THE BIG ASK MAEVE O’MARA Food Sa­fari

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

First or fond­est food mem­ory?’ From about the age of three, I re­mem­ber my dad mak­ing Christ­mas cakes and the house fill­ing with the heav­enly smells of bak­ing and warm spice. This year I’m us­ing his recipe to make the same cakes with my three chil­dren. Which is the episode you en­joyed do­ing most and why? That’s like be­ing asked to choose your favourite child. Each episode is vi­brant and colour­ful and filled with peo­ple who are in­cred­i­bly proud of what they do— happy to have a starv­ing TV crew into their homes to show us how it’s done. That said, the African episode was amaz­ing and I was sur­prised at how de­li­cious and var­ied the food was. How long does it take to do each episode? Quite a few weeks’ re­search to get the right peo­ple, dishes and places to film, an in­tense week to film and a few weeks of post-pro­duc­tion. How much of the year does it fill and what do you do when you’re not film­ing? This se­ries has taken us six months and when I’m not film­ing I de­sign and run food ad­ven­tures for my com­pany, Gourmet Sa­faris, which in­cludes all the things I adore do­ing — trav­el­ling, eat­ing and ex­plor­ing. What kind of feed­back do you get on the street and on your web­site? It’s in­trigu­ing. Our show seems to be the wa­ter-cooler ru­n­away suc­cess story. Peo­ple say they love it be­cause it’s about real peo­ple and au­then­tic food and they tell their friends to watch it. Some peo­ple tell us they un­plug their phone when it’s on. So many peo­ple seem to have seen it and adore it— even my chil­dren’s friends in the school­yard, and they’re a tough au­di­ence to crack. What’s the aim of the show— what do you want peo­ple to get out of it? Food Sa­fari aims to de­mys­tify cuisines— like a food-savvy friend tak­ing you and show­ing you key in­gre­di­ents and a few spe­cial dishes with ex­tra tips on how to eat or at least look as if you know what you’re do­ing. We hope peo­ple will ap­pre­ci­ate the foods of peo­ple of many cul­tures around them, try some­thing dif­fer­ent in a restau­rant or to cook at home. It’s not just for cooks— you end up meet­ing won­der­ful char­ac­ters on our show. What do you cook most of­ten at home? I’m not just say­ing this, but I’m al­ways cook­ing from Food Sa­fari. The recipes are so easy. My chil­dren of­ten cook things, too. My 11-yearold daugh­ter, Kitty, is an ex­pert at spanako­pita from the Greek episode. How would you de­fine Aus­tralian cui­sine? A sum of many de­li­cious parts and evolv­ing beau­ti­fully. Very few places in the world of­fer the va­ri­ety of cuisines Aus­tralia does. We are blessed. In one gen­er­a­tion, our na­tional dish has mor­phed from roast leg of lamb to spaghetti bolog­naise. It will be great to see where we go now. Is there any­thing you won’t eat? I no­ticed you strug­gled with some of the bar­be­cue meats in the South Amer­i­can episode. That was a chal­lenge . . . such a cute­sound­ing name too— chinchu­lines. Yes, some of­fal is not among my top 10 tastes in the world. And though I love to try snack foods across many cuisines, I can’t say I ever eat from the big fast-food chains. Amal Malouf (Mel­bourne’s Arabesque restau­rant), who is in our Syr­ian episode, ex­plains it well. Why waste calo­ries on the less than great— splurge them on things you re­ally want to eat. I like her think­ing.

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