More men in the kitchen

Australian chef Bill Granger would like more ordinary men to venture into the kitchen; I’m sure women won't protest.

by: Pauline Askin: Reuters | 28 Apr 2009

There's no shortage of male chefs, but celebrity Australian chef Bill Granger would like more ordinary men to venture into the kitchen, and hopes to inspire them with his easy-going, home-cooking approach.

Granger, one of Australia's best known chefs, is a self-taught cook who's famous for delicious recipes that use fresh food – and that are easy to follow.

He started out studying art in Sydney, but became so fascinated by food while working part-time as a waiter, that he switched careers.

In his early 20s, Granger opened his first restaurant, "bills," in a Sydney suburb, which quickly became a hit with locals and tourists. He now has three critically acclaimed restaurants in Australia and one in Tokyo.

Granger has also written seven cook books – the latest "Feed Me Now" went on sale this month – which are international bestsellers. He also hosts a television series, "Bill's Holiday" which is seen in 27 countries.

Granger recently spoke about why cooking needn't be a complicated affair.

Q: How does a self-taught cook become an international success?
A: "I think it's a bit of luck, being in the right place at the right time. Also, what I do relates to normal people. I love to make recipes that are minimum fuss and maximum flavour."

Q: What's the secret to being a good cook? A: "You really have to know how to follow a recipe and taste the food as you go, that's really important. You should also know what good food tastes like, so if you eat out, that makes it a lot easier because it gives you an idea."

Q: Is it difficult for you to enjoy a meal out? Are you always analyzing what's on your plate?
A: "Yes I am actually always analyzing, but I'm not thinking how it could be done better, more about how did they do it. My latest obsession is Japanese food. The cooking techniques are quite different to Western food so I am fascinated by the way they get results."

Q: British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has become famous for swearing in the kitchen and, in general, being very tough on his staff. What do you think is the best approaching to running a kitchen?
A: "For me it's about inspiring and motivating people to want to do a good job. Gordon comes from that very classic disciplined kitchen; it's a real European thing. My restaurants are more local, with a more "cooking in the home" approach, so it's creating a different sort of energy. I would have more in common with the River Cafe in London than one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants."

Q: What would you say are the key tools in the kitchen?
A: "Sharp knives are always the most essential tool in the kitchen. Microplanes, or fine graters, are fantastic, and you also need a good non-stick frying pan."

Q: Do you have a favourite food or recipe?
A: "I love the Gooey Chocolate Cake that's in my new book, it's pretty amazing. It's one of those things that you just pull out and go "wow" and I always like "wow" recipes, you always need them in your repertoire."

Q: What are your favourite ingredients?
A: "I love chillies, cumin, ground coriander, saffron, all sorts of flavours from the Middle East and India."

Q: Australia has a high rate of obesity. What advice would you offer?
A: "For the first time probably in human existence there's more food than we can possibly ever eat. I think it takes a lot of self control to say no."

- None


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