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Fresh from his WA food and travel show with Blur bassist-turned-cheesemaker Alex James, the celeb chef tells us what we should be eating Down Under

You’re famously a big supporter of locally produced food. How come?

I think it’s very important, we have to respect the environment. We’ve done a lot of harm to the world and if we carry on we won’t have access to the variety of food we have today. I also think it leads to better tasting, more nutritious food.

Does bush tukka come into that?

I don’t really like the term bush tukka, but I’m very passionate about Australian native food. We’ve a huge variety of flavours, textures and tastes. I’ve developed an Australia seven spice mix from native leaves and berries, which you can try in my restaurants in Perth and Melbourne. I do a great dish with crickets fried in it. We also do some with insects, including toasted ants with marshmallows. The ants have a citrus flavour reminiscent of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. The sour flavour really cuts through the sweetness of the marshmallow.

Why is Margaret River so foodie?

From the forests to the coast, it produces an extraordinary range of ingredients you would struggle to find anywhere else. My favourite place is Hamelin Bay. You can find pigface, beach mustard and salt bush among the coastal flora and there’s a campsite right on the beach, overlooking the white sand.

How did the TV partnership with Blur’s Alex James come about?

I first met Alex in 2012 at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, a festival that takes over every November. Filming the series was so much fun – we did a lot of foraging and fishing. Alex is not too comfortable with anything with claws so freaked out when we went crabbing in Denmark. Turns out he was right as I got pinched.

What’s he like to work with?

He’s really passionate about food. It was great to cook together, hang out and go on adventures through south-west Western Australia. Were you impressed by his knowledge? Very. He knows about all sorts of food. When on tour, he visits the best restaurants of whatever city he’s in, so yes, he definitely has good food knowledge. But I think he gets a bit nervous cooking with me!

So, were you a Blur or Oasis fan?

I’d choose Blur! I was in primary school when ‘Song 2’ came out and I remember singing it. What would you play in a band? I can’t play anything, I’m terrible! But I’d have to be the frontman in a punk rock band. I love punk rock and get a kick out of being on stage.

What are your fave Aussie ingredients?

Kangaroo is my favourite protein to use. It tastes very much like venison – it’s quite gamey and is usually eaten quite rare. It’s a super sustainable food, as there’s no need for agricultural land to farm it. Albany rock oysters are another favourite, especially as I don’t have to do anything. I just open them and they’re delicious. Australian native spices such as lemon myrtle, wattleseed and aniseed myrtle are also great. They’re great for using with desserts and as marinades on meat.

What Aussie dishes should visitors try?

Australia doesn’t have signature dishes as such, but everyone should definitely try kangaroo, as well as some Australian-produced cheeses. Classic pavlova is also quite common. My favourite is pavlova with passion fruit. And where should we be eating? When travelling through Western Australia, especially in Margaret River, Denmark and Albany, stop in at the farmers’ markets. Try Ringwould Cheese at the Albany Farmers’ Market. And their goat’s cheese is fantastic.

 

Matt Stone appears in Recipes That Rock with Alex James on Food Network UK. 
For more information and episodes click here

 

 


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