SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - 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 to Reuters 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 flavor.”
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 favorite 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 favorite ingredients?
A: “I love chillies, cumin, ground coriander, saffron, all sorts of flavors 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.”
Recipe: Gooey Chocolate Cake with Raspberries
100g good quality dark chocolate
150g raspberry jam
30g good quality cocoa powder
teaspoon natural vanilla extract
90g raspberry jam
115g butter, softened
65g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
125g plain flour
1 teaspoons baking power
pinch of sea salt
80g raspberries, plus extra to serve
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Generously grease a 22cm round cake tin.
For the topping, put the chocolate, jam and cream into a small pan over medium heat. Stir until smooth, then pour into the prepared tin.
In a bowl, mix the cocoa powder with 125ml boiling water, stirring until smooth, then add the milk, vanilla and jam, whisking to combine.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Using a large spoon, fold the dry ingredients and the cocoa mix into the creamed mixture, alternating the two, then fold the raspberries through.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin, ensuring you spread it right to the edge and cover the topping completely. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. (If not serving straight away you can refrigerate the cake in the tin, but you will need to warm it in the oven before turning it out.)
Turn the cake out onto a plate. You may need to scrape some sauce out of the tin and spread it over the top of the cake.
Serve warm or cold, with fresh raspberries
Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Miral Fahmy