Cook­ery time cap­sule

Chef Paul West has left River Cot­tage to live in the big city, but he still en­joys hunt­ing down a meal, writes Louise Richard­son

Daily Mercury - - GUIDE -

PAUL West says his big­gest in­spi­ra­tion in the kitchen isn’t a per­son, it’s the world.

“That sounds like such a crappy cliched an­swer ... but for me, my big­gest in­spi­ra­tion is the in­gre­di­ents around me,” he tells The Guide.

The for­mer host of River Cot­tage Aus­tralia, which fol­lowed his ad­ven­tures farm­ing and liv­ing self-suf­fi­ciently at Tilba on the south coast of New South Wales, has left the farm be­hind him but is still just as pas­sion­ate about his food.

He’s also hon­oured to be in­cluded in The Great Aus­tralian Cook­book se­ries along­side some of the coun­try’s most cel­e­brated culi­nary icons.

“It’s a snap­shot of some of the best cooks and chefs in Aus­tralia and it re­ally is a ve­hi­cle of telling the story of Aus­tralian food through peo­ple who live and breathe it,” West says.

“I couldn’t ac­tu­ally be­lieve they asked me to be in­volved.

“It’s The Great Aus­tralian Cook­book – it’s a time cap­sule of Aus­tralia.”

The fa­ther of two ap­pears on this week’s episode to share his meal of braised wild rab­bit with salami and war­ri­gal greens.

“With wild game, they live their life as na­ture in­tended out in the world and one day it’s done,” he says about hunt­ing for his meat.

“Rab­bits are a feral species and they put a huge amount of pres­sure on our flora and fauna and it’s nice to be able to source my meat in a way that’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment.”

He says hunt­ing is also a form of mind­ful­ness for him and helps him feel con­nected to the world around him.

“It makes you feel like you’re an an­i­mal in the land­scape – you’re feel­ing the world, you’re smelling, you’re feel­ing the wind on your face, you’re feel­ing the cool rain com­ing in over the top of you and your eyes are scan­ning com­plex en­vi­ron­ments,” he says. “It’s what we were de­signed to do.”

Not that he’ll have too many op­por­tu­ni­ties to hunt for rab­bit at his new home as he tells me he moved to Mel­bourne a few days be­fore our in­ter­view.

“I don’t know what the fu­ture’s hold­ing, I don’t know how long it’s go­ing to be for but I’ll cer­tainly ex­plore what it takes to grow food in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment,” West says.

“It’s all well and good if you have 20 acres of rolling soil, but what about us poor peo­ple in the city?”

West and his wife, Ali­cia, are par­ents to seven-month-old Bowie and two-and-a-half-year-old Otto and he says if the boys leave home know­ing how to make a de­cent loaf of bread and cook for them­selves, then he’ll be happy.

“If I didn’t have two kids and a wife I’d prob­a­bly be out there some­where in a swag in a dusty cor­ner,” he says.

“My goal would be to in­stil that sense of adventure with my two sons and maybe one day they’ll go out and see the great wide world.”

West has had the chance to do a bit more ad­ven­tur­ing him­self lately, and fans can ex­pect to see him on screens again in a guest pre­sen­ter role on ABC’s Back Roads.

“For the first time it’s got ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with food, it’s not a cook­ing pro­gram.”

THE GREAT AUS­TRALIAN COOK­BOOK – LIFE­STYLE FOOD – TUES­DAY AT 7.45PM QLD, 8.45PM NSW

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