The feast­ing friends

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Pay-tv - SARAH NI­CHOL­SON

TO­BIE Put­tock and Matt Skin­ner go way back. The pair, who co-host To­bie & Matt on the LifeStyle Food chan­nel, have been mates since they were kids.

Skin­ner even jokes it was Put­tock’s fault he didn’t have a lot of op­tions when he left school.

‘‘Part of the rea­son I didn’t do so well at school was be­cause I sat next to To­bie — he was my dis­trac­tion,’’ Skin­ner says with a laugh.

‘‘We go way back. We met 20 years ago when we were in de­ten­tion. We were so sim­i­lar and we kind of grew up to­gether.

‘‘We trav­elled to­gether. We lived to­gether. We shared good times and bad.

‘‘He is my clos­est and best friend and I am just for­tu­nate that what he does re­lates to what I do.’’

Put­tock drifted into a kitchen and went on to be­come one of Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful chefs — work­ing with Jamie Oliver in Lon­don and ap­pear­ing on Jamie’s Kitchen Aus­tralia. Skin­ner be­came a renowned som­me­lier.

‘‘When we fin­ished our fi­nal year he got a job in a kitchen and I landed a job in a bot­tleshop — and we would catch up on our days off,’’ Skin­ner says.

‘‘He would cook some­thing he learnt at TAFE and I would bring a bot­tle of wine, and that was the first time we put food and wine to­gether. It wasn’t con­scious. He was just cook­ing and I was match­ing wine.

‘‘Tobes spoke at my 21st and said he hoped we would run a restau­rant to­gether and, though we haven’t had our own restau­rant, we have opened a few to­gether and now we have done this pro­gram.’’

The pair of­ten talked about do­ing a TV show when they were liv­ing in the UK. It wasn’t un­til they were ap­proached by Wall to Wall Pic­tures that the idea for To­bie & Matt came to­gether.

Put­tock de­scribes the four-part se­ries, in which the pair travel around Europe and visit fa­mous food and wine des­ti­na­tions, as a ‘‘food, wine and travel show’’.

‘‘It was like our dream pro- gram,’’ Skin­ner says. ‘‘In each coun­try I find a dif­fer­ent grape variety and Tobes puts some dishes to­gether to get a sense of re­gional food and re­gional cook­ing.

‘‘The idea be­hind it is that we would just go trav­el­ling.

‘‘We have spent the best part of five years do­ing se­ri­ous things, open­ing restau­rants and writ­ing books, and it was nice to do a bit of learn­ing again.’’

Put­tock and Skin­ner ad­mit to learn­ing a lot about the other per­son’s spe­cial­ity while they were mak­ing To­bie & Matt.

‘‘I spent four weeks with Matt and I learnt some­thing from him ev­ery sin­gle day, which was awe­some,’’ Put­tock says.

‘‘I had a very sim­plis­tic un­der­stand­ing of what goes with what.

‘‘I didn’t know wine brands or la­bels, but now I can sit down and eat some­thing and know it goes with a dry white or a fruity white.’’

Skin­ner says he learnt about the food he was eat­ing from the sto­ries Put­tock would tell while he was pre­par­ing a dish.

‘‘I learnt about flavour com­bi­na­tions and how they change, and about sea­sonal pro­duce,’’ Skin­ner says.

‘‘I also learnt about the his­tory of food, in Tus­cany es­pe­cially.

‘‘The first thing ev­ery­one no­tices there is that there’s no salt in the bread and I found out that’s be­cause there were such heavy taxes on salt back in the old days.

‘‘To­bie throws about so many lit­tle pearls of wis­dom like that.’’

Spe­cial bond:

To­bie Put­tock and Matt Skin­ner have been mates since school.

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