Inspired by the market garden at his Sydney restaurant, Chiswick, Matt Moran’s fourth cookbook celebrates fresh, locally grown produce.
Featuring plenty of the flavour combinations that have made him a culinary superstar (pickled vegetables with home-made dukkah, anyone?), Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook taps into a market of increasingly curious home cooks who want to know where their ingredients come from — and maybe even grow them themselves.
“I think it’s probably a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” he says. “People want to know where their food comes from now. They want to know who’s producing it and what’s happening to it. That’s the reality. That’s what people are excited by these days.”
The book contains over 90 recipes, and at the rate Matt throws together new combinations in his kitchen, you get the feeling it could have contained a lot more.
“I come up with recipes every time I’m at home and I put a meal together,” he says. “You know, once you know what flavours go with what, it’s pretty easy to come up with a recipe. It’s like anything — you get bored of things, so you’re always moving forward and progressing.”
For the most part, the recipes in Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook are fairly simple and accessible for people at home – but there is a certain degree of difficulty involved with some of them.
“Look, I think there has to be a mixture,” he says. “Some people like to be challenged a little bit more. At the end of the day, most people want to be able to pick up this little book and say, right, I’m going to eat this tonight and this is what I’ll need to make it, so you have to make it fairly easy for them. But you want to have a few dishes in there that are a little bit more challenging, that they can sink their teeth into on the weekend.
“You know, I entertain at home a lot, and just because I own fine dining restaurants doesn’t mean I eat that sort of fine dining when I’m at home. Most of these are recipes that I knock up at a Sunday lunch quite easily. Simplicity’s not a bad thing when it comes to food.”
23 years after he launched his first restaurant, Matt now boasts an empire that includes ARIA (overlooking the Sydney Opera House and harbour), Chiswick and North Bondi Cafe in Sydney, as well as a second ARIA restaurant and Riverbar & Kitchen in Brisbane. His charisma and genuine passion for food make him a natural in the age of the celebrity chef – everyone’s a ‘foodie’ now, extending his audience and his influence further and further still.
“That’s a great thing,” he says. “The more the public know about food, the better it is for us, I think. People know what the better restaurants are and what the better dishes are, because they want to eat better. If you’ve got a pretty average restaurant, you’re the one who’s going to suffer.
“I think [the foodie craze] will last. I think that’s because people have a thirst for knowledge. People want to know what they’re eating and where it comes from. People have become more knowledgable about food, and they’ve become more adventurous. Now we’re growing different things, and we’re growing more things, and we’re educating ourselves as we go along. It’s not something that’s going to die – people’s thirst for knowledge is always going to get bigger and better.”
Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook is out now and retails for $49.99.