Get­ting down and dirty

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - ELAINE REEVES Matthew Evans will chat about his book at Fullers Book­shop on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 10, at 5pm. Book by phon­ing 6234 3800 or email rsvp@fullers­book­shop.com.au

THE DIRTY CHEF By Matthew Evans ( Pub­lished by Allen & Un­win, RRP $ 29.99)

‘ YOU know, it’s not ev­ery girl’s dream to marry a pig farmer,” Matthew Evans re­ports Emma Har­ley, wife of his Gourmet Farmer side­kick Ross O’Meara, as say­ing one day.

And I’ve no doubt it was not his own part­ner Sadie Chrest­man’s dream to re­ceive a pump for Christ­mas, even if it was a Subaru and no mat­ter how badly the pigs wanted a wal­low.

You might think all Matthew and Sadie’s life since leav­ing ca­reers in Syd­ney and try­ing to live off a cou­ple of patches of land near Cygnet has all been doc­u­mented in the SBS se­ries Gourmet Farmer, but much went un­recorded and not just be­cause fi lm­ing for 16 hours might pro­duce only 23 min­utes of telly.

What we saw and more is re­lated in The Dirty Chef.

To re­cap, Matthew left Syd­ney in 2008 to re­search and write his The Real Food Com­pan­ion in Tas­ma­nia.

Even be­fore he bought Pug­gle Farm the fol­low­ing year, the cam­era crew be­gan fol­low­ing his adventures in self- suffi ciency in­tro­duced by that throw­away line that charmed some and in­fu­ri­ated oth­ers: “How hard can it be?”

The re­al­ity was, he sought help from those who did know how to do it, those still liv­ing by an old Huon Val­ley ethos: “If you couldn’t make it, grow it, fix it or cook it, you didn’t have it.”

He and Sadie had met shortly be­fore he left Syd­ney, and some months later she fol­lowed him down, and took eas­ily to gar­den­ing, rather less read­ily to pig herd­ing.

“If your re­la­tion­ship is up to it, try mov­ing pigs with your life part­ner,” Matthew writes. “It’s a good way to have a bit of a shout at each other.”

Their son Hedley, born in 2009, has it all poul­try – lamb, pork, veg­eta­bles, fruit, milk and honey all raised by his par­ents.

Wouldn’t you know, Hedley is a fussy eater. His par­ents go to the lengths of stuff­ing veg­eta­bles into penne to try to smug­gle greens into their son. It makes bet­ter telly if things go wrong, Matthew says, and, oblig­ingly, he stuffed up fairly fre­quently such as wait­ers hav­ing to run 600m around a deer fence from kitchen to ta­ble at an out­door lunch on Flin­ders Is­land.

Such as, af­ter eight months of toil by he and Ross cook­ing and sell­ing their wares at weekend mar­kets they make $ 65 each. “So it wasn’t like we did it for noth­ing.”

Matthew still makes more money at the key­board than the plough, but ev­ery­one is eat­ing well.

“I say, as much out of as­ton­ish­ment as out of any kind of ex­per­tise, if a novice like me can grow real things with more taste, more depth, more of the in­gre­di­ent’s fl avour in it, sim­ply by giv­ing it a crack, then any­body can,” he writes.

Matthew is work­ing on another TV se­ries, not of Gourmet Farmer, but he’s prob­a­bly a tad too com­pe­tent th­ese days for a fourth se­ries to make good telly, any­way.

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