What's the best way to impress on Valentine's Day?

TAFE NSW floristry teacher Collette Rixon and commercial cookery teacher Ian Faust face off over the best
way to impress on Valentine’s Day.
TAFE NSW floristry teacher Collette Rixon and commercial cookery teacher Ian Faust face off over the best way to impress on Valentine’s Day.

A ‘war of the roses’ has erupted between two of the region’s TAFE NSW teachers over the best way to capture a woman’s heart this Valentine’s Day.

As the annual day of love nears, TAFE NSW floristry teacher Collette Rixon and commercial cookery teacher Ian Faust have passionately defended their ground in the age-old debate over the best way for a bloke to express their love – flowers or food.

Ms Rixon, a 46-year veteran of the floristry industry, said while the way to a man’s stomach might be food, the way to a woman’s heart was most definitely flowers.

“Flowers may not last forever but the gesture behind giving flowers is everlasting,” Ms Rixon said.

“I’m very passionate about flowers and whether it’s a single rose or a whole bunch, it’s still the single most powerful way to express your love on Valentine’s Day.”

Ms Rixon encouraged men to understand the hidden meaning in their chosen bouquet (hint: buy yellow roses for your lady and risk being put in the “friend zone”).

“Everyone knows that traditionally, a red rose is the lover’s rose, but few men know what message other colours could be sending,” she said.

“It’s best to steer away from the yellow rose – the friendship rose – unless you want the flowers potentially thrown back in your face.

“Pink (love), orange (passion and enthusiasm), red tulips (perfect love) and even white lilies (devotion) are better options.”

Mr Faust offered some alternative food for thought, saying the best place to fire cupid’s arrow was from the kitchen.

“Cooking something for someone can be an expression of your love,” Mr Faust said. “It’s easy to go to a restaurant or buy take away, you just hand over your credit card.

“But if you spend your time and effort to create a delicious meal, that speaks volumes. I’m a romantic and there’s nothing sexier than whipping something up in the kitchen for your loved one.”

And if you’re still thoroughly confused about whether to opt for the bouquet or the banquet, the choice is simple –choose both!

If you’re keen to hone your floristry knowledge or cooking skills, consider enrolling in a TAFE course by visiting tafensw.edu.au.

Ian Faust’s sure-fire Valentine’s Day recipe:

Miso and Ginger Glazed Atlantic Salmon with Japanese Sticky Rice

2 x 250gm Atlantic Salmon fillet-skin on and boneless

4 teaspoons shiro miso paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sake

1cm piece fresh ginger-peeled and microplaned or finely grated

1 lime cut in half. Juice one half and cut the other half into wedges for garnish.

1 bunch broccolini

1 cup Japanese rice

1 1/2 cups cold water

60ml liquid sushi seasoning

Oven temperature - 170 C


Scoop the miso paste into a small bowl. Add the fresh ginger, throw in the sugar, splash in the sake, soy sauce and mix. Use 3/4 to cover the fish all over. Cover and in the fridge it goes! 

Add the lime juice to the remainder of the marinade and mix. Use this as a sauce when you serve.

Put the rice in a strainer and wash really well until the water runs clear.

Place in a pot with the measured water. bring to a simmer, stir, place on the lid, and then turn down to a very low heat. Cook for 15 minutes from this point.

When cooked, remove from heat but leave the lid on for 5 minutes.

Then scrape into a non-metallic bowl with a plastic spatula. Drizzle over the liquid seasoning and ‘cut in’; using the plastic spatula for 1 minute. 

Cover with plastic to keep warm

Sear the fish in a hot oiled pan on the stovetop, skin-side up first to get some nice colour on the glaze before flipping.

Then pop it in a hot oven to finish off for about 7 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Pull out and rest fish.

Trim and steam broccolini until just cooked but still firm.

Place rice in the middle of plate, place fish on top, drizzle sauce around plate, and finish with broccolini and lime wedges

Cointreau and White Chocolate Creme Brûlée 

180ml cream

40ml milk

2 egg yolks

20gm good quality white chocolate

25ml Cointreau

20gm sugar plus extra for the toffee.


This is as simple as mixing sugar, egg yolks, and Cointreau. Boil cream and milk, add white chocolate, and stir until melted. Mix through egg and cream. Pour into two of your fave small dishes, and bake at 160 C in a hot water bath for 25 minutes. Simple but sexy!

Let it chill in the fridge next to your romantic bevvy until you are ready.

Time to dazzle with desserts. Sprinkle some sugar on the brûlée and caramelise it with your blowtorch. You can use the one in the garage, a kitchen blowtorch or even the griller.

Brulèe is French for burnt. The caramel is supposed to be bitter to contrast with the sweet custard.


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