Hand-selected wines from 500+
Australian wineries delivered to your door!
Hand-selected wines from 500+
Australian wineries delivered to your door!

Alert

The maximum quantity permitted for this item is , if you wish to purchase more please call 1300 303 307
Food

Tobie Puttock Gets Healthy

As far as chefs go, Tobie Puttock is far from being on the list that needs to look at his health. He’s always been fairly lean and away from the kitchen is pretty active. Admittedly, over the past years he noticed a slight spreading around his middle, but it didn’t worry him too much.

What did motivate him to make a change in his life was love. His wife, Georgia, wanted to get fit, not that she was overweight, but, as Tobie says, “she wanted to achieve a body image that she was happy with.” She hit the gym, was working with a trainer and getting really good results, but then she plateaued. No matter how hard she worked, she couldn’t get over this hump. A meeting with nutritionist Donna Ashton was the key to the change.

“She asked Georgia what her diet was,” says Tobie. “When she replied that her husband was a chef, Donna suggested that I go in and have a chat.

“I was a bit apprehensive because I thought what we were eating was healthy food. However, Donna showed me that what I thought was healthy and what was needed for weight loss, were two different things. My idea of health food – things like quinoa salad – was heath food, but it was not ‘weight loss food’.”

After reading a pile of recipe books penned by dieticians, Tobie realised that while the recipes might be great for weight loss, they were pretty bland and tasteless. So he set himself a personal challenge to create healthy dishes that also taste great. It was a process that reawakened the chef inside him, found him a publishing deal and led to a whole new lifestyle.

Sitting down with Donna to devise a weight-loss plan for Georgia, Tobie created three lists – foods that you can’t eat ever, foods you can eat sometimes and foods you can eat as much of as you want.

“I started cooking some dishes and, as you do these days, I put a picture of them up on social media. I got a call from Julie Gibbs from Penguin who said, ‘What the hell are you cooking here? I’ve not seen you do this before because you normally do Italian food’ Then she said, ‘Let’s do a book’. Then the fun really started.”

A new horizon

Tobie had been a chef for almost two decades and had graduated to the point of being a restaurateur. But the hassle of running a business coupled with the pressure of managing people had quashed his creativity in the kitchen. Taking a hiatus from the restaurant game and working on this project gave him back his culinary mojo and opened up doors he’d never considered walking through.

“I realised I didn’t have to cook Italian food anymore, I could do whatever I wanted,” says Tobie. “It really took a while to get my head around trying to make things taste good without using heaps of butter and olive oil and without the deep fryer. I haven’t reinvented the wheel, but for me personally, it was a huge learning curve and a big thing to happen in my cooking.

“So I found writing this book to be a huge creative process and I really enjoyed it. The most satisfying part was seeing the results for Georgia. She lost 10 kilos of body fat through the writing of the book – she wasn’t big to begin with, but she managed to smash through her plateau.”

Don’t mention the word diet

There is a saying that dieting is like holding your breath – at some stage you have to let it out to breathe. Tobie affirms his recipes are more lifestyle than diet.
“I still love eating chocolate, I still drink beer, but now I do it in moderation,” he says. “All I have done is take dishes that are familiar to us and re-jigged them by lowering the fat and carb levels.
“This means that in the book, there are basically no carbs, there is not a potato in the whole book, but there are beautiful sweet potato dishes in there. I tried to make dishes that taste good to try to over-ride the desire for things like potatoes.”

As well as healthy recipes that taste great, another important aspect of the book, and his change in eating, is the fact that ingredients are accessible and cheap.
“I want people to be able to cook most of the recipes in this book from your local supermarket, so the ingredients are accessible and dishes are easy to make.
“I am not trying to get people to give up everything, because the most important thing is to be happy, and happiness comes through balance. But if you cook from this book a few times a week, you are going to get results.”

The Chef Gets Healthy by Tobie and Georgia Puttock is out now on Penguin (RRP $39.99).

