Thursday, 15 January 2015 23:21

There's No Taste Like Home-Grown

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Since launching his first restaurant 23 years ago, Matt Moran has continued to tantalise the tastebuds of everyday patrons and cooking connoisseurs alike. Jemmah Kelly speaks with the celebrity chef about his new cookbook, Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, and why when it comes to produce, fresh is always best.

Matt Moran’s long-standing love of food and local produce has been a constant driving force throughout his highly- successful culinary career. The celebrity chef has appeared on popular television shows such as MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules and his own television series Paddock to Plate.

He is also restaurateur of a number of acclaimed restaurants, including ARIA and North Bondi Fish in Sydney, in addition to a second ARIA restaurant and Riverbar & Kitchen in Brisbane. However, it wasn’t until Moran opened the doors to his Sydney restaurant, CHISWICK, that his appreciation for locally-grown produce would truly manifest itself. With an onsite kitchen garden at the heart of the operation, the restaurant’s menu is truly seasonal and changes accordingly.

It is this idea that underpins Moran’s fourth cookbook, Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, which is tailored to those who want to know where their ingredients come from, and perhaps even grow their own. Here, Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design speaks with Moran about how to enjoy home-grown produce at its seasonal best.

THE SEEDS YOU SOW

For Moran, seasonality is the key ingredient to achieving a delicious and balanced meal. As such, Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook includes a diverse range of flavoursome and accessible recipes, each highlighting fresh and locally- sourced produce.

“Seasonality is very important. It means when we are using asparagus for instance, it’s in season and when it’s not we shouldn’t be buying [it] from other countries – we should be looking forward to getting it back again,” says Moran.

Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook incorporates a range of sweet and savoury recipes that are best made with fresh local produce, many of which are designed to be shared with family and friends. With dishes as diverse as pickled vegetables and home-made dukkah right through to slow- cooked lamb with hummus, tomato salad, and meringue with passionfruit curd, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into.

“They’re pretty straight-forward recipes – there’s good combinations there,” says Moran.

“The lamb is always well-received, as is my seafood tagine with saffron couscous ... [and] they’re all important to me, they really are. They all have some sort of importance.”

Utilising local produce is something Moran is truly passionate about, and he hopes readers will find the book inspiring as well as practical. Regardless of whether you have yard space to accommodate a traditional veggie patch, or a small pot of herbs growing on the windowsill of your inner-city apartment, there’s no reason why you can’t reap the benefits of fresh, high-quality produce.

“I think it’s important that we know where our vegetables come from. We should all be growing something – even if you’re in an apartment block you can have a little pot of herbs.
“Once you have the confidence to do one little thing, it’ll just get easier and better.”

HELPING HANDS

In recent years, Moran has observed a significant increase in the number of community and market gardens in and around the Sydney region. Not only do these prosperous plots provide community members with a fresh supply of fruit and vegetables, they also bring people together and teach them to value what they’re eating.

“I think it’s been happening for a while in parts of Sydney, and parts of the suburbs have been doing community gardens. It’s not a fad, it’s a reality, and more people will do it and it’s a great thing.

“There’s nothing better than seeing a little plot on the ground that would normally be useless and someone’s putting some veggies in it – that’s fantastic [and] I’m all for it.”
This also applies to the children who are benefiting from school kitchen gardens. Here, primary students are able to learn where their food comes from. They can also grow, harvest and in many cases, cook their own produce.

“I think it’s important for every kid to know where produce comes from ... [and that] kids from a very young age know the importance of fresh food,” says Moran.

FRESH IS BEST

Of course, Moran acknowledges that we can’t be expected to grow everything ourselves, however, he firmly believes that everyone can at least make an informed decision about how and where they source their food.

It’s no secret that the celebrity chef has long- been a champion of the local growers and farmers of Australia. Indeed, when filming his award-winning television series on The Lifestyle Channel, Paddock to Plate, Moran seizes every opportunity to showcase these passionate producers and share their stories.

“There [are] a couple of stories [in the book] on the producers I use ... If you know the story behind where it comes from, it always tastes a lot better,” says Moran.

“I get up every day and kick myself and think how lucky I am. I love food, I love produce, [and] I love educating people – it’s important to me. ”

“The industry has been very good to me and if I can give something back, that’s fantastic.”

Whether you’re a foodie, a farmer, or just a curious home cook, Moran hopes that anyone intrigued by growing their own produce or sourcing it locally will be able to enjoy the recipes in Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook.

By pairing your own edible garden with Moran’s mouth-watering recipes, you too can reap the rewards of home-grown produce.

 

Read 41644 times Last modified on Friday, 16 January 2015 03:35