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Food

Jamie Oliver - cooking up a revolution

Jamie Oliver admits he questions reality when he is centre stage at places like the World Health Assembly giving a speech on global nutrition or in the inner sanctum of British Parliament planning the obesity strategy with the Prime Minister.

“It’s absolutely nuts,” he tells me down the phoneline from the UK. “To make it even worse, everyone listens, but I still feel like the naked chef."

It is admirable, but why him? Why has Jamie felt the need to change the way we eat? Why has he became the flag bearer for the food revolution? Responsibility and right place, right time is only part of it.

Happily married, he and wife Jools have recently welcomed their fifth child, River, into their lives. “It is brilliant and amazing and we are very thankful,” he says of his newborn son. “Sunday, I looked around the table and everyone was around it and I just went, ‘Bloody hell, how did this happen?’ I know how it happened...but you know…”

And there’s the answer. Every parent knows, as does any responsible adult. For Jamie, it's about giving children the nutrition they need to be the best they can be. All this starts with education. Kids, adults, governments; everyone.

Life Changes to Eating

Australia and Britain are up there with the USA in adult obesity rates. How has this happened in just three short decades? “People always find a way to shortcut,” reasons Jamie. “And the minute they find a way to make time on a job, they fill it up with other stuff. Technology has really added to that. Everyone is juggling more things, more money and more responsibilities – life has just changed. “The reality of it is 56% of Aussies are overweight or obese and health problems are shooting through the roof because of it. And this is at the same time we have more knowledge and beautiful produce. But it comes down to two things: knowing how to cook and access to good food.”

Jamie’s plethora of cookbooks and cooking shows is helping solve the first issue. But he’s gone above that, setting up initiatives such as The Ministry of Food, a hands-on community cooking school, The Kitchen Garden Project to introduce growing food and cooking into schools, as well as being part of The Obesity Strategy, Sugar Smart UK, and the list goes on.

Look at What you Serve

The second part of the solution – access to good food – is getting people to look at the produce they eat. In short, it’s about more fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and beans. “I just spent two years going around the world to where people live the longest,” says Jamie. “These places are not rich, they are not scientists or nutritionists – they just happen to be good at cooking food that is delicious and really good for you. And it is pretty much vegetarian. They eat meat and fish, but really only twice a week. “Take Korea, for instance. I sat down at a table where there were 10 plates of noodles, heaps of veg – steamed, stir-fried, pickled, fermented – colour everywhere, and then a plate of meat. By default, that is super balanced, super healthy.”

The thing is, Jamie knows his stuff. Alongside over two decades of cooking, he has been studying nutrition for the past four years. A full diploma. As a consequence, each recipe in his most recent cookbooks has nutritional information such as calories, fats, protein and carbs, plus special sections offering healthy tips and ways to balance your meals. “Nutrition can be very technical, very scientific,” says Jamie. “So I have tried hard to build bridges between science and understanding it in the real world.”

Still the Same Guy

All of this seems far removed from the knockabout chef that burst onto our TV screens all those years ago.“I often think the Naked Chef did well in Aussie because, back in the day, my attitude was all about having a laugh and using food to make cool memories and I think that’s very Australian. To a certain degree, nothing has changed. I am inspired by the same things. The food that made me tick, still makes me tick.

“But I have always been driven by what people want and these days people ask, what is balance? What does ‘good food’ look like? So the point of books like Super Food Family Classics is to create something where every choice is a good choice.

“It isn’t about getting it right all the time. Personally, I try to eat to the principles of the book, Monday to Friday lunch. That’s how I do it. And then, guess what? Friday night, I don’t even think about it – the whisky is out, I am planning the weekend, I am getting amongst it. Everyone will find their own pattern, but that generally puts me in a good place.”

