Ben there, won that
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.