First came Dig­ger...

Now Paul West is adding mar­riage and a baby to River Cot­tage Aus­tralia

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By TIFFANY DUNK

WHEN Paul West first hit screens on River Cot­tage Aus­tralia, he didn’t ex­pect the most com­mon ques­tion he’d be asked was why he was on his Tilba prop­erty alone.

The chef-turned-sus­tain­able farmer, along with his ca­nine side­kick Dig­ger, has en­ter­tained view­ers for three sea­sons with his cook­ing, charm and in­tro­duc­tions to the lo­cal coun­try char­ac­ters.

But while we’ve been in­vited into West’s home, we’d never seen the oth­ers who live there – his fi­ancee Ali­cia Cor­dia and new baby Otto.

Cor­dia had cho­sen not to be part of the show. But West thought it was time that should change – and Cor­dia and Otto, who re­cently turned one, make their on-screen de­but in the first episode of sea­son four, air­ing this week.

“Over the years peo­ple have been ask­ing a lot of ques­tions like, ‘Oh, what’s he do up there [in Tilba on NSW’s Cen­tral Coast]?’,” West says.

“But you know, my part­ner has been there the whole time, so hav­ing her and Otto ap­pear very briefly in this sea­son is just a lit­tle ac­knowl­edg­ment to that ques­tion.

“Ali­cia’s not go­ing to be pre­sent­ing a seg­ment in sea­son five – Cook­ing Baby Food with Leish – or any­thing like that, just to al­lay any ques­tions or doubts you might have.”

They’re not the only new ar­rivals on screens this sea­son.

West has en­listed an ap­pren­tice – Bega boy Har­ri­son Balodis, 21 – to help out as his busi­ness ex­pands.

“He’s switched on for a young fella, he’s good – he’s got a good teacher,” West says of the new hire, who was a pro­duc­tion run­ner be­fore be­ing drafted for the on-cam­era role.

“That might have been the other rea­son we put Ali­cia in this sea­son. All of a sud­den there’s this good­look­ing young male ap­pren­tice on the pro­gram. I think there might have been some Broke­back Moun­tain as­so­ci­a­tions … ‘Oh, that’s how it works in Tilba’.” Jokes aside, West can use the help. In ad­di­tion to his du­ties on the farm this sea­son, he’ll be tak­ing the cam­eras out­side the Tilba bor­ders, tour­ing the coun­try in a food van.

“When we go over the Great Di­vide we get into a to­tally dif­fer­ent cli­mate and there­fore very dif­fer­ent pro­duce,” he says of what the ad­ven­ture will bring to the show. “And as a food van, you’ve got a mo­bile kitchen. So you can cook with the lo­cals and, in a way, give back to the com­mu­nity that has wel­comed you.”

As usual, the food cooked up on River Cot­tage this sea­son will fo­cus on sus­tain­able pro­duce. West will also cook up a de­li­cious home­made ver­sion of an Aus­tralian clas­sic – the Monte Carlo bis­cuit.

“We did a Chico Roll in sea­son two, the Monte Carlo is our new Aussie clas­sic recipe,” he says. “Maybe it’s time to sit down and write a River Cot­tage Aussie Clas­sics Reimag­ined cook­book. The Tim Tam could be the next thing.”

Un­til then, West will con­cen­trate on nur­tur­ing both his land and his new fam­ily.

“Fa­ther­hood is fan­tas­tic,” he says. “Your fo­cus just changes – all of a sud­den you go into nur­ture mode. It’s less that nar­cis­sis­tic-self ap­proach where you think about what you want and your­self and your life. You’re start­ing to pour your en­ergy into some­body else’s life and it’s the best. I’m to­tally into be­ing a dad.”

Even Dig­ger – at first af­fronted by be­ing de­moted in the fam­ily peck­ing or­der – is com­ing around to the cot­tage new­comer.

“Otto is now feed­ing him­self so that means there’s a lot of food on the ground,” West says. “Dig­ger’s fi­nally made the con­nec­tion that Otto means ex­tra food for him, so it’s now the be­gin­ning of a life­long friend­ship.”

RIVER COT­TAGE AUS­TRALIA

LIFE­STYLE FOOD, TUES­DAY, 7.30PM

Fam­ily af­fair: Paul West’s fi­ancee Ali­cia Cor­dia and baby Otto will join him on this sea­son of RiverCot­tageAus­tralia.

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