Harmony the crucial ingredient
YOUR stereotypical chef is impatient, finicky and prone to throwing the occasional tantrum.
Seeing Simon Bryant and Maggie Beer at work on the set of The Cook and the Chef, however, there’s not the slightest hint of aggression or ego. So well do Bryant and Beer get on that in only three years they’ve notched up 100 episodes of their cooking show.
‘‘Most chefs take 10 years to do 100 episodes, because they only do eight or 10 shows a year, but Maggie and I are mad and we do 40 shows a year,’’ Bryant says.
‘‘When we started we were all learning, Maggie and I and the crew, and it was hard and we were probably terrible. I can’t watch those early episodes, but people stuck with us and here we are.
‘‘The biggest challenge Maggie and I had was being overly polite to each other. Chefs are used to running their own shows so when you put two together they’re either really polite or really competitive.’’
Bryant says the secret to the success of The Cook and the Chef is that it offers two things to the viewer; it exposes them to new products and lets them learn a few tricks of the trade.
‘‘Great chefs aren’t renowned for sharing,’’ he says. ‘‘People in the trade are not about sharing. Each chef has secrets that they covet, but that’s not what I am about and, as a chef, I have a lot of secrets that I’m more than happy to give away.
‘‘Maggie is a very generous person. She has a lifetime of experience. She will stand up there and give things away, and some of the things are hard-earned tricks and secrets.’’
Though Bryant is now regarded as one of Australia’s top television chefs, it almost didn’t happen.
‘‘I could never make up my mind about what I wanted to do,’’ he says.
‘‘I left school to become a mechanic, then I went back to university and did economics, but those horrible HECS fees meant I had to get a job at the student union to pay my fees.
‘‘They dumped me in the university cafe kitchen and the day I walked in I finally felt like I was at home. It was a big kitchen, and everyone was busy and running around, and I felt like that was where I was meant to be — and that hasn’t changed.’’
The ton: Simon Bryant and Maggie Beer have racked up 100 episodes.