The feasting friends
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.’’
Tobie Puttock and Matt Skinner have been mates since school.