A taste of what I have been up to...
The past few months for me have been all about my new TV show, Paddock to Plate. And what an amazing few months it’s been! What started it all? A desire to leave the kitchen and go in search of the best Australian produce that I could find. The show is a road trip, that sees me travel around parts of regional Victoria and NSW, embarking on a journey that’s close to my heart. I meet some of the best growers, producers and farmers that the East Coast of Australia has to offer and cook plenty of delicious dishes in some truly unique locations. It took three months to film and at the same time I was lucky enough to tick a few things off my Bucket List – from milking fresh water salmon (who knew!), to diving for abalone and truffle hunting. The show has taken me back to my roots and reminds me the love that I have for the land.
I’ve been in the food industry for a long time, some 28-years, but the people that I’ve met filming Paddock to Plate, and the knowledge that I gained from this experience, has been incredible and so inspiring. It’s made me realise how beautiful and diverse this country is and how lucky we are to have the produce we do, in our own backyard.
Without giving too much away, my first stop was the beautiful Yarra Valley. It’s a world-famous wine region, but you might be surprised to know that it’s also home to some of the smelliest and slowest produce. Can you guess what?
From the Yarra I hopped on my bike and rode into the High Country of Victoria and met up with a local legend who taught me how to make her famous salami – something I’ve never done before. Then it was time to face my fear of (and allergy to) bees to reap a very sweet reward. It was my next stop in beautiful Daylesford where I was lucky enough to meet an inspiring woman named Annie Smither’s. Annie is not only an award-winning chef, but someone who is truly living and breathing the paddock-to-plate lifestyle. Daylesford is also where I got to go hunting for some unique and rare produce that gets me really excited!
The Bellarine Peninsula was my next stop, where I chased some seriously big birds and was surprised to learn that you can also cook their eggs. Then it was off to face one of my biggest fears to harvest for one of my favourite deep-sea delicacies! My road trip continued into NSW to the Central Tablelands and to the place that’s closest to my heart, Greenhill’s farm – it’s where my dad lives and what will always be my second home. Of course no trip to the farm would be complete without cooking up some of the Moran Family Lamb, and to be able to do so with my dad and son Harry, was a really special experience.
It was then back to Victoria for a week in East Gippsland where I got to live out a childhood dream – getting back to basics and camping overnight beside the mouth of the snowy river. Then it was off to the music capital, Tamworth in New England, and a surprise visit the place that I was born!
Now I hope the above teaser has wet your appetite a little? Filming this show has been such an incredible journey and learning experience for me and I’m so excited to finally be able to share it all with you when Paddock to Plate premieres on Wednesday, November 6 at 8.30pm on Foxtels’ The LifeStyle Channel.
I have always had a strong love of food and local produce. I believe that seasonality is an important basis for menu production and one of the most significant ingredients in achieving a flavoursome, balanced and premium quality menu.
My driving force remains seasonality and a passion for producing the best contemporary food possible. It’s a long-held passion, taking seed at the age of 15, when I started my chef’s apprenticeship at La Belle Helene in Sydney’s Roseville. I learnt and finessed the skill in classical French cooking which remains the foundation of my cooking today.
I launched my first restaurant - The Paddington Inn Bistro - with Peter Sullivan in 1991. The success of this venture led to a second, Moran’s Restaurant and Café, which opened in ’95 and was awarded best new restaurant in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide that year. My flagship two-hat ARIA Restaurant in Sydney opened in ’99. We continued to grow the business by opening Opera Bar in ’06 and ARIA Catering whereby we cater to a range of offsite venues and locations around Sydney, Brisbane & the Sydney Opera House. ARIA Brisbane opened its doors in ’09 and just recently was awarded two coveted Chefs Hats just like our flagship in Sydney. 2012 was a big year whereby we opened two new venues, CHISWICK restaurant in Woollahra and Riverbar & Kitchen in Brisbane plus I was awarded GQ Magazine Chef of the Year!
My main focus are my restaurants, however this year you will see my passion and knowledge on my new show From Paddock to Plate which will air on the Lifestyle channel on FOXTEL.