martin Teplitzky went on to become a chef (counting the iconic Berowra Waters Inn as just one of many successes on his CV) and now has come full circle to opening his own cookery school, Take2Eggs, on the premises of that original school, pioneered by Gretta Anna in their own home.

But back to Gretta Anna herself. Although known throughout Sydney by her first names, it was her husband David who says  ‘it was my idea for Gretta to do a cookbook’.  At that time she was young, she had three children, and there was already the cooking school. She was so generous, simply giving away her recipes, that a cookbook was definitely needed – and it would sell!

Self-published, with only 5000 copies in 1978, it became the foundation of an ongoing career for Gretta, and countless dinner parties for students and their friends! Her cuisine was classical French and in more than 30 years she taught over 35,000 women in her Gretta Anna Teplitzky School of Continental Cookery. Her carrot cake and apple strudel became legends, along with French onion soup, bouillabaisse and coq au vin and many, many more.

Even though her two previous books were huge sellers, not only do many of those recipes deserve to be shared with new generations of cooks, but in this large volume, seventy new dishes are featured, including some of Martin’s as well.

The recipes are beautifully photographed by Ben Dearnley, and also each dish has an introduction written either by Gretta Anna or Martin, and sometimes, both, perpetuating the manner in which these dishes first reached the public: with explanations and, in some cases, a modest fanfare.

Nor are they out of reach, even for beginner cooks. There is a progression. The Perfect Roast Chicken is surrounded by many dishes using chicken, some of them perfect for a special occasion, others simple and quick enough to cook for dinner after work.

Sadly Gretta Anna will not see this book. She died, aged 81, in 2010, but those who remember her will see her shadow and hear her voice in every dish, every instruction, and be grateful for her generous contribution to our tables.

 

The Best of Gretta Anna with Martin Teplitzky, by Gretta Anna Teplitzky & Martin Teplitzky, published by Lantern, 2015, hardcover,  rrp A$49.99.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

 

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