Thank God I’m a coun­try boy

Chef Matt Mo­ran shares his new show, and a lib­eral sprin­kling of truf­fles over lamb chops with Deb­bie Schipp

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV -

CELEBRITY chef Matt Mo­ran is sit­ting at a rick­ety old wooden ta­ble for six, with mis­matched wooden and plas­tic chairs, on a chilly win­ter’s night in a for­mer shear­ers quar­ters at his dad’s farm a half- hour’s drive from Bathurst.

On the ta­ble are the re­mains of a tasty block of pre- din­ner cheddar, ran­dom crock­ery, freshly- grilled lamb chops, sim­ple sal­ads and sauces, and a bowl bulging with pota­toes roasted in duck fat.

The in­dus­trial heaters haven’t turned up, so an oil heater is do­ing over­time tak­ing the chill out of the room.

Mo­ran is mid- sen­tence, telling how his new cooking show, Pad­dock to Plate, might just be his best culi­nary creation yet, when he re­mem­bers the truf­fle.

A cou­ple of weeks be­fore, dur­ing fi lm­ing of his Fox­tel cooking se­ries, Mo­ran and his team un­earthed the prized culi­nary fun­gus the size of a small fi st, and have been trans­port­ing the in­gre­di­ent equiv­a­lent of black gold with them ever since.

Some­one’s dis­patched to the kitchen to retrieve it from the freezer.

Weigh­ing in at 110g, it would cost about $ 220 and the tini­est sliver of truf­fle can el­e­vate a sim­ple dish to dizzy­ing new heights.

Mo­ran calmly picks up a knife and be­gins shav­ing it on to the pota­toes.

As the pota­toes are passed around in their chipped dish, the heady aroma fi lls the room.

If ever there was a les­son in the dif­fer­ence be­tween fi ne din­ing and din­ing at its fi nest this is it. It’s a mo­ment that en­cap­su­lates why

Pad­dock to Plate is the show Mo­ran dreamed of mak­ing cel­e­brat­ing ev­ery­thing he knows, loves and is still to learn about food.

Af­ter more than 20 years carv­ing out a ca­reer as one of Aus­tralia’s fi nest chefs, Mo­ran’s show, launched last week, shares what he now loves most show­cas­ing sim­ple in­gre­di­ents, which de­mand no fancy food foams, at their best.

In last week’s de­but episode Mo­ran milked a salmon for its roe.

This week, he heads to Vic­to­ria’s High Coun­try where he meets some fear­some char­ac­ters and that doesn’t just ap­ply to the bees he’s al­ler­gic to as he gath­ers honey.

In the small town of Bright, Mo­ran is laugh­ingly put in his place by Ital­ian chef Patrizia Si­mone when he is too light- on with the salt as he helps pre­pare her fa­mous salami.

It’s mo­ments like this Mo­ran has trea­sured on his Pad­dock to Plate jour­ney his fi rst tele­vi­sion venture since step­ping down as

MasterChef Aus­tralia’s fourth judge last year. “For me this is my love now, it’s my pas­sion. That’s why I’m not do­ing re­al­ity TV,” he says.

“All those shows have their place for me, but I care too much about food and what I do and the peo­ple that pro­duce it and I want their sto­ries to be told.

“It’s me. We are go­ing out and meet­ing unique peo­ple with a story to tell, and we are cooking where we fi nd it.

“I’ve got a dif­fer­ent knowl­edge of food. I’m not rein­vent­ing the wheel when it comes to the show, but I’m putting my spin and be­lief in it. And what­ever I’m fi nd­ing, I’m let­ting the pro­duce speak for it­self.”

Mo­ran might be lib­er­ally shar­ing the truf­fles on this night a high- end touch to a sim­ple of­fer­ing but is adamant Pad­dock to Plate might sur­prise be­cause of its sim­ple ap­proach to pro­duce.

“This is where it might shock a lot of peo­ple, be­cause I think peo­ple know me as that fi ne din­ing chef,” he says.

“I’m us­ing beau­ti­ful pro­duce and just let­ting it speak.

“It’s just re­in­forc­ing to peo­ple that you can cook some­thing sim­ple and it can still be a work of art or easy.”

Of course, Mo­ran dreams of the show be­ing a hit, but you get the im­pres­sion even if it’s not, the chef has marked off a per­sonal mile­stone.

“I was con­tem­plat­ing what was hap­pen­ing in MasterChef [ in 2012], when the idea for this came up,” he says.

“I loved it be­cause I wanted to cook on a show and this en­ables me to do four or fi ve cooks on an episode and I wanted to con­nect with other pas­sion­ate nut­ters out there that care about food like me. “It’s made me fall in love with food afresh. “And shar­ing that with as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble to them is what is now driv­ing me.”

PAD­DOCK TO PLATE

LIFESTYLE ( Fox­tel), Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm

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