Be Our Guest

Chefs’ tips, invit­ing spa­ces, Ital­ian fare

Australian House & Garden - - CONTENTS -


Dap­per dresser Matt is known for his ar­ray of cra­vats as well as his warm, avun­cu­lar on-screen role as a judge on MasterChef Aus­tralia. He’s also an ac­claimed food journalist and au­thor with five cook­books un­der his belt and a sixth out in Novem­ber. I’m al­ways ex­plor­ing new flavours. My next book is all about easy, quick recipes from around the globe, so I’ve been spend­ing a lot of time play­ing with sig­na­ture flavours from the world’s great cuisines. Korean and In­dian are a cur­rent ob­ses­sion – and so sim­ple, when you mas­ter them, to get mon­ster tasty flavours. Ital­ian and Mus­lim Mediter­ranean are long-term ob­ses­sions. Thai, Viet­namese and Ja­panese are other go-tos for in­spi­ra­tion.

The most in­flu­en­tial cook­book I’ve ever read is Harold McGee’s On Food and Cook­ing. It’s a bril­liant and very ac­ces­si­ble work on the sci­ence of cook­ing. The River Café books are great for tasty, no-fail recipes. And Mar­garet Ful­ton’s Encyclopedia of Food and Cook­ery is an­other reg­u­lar read. For an easy, mid-week fam­ily din­ner

I cook teriyaki ocean trout or salmon with crispy skin on brown rice. Or my mother-in­law’s lamb, wal­nut and pineap­ple braise – a coun­try clas­sic. Or any­thing from my last book! [ Yummy Easy Quick, Pan Macmil­lan]

For Sun­day lunch I love a slow-roasted lamb shoul­der with a roast beet­root and feta salad. Or slow-roasted, crispy five-spice pork shoul­der with killer Asian slaw and roasted Brus­sels sprouts. Must-have kitchen uten­sils in­clude

a heat-re­sis­tant sil­i­cone spat­ula: it’s cleaner than a wooden spoon and en­cour­ages

gen­tle fold­ing – cheap and valu­able. Also, a good, fine-toothed mi­croplane for fine grat­ing: ex­pect to pay about $40 for a de­cent one. And two good vegetable peel­ers: a straight-edged one and the other a multi-toothed juli­enne peeler for shred­ding veg for slaws and pick­les (the best $12 you’ll spend in the kitchen). I al­ways play mu­sic when I cook,

every­thing from trash disco to old soul. Favourite artists are The Son­ics, The Black Keys, Sun­ny­boys and what­ever is on my chil­dren’s playlists – Lit­tle Uzi Vert, Child­ish Gam­bino, Sticky Fin­gers, DMA’s, Tay Tay.

In the kitchen I wear my beau­ti­ful brown leather apron made for me by Col­lect­ingPret­tyBoys – it’s age­ing to a bur­nished sup­ple­ness and is easy to keep clean. Oh, and tough Aussie-made work boots. The cra­vat is my Sun­day best and has no place in the kitchen!

My pet hate is all that te­dious chop­ping re­quired to make stir-fries. I love to cook for peo­ple. It helps that I al­ways have new recipes to try out on un­sus­pect­ing friends who will give me hon­est feed­back – though not as bru­tally hon­est as my chil­dren! I’d rather have ‘peo­ple over for din­ner’ than a din­ner party. It’s about the peo­ple rather than the food, al­ways. For back­ground mu­sic

when en­ter­tain­ing, I play some­thing laid­back like An­gus & Ju­lia Stone, cruisy dub or some­thing from the

Blue Note jazz col­lec­tion for the

first part of the night, then pass round the con­trols and let my guests DJ. If you’re pre­par­ing a din­ner party,

do as much as you can in ad­vance. Go for share plat­ters to make life eas­ier – one meat or seafood side and two in­ter­est­ing sides that are good enough to eat on their own.

My favourite tip­ple is Tan­queray and tonic. I like it with un­usual gar­nishes, such as rose­mary and pear, or grape­fruit and thyme. I love mak­ing cock­tails, too. I think a sig­na­ture cock­tail for the night makes guests feel more val­ued when they ar­rive. MasterChef Aus­tralia airs Sun­day to Thurs­day at 7.30pm on Net­work Ten.

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