Hero of the dish
Matt Moran on why the second season of Paddock to Plate is an Australian visual feast
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 60kg and a million dollars’ worth of bluefin tuna of South Australia and swallows a fair few sardines along the way. 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 the long-time winner Selling Houses
Australia – filming “took it out of me” this time around.
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 it’s 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
Picture: Nick Wilson