It’s been a few years since you were at the Festival and Noosa, what are you looking forward to most about returning?
It’s true, it’s been a while since I’ve been at the festival, however I visit Noosa every year with the family. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s new, speaking with exceptional Aussie producers and other chefs as well as chatting with the wider Noosa community! And it also helps that it’s overlooking one of the most beautiful beachfronts! – couldn’t ask for much more in a place really!
You are a champion for using local produce – what do you love most about it?
It just tastes that much better!! It may come from my childhood growing up on a farm, or the fact that I still have a farm to this day so I’m in tune with the seasons and eating locally from the land. It’s just the best way to eat. I like enjoying ingredients while they’re here and when they go out of season, look forward to having them back again. We are so lucky in Australia to have some of the best ingredients in the world right at our doorstep.
You were a part of Oz Harvests CEO Cook Off – why is this important to you?
I really hate waste! I had a simple upbringing on a farm and we only ate what was available and nothing went to waste. Now living in the Sydney city it’s evident that we have such an excess amount of food at our fingertips and a growing population who are struggling to make ends meet. OzHarvest rescues edible food from going to landfill and redistributes it to those who need it. I love that they also help educate the next generation of Aussies about food and sustainability and help vulnerable young people find employment in the hospitality sector as well. I’ve been a part of OzHarvest since it began and I’ll continue to support them as much as I can.
How did cooking in the kitchen lead you to being in television?
It’s a strange one! If you said to my 15 year-old self standing by the grilling station at Penrith RSL that I would have been a host on prime-time cooking shows I would have laughed!! It truly evolved naturally I was approached to do one show and it just went from there. For me, I guess it’s another medium in which I could showcase my love of cooking to those that couldn’t make it to my restaurants in Sydney and Brisbane.
You have kids - how important is it go get the kids involved in cooking?
My kids loved helping in the kitchen when they were younger but they’re teenagers so nowadays they’re more preoccupied with other matters! But I do think it’s incredibly important to gets kids helping in the kitchen, especially when they’re young. They enjoy it and it also educates them about where their food comes from and teaches them skills. Not to mention, it’s also a really nice way of spending time with the kids!
What is your favourite ingredient to work with at the moment?
I have a few! Autumn produce has some amazing ingredients that help give you a little warmth. For instance, pumpkin, beautiful with spices and roasted, or in soups! Eggplant for that smoky, bitter and sweet taste in one. And fig for something sweet - perfect on top a pizza with gorgonzola, pickled onions and vincotto; or in salads with ripped with blue cheese scattered throughout or sliced on top of a tart. Delicious!