Mo­ran’s got a lot on his plate

Celeb chef Matt Mo­ran con­cedes the hero of his new­est TV se­ries might not be the food. By Deb­bie Schipp

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

MATT Mo­ran is a man with a lot on his plate. He’s spent 25 years carv­ing out a culi­nary em­pire which has ex­tended to eight restau­rants, more than 600 staff and es­tab­lish him as a celebrity chef, com­plete with the cook­books and cor­po­rate deals.

So it’s ironic that his lat­est cre­ation – se­ries two of tele­vi­sion se­ries Pad­dock to Plate – sees his food al­most take a back seat to the Aus­tralian land­scape.

But for Mo­ran, it’s a tri­umph which saw him and the Pad­dock to Plate team cross more than 20,000km across South Aus­tralia and Western Aus­tralia to find the area’s best pro­duce and the sto­ries be­hind them.

“We did ar­eas in­clud­ing the River­land in SA, the Barossa, Eyre Penin­sula, WA’s south­ern forests, the Mar­garet River, up to Perth and the Gas­coyne then all the way to Derby,” Mo­ran says. “The cin­e­matog­ra­phy in this show is un­be­liev­able. It’s just so beau­ti­ful.”

Mo­ran laughs rue­fully. “In many ways I think the vi­sion is bet­ter than the cook­ing.”

Along the way Mo­ran gets to in­dulge in what is al­most a ‘ boys own’ ad­ven­ture, us­ing scuba div­ing skills learnt for sea­son one to swim with a mil­lion dol­lars’ worth of bluefin tuna of South Aus­tralia. He dives for pearls off Broome. He fishes for bar­ra­mundi at Cone Bay and for pink snap­per at Carnar­von. He prods out gi­ant mud crabs ac­com­pa­nied by a bare­footed lo­cal armed only with a stick, and musters a one mil­lion acre farm in a he­li­copter.

He courts con­tro­versy in episode two, go­ing duck shoot­ing in scenes he al­ready knows will elicit a viewer kick- back. Of the seg­ment, Mo­ran is un­ruf­fled, and un­apolo­get­i­cally re­al­is­tic.

“The fact is the peo­ple I joined eat ev­ery­thing they shoot. It is their pro­tein,” he says.

“Hunt­ing this way is sus­tain­able, the fam­ily has done it this way for gen­er­a­tions. They take only what they eat. They have had this farm in the fam­ily for 150 years. They have always shot ducks as part of their diet.

“I thought about duck shoot­ing as a sport – but this was dif­fer­ent in what­ever we shot, we ate. To me it was like rais­ing lamb or beef cat­tle. All I can say is that dur­ing the film­ing of this pro­gram there were lots of an­i­mals were, well, not harmed, but eaten in the mak­ing of this show.”

The re­sults of the nine weeks of film­ing are stun­ning, and Mo­ran says while he is “in­sanely proud” of the re­sult – and reck­ons it is even bet­ter than se­ries one, which net­ted an AS­TRA Award for Most Out­stand­ing Life­style Pro­gram, knock­ing off long- time win­ner Sell­ing Houses Aus­tralia – film­ing “took it out of me” this time.

He split blocks of film­ing with his “real job” over­see­ing the eight restau­rant busi­nesses – Aria, Chiswick, North Bondi Fish, Art Gallery, Opera Bar, Opera House and Aria in Syd­ney and River Bar in Bris­bane.

“On a day in Syd­ney that prob­a­bly means of­fice work in the morn­ing, maybe some food tast­ings then lunch for Aria, then do­ing the rounds in to North Bondi, Chiswick, the Opera House ones, Art Gallery and having a nib­ble at each one,” he says.

“Then back to Aria early even­ing to do a bit of ser­vice then on the way home its gen­er­ally Chiswick for an en­tree, North Bondi for main then I go home and have a piece of choco­late.

“I don’t run out of en­ergy. I’ve spent 25 years do­ing some­thing I love.”

PAD­DOCK TO PLATE Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Life­style Chan­nel ( pay TV)

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