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Frank Fawkner - A New EXP.erience
Words by Mark Hughes on 20 Mar 2017
Frank Fawkner is one of the bold young chefs leading a new guard of culinary delights in the Hunter Valley. In the tranquil surrounds of Oakvale Winery, just off Broke Road in Pokolbin’s Hunter Valley, a group of diners sit down at a nondescript sawn-log table. Moments later, a chef brings out a mortar with thick clouds billowing over the sides like a rushing steam train. Inside is a selection of freshly picked herbs, frozen to minus 82ºC by liquid nitrogen. He gives the guests a pestle and instructs them to start crushing the herbs because they are to make their own starter – herb butter to be spread upon a house-made sourdough. They readily accept the challenge, taking to the task with glee. Welcome to EXP. “EXP. is short for experience, experimenting, expertise, exposure – all of these ideas in one and it really is the backbone to the restaurant,” explains EXP. head chef and owner, Frank Fawkner. Frank is part of a new guard of chefs who are creating a culinary buzz in the Hunter Valley. THE ROAD TO EXP.ERIENCE
Frank Fawkner, 28, has been immersed in the Hunter Valley food scene since leaving his home on the NSW North Coast and starting an apprenticeship at a small café in the upper Hunter. Stints at the Crowne Plaza and an enlightening 18 months slaving away in a London restaurant set him on an upward trajectory in the culinary world. His career really ignited when he joined the team at Troy Rhoades-Brown’s acclaimed Muse Restaurant in Pokolbin. Working his way through the ranks, Frank became head chef and helped steer Muse to two hat status in the  Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. THANKFUL EXP.OSURE The accolades may have been enough for many chefs, but Frank has always been ambitious. Two years ago, he heard Oakvale wanted to open a restaurant. He and his wife Emma took the plunge and opened  EXP . It has become one of the most talked about venues in the Hunter. For this, Frank gives a lot of the credit to the mentorship he received at Muse. “I spent four great years with Megan and Troy. They are great bosses and what they’ve done with their business is amazing,” says Frank. “To be there as it grew and flourished was great. “I was always open with them about wanting to open my own restaurant. And they helped me. When I was looking for a venue, Troy was there for advice. He also helped me with the lease and wages – all the things you don’t get taught as a chef, but need to know when trying to transition to a restaurateur.” A NEW EXP.ERIMENT
While Frank echoes the mantra of great chefs of ‘designing dishes around fresh, local, seasonal produce’, what he feels sets EXP. apart is the dining experience. “It’s meant to be fun and energetic, while at the same time exhibit the quality of the top fine dining restaurants,” explains Frank. “The chefs will serve every course rather than the wait staff. Because the chefs are in the kitchen all day working with the food, we should get out there and explain each dish. And it really works with creating something special. People really feel that ‘food’ connection. “At the end of the night we give every guest a little gift – a choc chip cookie made with a chocolate ganache that has been infused with my own black garlic.” CULINARY EXP.LORATION It is this black garlic that has seen the latest career progression for Frank – food producer. He has just launched Fawk Foods. His first product: Black Garlic. “It’s pretty much caramelised aged garlic that has three times the amount of sugar than you have in usual garlic,” says Frank. “So you can use it in sweet dishes, and because of its unique umami kind of flavour, you can use it with anything you’d normally use garlic – chicken, fish, beef, it even makes great mayonnaise.” With such an amazing culinary pedigree, it is a wonder a rich restaurateur hasn’t tried to lure Frank to the big smoke. Not that he’d go. “I’ve never wanted a restaurant anywhere else than the Hunter,” he says. “It’s the perfect spot. We’ve got amazing produce, great wine and a really creative food scene. We have a lot to give now and, I think, even more in the future.” Frank Fawkner's Wagyu Scotch Fillet with Black Garlic Emulsion Recipe
"We use this wagyu at EXP and it is amazing. Broccolini and radish are great together and this black garlic sauce ties it all together." Get the  full recipe here This Hunter Valley culinary creation would be perfect with a savoury   Hunter   Shiraz . But take it to the next level with the  De Iuliis LDR Vineyard Shiraz Touriga 2015 . Bright and clean with spicy red and black cherry aromas, it has an earthy palate that will work perfectly with this dish - dark fruits with notes of brown spice and violets held in place with a firm backbone of tannins and beautiful acidity.
Food
Alla Wolf-Tasker: Lakehouse Legend
Words by Mark Hughes on 3 Jul 2018
Along with her loving family, Alla Wolf-Tasker transformed a downtrodden country town into a thriving culinary community. Alla Wolf-Tasker’s Lake House story is the stuff of legend and has been told many times. And while the Lake House is recognised around the world as one of this country’s great restaurants, the impact Alla, and the venue, have had on creating a culinary community will be seen as perhaps her greatest legacy. It is a true pleasure speaking with Alla. She’s friendly and knowledgeable, eloquent and assured, and so very passionate about all things food. The reason for our chat is to discuss the release of her latest book, Three Decades On – Lake House and Daylesford. Like everything Alla does, it is beautifully presented with gorgeous lush photography, delicious recipes and engaging editorial that updates the Lake House story. At its heart is a strong sense of community.
Dream A Little Dream As a young chef, Alla travelled to France, spending her time working in some of its iconic provincial restaurants. When she returned, Alla dreamed of creating one of her own in Australia. She instinctively chose Daylesford, a small village about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne. It was where she had spent time as a child, as her Russian-immigrant parents owned a small summer house there, a place where they grew their own produce. In 1979, Alla and her husband Allan, bought what she describes as a ‘blackberry-covered car-wreck-strewn paddock’ and set about building the country restaurant of her dreams. “I came back from France with stars in my eyes and with this notion that the restaurants that really resonated for me were regional restaurants because they had this growing sense of place around them,” recounts Alla. “They actually grew a community around them. A community of growers and suppliers and producers and also a community of doers, people that would fix things and were part of the business. Someone like the florist who supplies the flowers, the carpenter builds the chairs and tables – that sort of real community enterprise that I saw overseas. That’s what I fell in love with.”
For the full story and recipes from Alla, pickup a copy of Selector from all good newsagents,  subscribe  or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery.  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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