Having grown up on a farm, it’s no surprise Matt Moran has always prioritised using fresh, seasonal and locally produced food in his cooking. Now a hugely successful chef and restaurateur, he believes anyone can grow their own food – then eat it!
BLOOMS: Why is provenance of food so important to you?
MATT: I grew up on a cattle and dairy farm in country NSW and I still own a farm to this day that provides beef and lamb to my restaurant. Farming is in the family – I’m fourth-generation and looking back, my childhood definitely installed in me a love of farming, food and living off the land. Fresh, local and in season produce is a big part of my life and cooking. I’m a firm believer in the importance of consumers being connected to the source of their food.
BLOOMS: And your restaurants follow that philosophy too.
MATT: Both Chiswick and Chiswick at the Gallery have a kitchen garden that the chefs frequent to pick fresh greens, garnishes, fruit and vegetables each day. If it’s out of season, it’s not on the menu. I feel really passionate about supporting local and regional producers, growers and farmers! They each have their own unique stories and knowing them makes eating that more special.
BLOOMS: How can the hobby gardener get involved in your paddock to plate style of eating?
MATT: Whether you have a balcony or 100 acres of farming land you can incorporate some form of ‘growing your own’ into your everyday cooking. If you have a window then you can still utilise fresh herbs or chillies which don’t take up much space at all. If you have a medium size space, then a nice citrus tree is really exciting to watch go crazy when in season too! If you have a larger plot then the soil is your playground. Take photos of the area you wish to grow produce and don’t be afraid to ask your nursery grower what would be best in that space.
BLOOMS: Where should newbies begin?
MATT: Start small. You don’t need to have an Instagram worthy veggie garden overnight. Only select a few fruits and/or veg and learn how to look after them. If you don’t feel like you can commit to a full veggie patch, even a small community garden that everyone can look after and enjoy with fresh herbs is a fantastic way to dip your toe in.
BLOOMS: What about our choices when it comes to shopping?
MATT: Shopping at the local farmers markets or seeking out a great local butcher or fishmonger will mean fresh, in season produce that’s fresher, more flavoursome and better for you a well. They’ll take out the fuss and stress of figuring out what’s the freshest ingredients, and what’s in season. Stop and chat with the suppliers. They will give you fantastic tips right then and there. I’ll be the first to say that as a chef, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are if you don’t have access to great quality produce.
BLOOMS: What did growing up in a family of farmers teach you?
MATT: I’m so inspired by our farmers and growers. It makes all the difference in the world. Throughout my childhood we, like most farmers, hit both bad times and good and I thank this rural upbringing for instilling in me a work ethic and a certain toughness. It also gave me a genuine understanding of just how hard farmers work to supply us with the food we rely on at every meal and the quality we demand.
BLOOMS: What next for you?
MATT: Next up I have a couple of restaurant projects happening and my TV program Family Food Fight on Channel Nine. I never sit still, there is always something on the go… you’ll just have to wait to find out what!
Visit Matt @ www.mattmoran.com.au