Celebrity chef Matt Mo­ran on why Pad­dock to Plate is his per­sonal TV tucker tri­umph

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

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 film­ing of his Foxtel cook­ing se­ries, Mo­ran and his team un­earthed the prized culi­nary fun­gus the size of a small fist, 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 fills the room.

If ever there was a les­son in the dif­fer­ence be­tween fine din­ing and din­ing at its finest 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 finest 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 lighton 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 first 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 find 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 find­ing, 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 fine 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 five 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.”


Full plate: Pad­dockto

Plate host Matt Mo­ran.

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