Ben there, won that

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

HE MIGHT en­joy ma­jor celebrity chef sta­tus in Bri­tain, but Ben O’Donoghue has no con­cerns his in­ter­na­tional pro­file could slip. O’Donoghue trav­elled to farflung parts of Aus­tralia with Cur­tis Stone to film He also worked with Dar­ren Simp­son and Anna Gare on and it seems it’s here he wants to stay. ‘‘We set­tled in Bris­bane for fam­ily rea­sons,’’ O’Donoghue says when asked why he left his long-term base in Lon­don. ‘‘My wife’s mum lives up in the north of Bris­bane, and her dad lives in By­ron (Bay), and mov­ing back to Aus­tralia now with three kids she wanted to be close to her par­ents. ‘‘We’ve just bought a house in An­ner­ley and it’s in a great po­si­tion be­cause it’s close to the city and close to the mo­tor­way so we can get down the coast and have a surf. ‘‘We’re just start­ing to find our feet be­cause it’s hec­tic now that we’re back in Aus­tralia; it seems I’m busier.’’ The fam­ily of five had one stop on the jour­ney from Lon­don to Bris­bane, spending a month in Perth so O’Donoghue could film the sec­ond sea­son of Aus­tralia Aus­tralia. Surf­ing The Menu. The Best In The Best In If you liked the first se­ries of the cook­ing show with a com­pet­i­tive edge, O’Donoghue prom­ises you will love the sec­ond. ‘‘It has im­proved,’’ he says of the show. ‘‘Last sea­son we had four judges and they must have taken my ad­vice and re­duced that to three be­cause four was al­ways one too many. There was a hung jury most of the time, so the re­sults should be far more clear-cut this time. ‘‘The com­pe­ti­tion will be far more com­pet­i­tive. The gloves have come off and it will be faster and more en­ter­tain­ing. Dar­ren is still in­tensely an­noy­ing and Anna is fan­tas­tic, as usual.’’ In each episode of The Best In O’Donoghue, Simp­son and Gare are given two cook­ing cat­e­gories — from the best break­fast eggs to the best one-pot won­der — and they must each come up with a dish to sub­mit to the judges. ‘‘We have a pretty good mix of cat­e­gories this sea­son,’’ O’Donoghue says. ‘‘I think the wok wizard was pretty good, the slow-cooked meat dishes were good recipes and the meat lover’s bar­be­cue was fan­tas­tic. ‘‘I don’t care if I win or not, what I want is for the view­ers to cook the recipes, that’s more im­por­tant to me. Aus­tralia, ‘‘I want peo­ple to be able to cook some­thing rather than me win the com­pe­ti­tion and the au­di­ence not be able to pre­pare that dish. ‘‘I had some recipes and I made some oth­ers up, some clas­sic recipes were rein­vented, and you could say I won my fair share of chal­lenges, but you al­ways want to win more.’’ Any­one who seen has The Best In Aus­tralia will know the three cooks share a great screen chem­istry. ‘‘ I didn’t know Anna (the part­ner of for­mer Aus­tralian and Chicago Bulls bas­ket­ball star Luc Lon­g­ley), but I knew Dar­ren. I worked with him in Lon­don at The River Cafe, and it comes across that we have pretty good chem­istry, but you should see the out- takes,’’ O’Donoghue says with a laugh. ‘‘No, we get on OK, but some­times he gets up your nose, but that’s just Dar­ren.’’ Be­cause O’Donoghue and Simp­son both had their chil­dren with them in Perth, the two fam­i­lies spent time to­gether dur­ing film­ing. ‘‘I had my chil­dren with me, and Dar­ren had his, so we had a few fam­ily din­ners,’’ he says. ‘‘And his lit­tle boy kept try­ing to kiss my daugh­ter. They are both about the same age and I had to keep that lit­tle rat­bag away from my daugh­ter. I know what his fa­ther is like so I don’t want him to go near my girl.’’

Right mix: The Best In Aus­tralia’s Anna Gare, Ben O’Donoghue and Dar­ren Simp­son.

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