Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q& A -

James Ree­son has cooked in the gal­ley of a Saudi prince’s yacht ( it wasn’t as swanky as you might think) and the kitchen of a 200-seat restau­rant. But ac­cord­ing to the English­man, they all pale in com­par­i­son to his adopted home­land of Aus­tralia. The star of TV shows like The Oc­ca­sional

Cook and James Can Cook, Ree­son can now be seen ev­ery week­day Alive and Cook­ing, which takes him around the coun­try in search of the finest lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and the best ways to present them.

“ It’s so ex­cit­ing to be able to do what I love five days a week and in­spire view­ers across Aus­tralia to have fun in the kitchen and treat their taste buds with fresh food,” said the surf-loving chef, who con­sid­ers Aus­tralia a foodie’s par­adise.

James, you’ve worked in kitchens all over the world – is that jet-set­ting life­style one of the draw­cards?

I didn’t re­alise you could travel with cook­ing un­til I got into it. Once I did, that was one of the things that re­ally kept me in it. You’d be work­ing in kitchens with guys from all over the place and they’d say things like ‘ Yeah, go to Ar­gentina!’ You can pretty much drop a chef in any kitchen in the world and he’d get on bet­ter than he would in the out­side world.

So what brought you Down Un­der?

I’ve been in Aus­tralia 16 years now. I’d al­ways wanted to come here. As far as surf­ing and trav­el­ling were con­cerned, Aus­tralia was pretty much my Mecca. I first came here on hol­i­day with a girl­friend and just fell in love with the place. As soon as I got back to the UK af­ter a month, I said ‘ Right, where are the ap­pli­ca­tion pa­pers? I am out of here!’ It took me about six weeks to get back here. In my first three years in Mel­bourne, I spent the win­ters up at the snow and the sum­mers down at the beach. It was par­adise.

When it comes to cook­ing, how would you defi ne your style?

It changes on a whim, re­ally. The only con­stant would be fl avour. I think about what a dish will taste like be­fore I’ve even started, and that leaves it open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion. It’s more of a stylis­tic ap­proach than an ac­tual style it­self. Right now, for ex­am­ple, I’ve just fin­ished a black-bean can­nel­loni, which sounds odd, but it’s minced chicken, Swiss brown mush­rooms and black beans in a rice-pa­per can­nel­loni. I’m just de­cid­ing whether to add a creamy sauce – it doesn’t re­ally work with black beans and rice pa­per but I think it will with this dish.

You do Alive and Cook­ing five times a week – do you ever worry about run­ning out of recipes?

Well, a com­mer­cial cook­ing show doesn’t limit your op­tions. When we first started

Alive and Cook­ing, we knew we had to do 150 episodes so we’d need 400 recipes. Where do we start? I had blank pages ev­ery day for the first week but then I found out we’d be work­ing with this par­tic­u­lar com­pany so we had th­ese par­tic­u­lar prod­ucts. That was the start­ing point.

Road-test­ing those 400 recipes, how’s your hit-to-miss ra­tio?

The ra­tio would be 1 miss in 100 but I am talk­ing about com­pletely ined­i­ble stuff . [ Laughs] But even when you’re do­ing some­thing off the cuff , you can gauge how it’s go­ing as you’re trav­el­ling. The fl avour you want mightn’t be hap­pen­ing with your in­gre­di­ents.

Did you ever think you’d end up cook­ing on TV?

No, I never dreamed I’d do it. When I first started cook­ing, it wasn’t re­ally some­thing that was hap­pen­ing – there were a few he­roes out there but it didn’t re­ally seem achiev­able.

Now that your pro­file has been raised by

Alive and Cook­ing, have you found you’re be­ing ap­proached for culi­nary tips?

Ab­so­lutely. When­ever you’re around food, peo­ple al­ways ask you for ad­vice. This is over­stat­ing it a lit­tle but it’s like be­ing a doc­tor. The minute some­one finds out you’re a doc­tor, they’re telling you about their aches and pains. The minute some­one finds out you’re a chef, they’re ask­ing you about recipes. It’s one of the great equalis­ers – we’re all in­volved in eat­ing three times a day.

Alive and Cook­ing,

at 3pm

WIN only, week­days

Ree­son: “ When­ever you’re around food, peo­ple al­ways ask you for ad­vice. It’s one of the great equalis­ers – we’re all in­volved in eat­ing three times a day.”

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