Bill Granger chats with Food24
If you were to choose three typical Aussie ingredients, what would they be?
It’d have to be meat of any kind, we’re big meat eaters. Chilies as well – Australians love food with a bit of spice. And mangoes.
If you were to choose three typical British ingredients, what would they be?
Strawberries, when I think of typical British food I think of strawberries and cream. They’re the best berries in the world I think. Dairy – the creams the butters, the cheeses. And Welsh lamb.
Notting Hill is a lovely place, but is there any specific reason for you to start your first Grange & Co restaurant there?
Natalie, my wife, lived here 20 years ago and we came here and found a nice school we liked for the kids. It’s the simple things – we wanted to be able to walk the kids to school, walk to Hyde Park.
Coming from Australia I love a morning walk. There it is along the beach but I love a good park as well, so now I go through Hyde Park.
Bill, you are famed for your bright and breezy approach to cooking in Australia. Can you keep this approach after moving to London?
Yes, although come mid February it gets harder! However, even then I want to cook like its summer and the sun is streaming through the window – I still want salad every day. When it’s cooler I want fresh, light food even more to energise me.
Did relocating to London provide you with inspiration on creating new dishes? Or new cooking styles?
Definitely. I get inspired by travelling, eating out and being surrounded by new stimuli. I was brought up on English food and roast dinners but to properly understand where the food of my childhood came from made me look back and appreciate it more.
The food I grew up on was totally inappropriate for Australia but it’s completely appropriate for England and a colder climate. By visiting friends’ houses and the countryside I’ve come to understand English food and the food of my childhood so much better.
What made you decide to settle in London?
London is going through a food revolution and for a place to be inspired by food there’s nowhere better in the world. From its food vans to its fine-dining establishments, Notting Hill alone has it all – from the stalls on Portobello Market to the [two-Michelin starred restaurant] The Ledbury, it has formality but it also has casualness.
London evolves and changes constantly.
Now you have restaurants in Australia, Japan and London, do the customers from different markets share similar tastes or their preferences are very different?
No, we don’t change the food at all for different markets. Cereals and mueslis aren’t quite as popular in Japan but they love scrambled eggs, pancakes and ricotta hotcakes.
These days I think you’d be hard pressed to find any foodie who wasn’t interested in food other than that which they were brought up on.
What are your big plans in 2013? More books, TV food programmes?
We’ve opening a new restaurant in Hololulu, Hawaii on Waikiki beach. That’s the big news. It’s just a great melting pot of Asian and Western foods and a really inspiring and interesting place, it’s got real soul. So I’m really looking forward to being out there and it being 28 degrees every day!
What is the secret to writing great cookbooks?
I’m still discovering! But cookbooks do different things. I try to do cookbooks that aren’t just inspirational but practical as well. Some books are just a journey and you go on that journey but you may never cook out of them. That’s great but I try to do books that make a difference to people’s everyday lives and they cook out of regularly.
When I write recipes I like to edit, I see myself as a good editor. So many recipes have been done before by lots of people, what I like to do is give put it through me, edit it down, make it quicker and pump up the flavour.