The inside word from Gary Mehigan on his new book Comfort Food.
SERVES: PREP: COOK: PRINT CONVERSIONS
Comfort Food will be available from 29 March 2010
This is my new favourite cookbook. Admittedly, I have been keenly anticipating a cookbook release from Gary Mehigan (acclaimed chef and Masterchef Australia judge) after sitting through Friday night Masterchef Masterclasses with notebook in hand, scribbling down his ideas.
With modern takes on old classics such as Coq au Vin and many new accessible recipes, Comfort Food is perfect for the home cook. Gary provides clear & simple instruction on often complicated ‘cheffy’ technique with many useful notes scribed throughout. The food is hearty and compliments the resurgence of simple home cooking that the whole family will love. I read cookbooks like novels and it’s not very often that I feel compelled to cook every recipe in a book, but I want to with this one. I just can’t decide on which recipe to cook first.
I was also lucky enough to interview Gary this week. He’s got some great wisdom to share, including his favourite places to shop for food in Sydney and Melbourne, cooking tips for young families and more. Read on.
Even though food is work, do you get the time to cook at home and do you find it pleasurable?
I love cooking at home, a lot of chef’s say they don’t but I do, it’s a release. I have no constraints and two easy customers to please – Mandy (my wife) and Jenna (my daughter), they always love what I cook. It is more often than not a one-pot wonder because I admit I hate washing up, or, I fire up the BBQ because as I say, I hate washing up!
Masterchef’s appeal with kids is so fantastic. How do you involve your family in your cooking (apart from the eating)?
Jenna is nearly 9 now and believe me as a chef’s daughter I want her to try everything and she is no stranger to restaurants. It is after all, our world. She does, however, have an eclectic palette, loves some things and like other kids dislikes others, mainly vegetables if I am telling the truth! I find cooking with her the best way to encourage her to try new things. We cured olives for the first time together a few years ago – a crop from my tree in the garden. We waited 12 weeks for them to do their thing before I let her at them, convinced that she wouldn’t like them after all the effort – she surprised me, however, and now loves every olive under the sun!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From so many things. Reading my countless collection of cook books, the internet (there is so much to see at the touch of a button from restaurants around the world and it’s instantaneous) eating out in lots of restaurants, fresh produce as it flows into season and of course traveling and holidays. You are always learning, picking up little ideas here and there to add to the repertoire. I have learnt not to try and separate work and play, that way I get to play all the time, I love it.
What would be your no. 1 advice to time poor mums or dads that still want to cook good food?
Recipes should be cherished and passed on, there are so many mediums that you can take advice and inspiration from, a little enthusiasm is all it takes. Buy fresh and seasonal when its bountiful and cheap. Also, try and break the habit of filling your shopping trolley with the same stuff all the time, you’ll surprise yourself now and then. Buy a pressure cooker or slow cooker, they are indispensable when busy with children, there’s nothing like being able to cook a “spag bol” in 15 minutes.
Where are your favourite places to food shop in Sydney & Melbourne?
To name a few:
Melbourne – Prahran and Vic markets, Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Rd, BasFoods Victoria Street Brunswick, Casa Ibirica Johnson Street, The Cheese Room @ Simon Johnson, Chadstone, Enoteca Sileno Carlton North, Victoria Street Richmond for Vietnamese & Asian, Denches Bakery North Fitzroy, Haighs Chocolate Collins St (for the Rocky Road & Scorched Almond Block)
Sydney – Fratelli Fresh Waterloo, Iggy’s bakery Bronte, Lamonica’s IGA Store Habberfield for Italian, Pasticceria papa Haberfield, Park Road Cabramatta is a recent discovery for Vietnamese, Harris farm Cammeray, Simon Johnson Castlecrag (the cheese room again I am afraid!) and of course the Sydney fish markets.
It seems so much of the food that gets headlines these days is from chefs with test tubes and potty mouths. Where does your food fit?
Variety is the spice of life and each to his own, I suppose. As I have gotten older, I love to cook fresh food that I love to eat, be respectful of the ingredients and its source, food that is healthy, tasty and begs you to go back for a second spoonful. As for the potty mouths then food prepared with a generosity of spirit and a love of good food will always be the best and in anger will be the worst.