De­li­cious duo

Matt Moran and Mag­gie Beer tune up their taste buds for a tempt­ing Bake Off

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

IT takes a lot to lure famed Aus­tralian cook, food au­thor and res­tau­ra­teur Mag­gie Beer out of her beloved Barossa Val­ley bolt­hole.

When she stepped down from her cook­ing show The

Cook and the Chef in 2009, Beer, 70, thought she was done with TV.

Oc­ca­sion­ally she could be en­ticed into an ap­pear­ance on MasterChef. Last year, celebrity chef Matt Moran took his show to Beer for an episode of Pad­dock to Plate.

So when pro­duc­ers of the re­ju­ve­nated Great Aus­tralian

Bake Off (GABO) wanted Beer to judge along­side Moran, they lay their trail of crumbs care­fully.

“I re­sisted for a long time. I don’t like leav­ing the Val­ley,” Beer con­fesses.

“The big car­rot they put in front of me was that they would sup­port my foun­da­tion [The Mag­gie Beer Foun­da­tion] – which is try­ing to change the food in aged care across Aus­tralia. The other thing is, I like to learn. If you stop learn­ing you stop liv­ing. And I like to laugh.”

Fast-for­ward to the set of GABO and the vi­brant vet­eran cook is do­ing both as she en­thuses over recipes, coos over con­tes­tants and gives old friend Moran as good as she gets – de­spite a blush of em­bar­rass­ment reach­ing her cheeks when she re­alises he has shared a story of how her straight­down-the line re­ac­tion dur­ing a taste test of the fa­mous English pud­ding named Spot­ted Dick left the crew con­vulsed in laugh­ter.

“We laugh so much on this set,” Beer says. “The con­tes­tants are lovely, the team is great and Matt is such a gen­tle­man. He’s all rough on the edges, but un­der­neath he’s a big pussy­cat. And [hosts and co­me­di­ans] Mel [But­tle] and Claire [Hooper] are just crack­ers.”

But this is no mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion so­ci­ety – Beer the in­stinc­tive cook and Moran the tech­ni­cal chef hap­pily pit their food cre­den­tials against the other, and revel in their dif­fer­ences.

Moran claims “bak­ing cred” be­cause he trained as a pas­try chef and his first busi­ness was selling cakes and tarts to a del­i­catessen.

“She could cook a bet­ter tast­ing scone, she does it by feel and in­stinct,” he read­ily con­cedes, then, search­ing for the win adds “but I’d dec­o­rate it bet­ter”.

“I’m more tech­ni­cal. There was a mo­ment a week ago that I turned to her and said: ‘Mag­gie, I’m re­ally sorry but I have to dis­agree’, and the minute it came out my mouth I thought: ‘I’m go­ing to get hate mail, be­cause I’m ar­gu­ing with Mag­gie Beer’.”

Beer, who prides her­self on be­ing de­scribed as a cook “be­cause I was never taught, I cook in­stinc­tively”, laughs off the com­pli­ment, and the dis­sent.

“I’m rus­tic and I’m rough around the edges and I’m driven by flavour and tex­ture and feel, she laughs.

“Of course, I don’t have tech­nique – you should see my knife-work it’s bloody aw­ful. And I’m a messy cook. It drives Matt nuts.”

In a world where au­di­ences are drown­ing in food-based re­al­ity tele­vi­sion, the pair be­lieves GABO will work – and work well in its new home.

As Beer says, “what is a food show is now on a food chan­nel”.

Moran says the feel-good, back-to-ba­sics ap­proach which is “more true to the UK ver­sion” means some­one is elim­i­nated, they’re gone, there’s no dra­matic build-up, no dra­matic back story.

And he says GABO has one mas­sive, vi­tal in­gre­di­ent: “Mag­gie. She just res­onates with peo­ple.”

Pic­ture: Sam Ruttyn

Ready, set, bake: TheGreatAus­tralianBakeOff’s Matt Moran and Mag­gie Beer.

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