You might also like

Food
Seasonal Salad
Words by Libby Travers on 3 Sep 2018
Ignore the importance of salad leaves at your peril. They’ve been known to make or break many a meal.   I prefer to eat my salad as the French do, that is, after the main course, before the cheese, with my fingers. There is something entirely visceral about picking up the delicate leaves one by one, in appreciation of the careful attention that has come before. The metallic tines of a fork appear to me the quickest way to erode that joy. With such simple pleasures, it is always a game of the finest details. Your choice first hangs on their freshness, as there is nothing more depressing than a bowl of wilting leaves. Once you have sought out the best-looking specimens at the market, you can start making more exciting decisions: are you looking for crunch or delicacy; bitterness, citrus or peppery notes; a creamy sauce or simple vinaigrette?  Remember, these leaves are often the vehicle for other flavours and, just as it is with wine, this is a game of matching weight for weight, in this case leaves to the dressing. The crisp form of cos and iceberg will hold up against a creamy sauce; while more delicate leaves and fresh herbs will make better friends with a gentle vinaigrette, something agrodolce with a balance of sweet and sharp; leaves from the chicory family (endive and radicchio) have an innate bitterness and pair well with an anchoïade or even blue cheese and nuts; while peppery rocket loves the salty bite of a little parmesan. Once home, your leaves need a gentle touch – this is a task for a lover, not a warrior. Salad leaves must be diligently picked, carefully washed (and dried), and dressed at the very last minute, with just enough dressing to kiss the leaves, not drown them. It is only then you’ll have a salad worth its own place at the table! Beyond the salad bowl, there is a bounty of beautiful leaves that love a little time in the frying pan. Cos, braised with the sweet spring peas and bacon is a favourite served with chicken; while endive can be cut in half and allowed to caramelise in a hot pan with a little butter and lemon juice, the cooking will help mellow the bitterness – it is brilliant with game.  Wilted greens can also take a starring role in a meal. All along the Mediterranean, the tradition of seeking the wild leaves and herbs that grow in the hills and quickly cooking them has led to beautiful pastas, egg dishes and pies. We have our very own, largely underrated, native spinach found in the sandy soil along the coastline known as warrigal greens. These leaves require blanching or light cooking to remove a poisonous compound (only dangerous in large quantities, but best avoided!). Once blanched, they have a delicate flavour and texture, and can be used in a wild weed pie or omelette to great success.  In a restaurant kitchen, working through the large boxes of leaves is often a task assigned to the apprentices. They must carefully check each leaf for damage and bugs before thoroughly washing them. It must be done each day and can take hours. I recall pointing out to a friend of mine, the head chef at one such kitchen, that this must become a little tiresome. He (correctly) chastised me, explaining that while the leaves may not seem exciting, one bruised leaf would show they didn’t care, one bug would ruin an entire meal, one grain of dirt would ruin the mouthful. The lesson is in the detail, as is the reward. Select and store Seek out beautiful, fresh salad leaves. Pick through them carefully before washing them in cold water – a little soak will also help to revive tired leaves. A salad spinner is an important friend here, as moisture will repel oil. An alternative is to lay the leaves out on a dry tea-towel and pat them dry. Salad leaves love Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, onion, cream, cheese, nuts, honey, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon, herbs, radish, egg. Great salad recipes to try by Lyndey Milan: 
Tuna and quinoa poke bowl Crisp pork belly with Asian salad
Burrata spring salad Spiced chicken with blood orange and date salad
Food
George Calombaris' Hellenic heart
Words by Mark Hughes on 17 Nov 2015
It is not surprising to learn that as a young boy George Calombaris loved food. He was obsessed by it. As we sit down for a chat at his Hellenic Republic restaurant in Brunswick, a very fit-looking George (he is almost equally obsessed with his regular gym routines these days) recalls a couple of prime examples as to how much food was always on his mind. “Dad had an independent supermarket and our job on a Saturday was to sweep the floors. While my brother was stealing cigarettes; I was stealing tubes of condensed milk,” he says. “I remember going to an uncle’s house and while my cousins were out the front kicking the footy, I was standing at the barbecue stealing charred bits of octopus while no-one was looking.” It was almost ordained therefore that George would become a chef. Although he never cooked at home as a child “there was no romantic story of me with my hands in the bowl beside mum because we weren’t allowed in the kitchen”, what is somewhat surprising is the fact that when he did start manning the pans, he wanted to cook anything other than Greek food. He learned French cuisine through an apprenticeship at the Sofitel Melbourne, then the same at Fenix before taking on the head chef role at Reserve Restaurant in Melbourne’s Federation Square. It is here he turned heads, being awarded Young Chef of the Year and two prestigious chef’s hats from The Age Good Food Guide. But it all came to a grinding halt when the restaurant went bankrupt. It is perhaps due to George’s indefatigable charisma that he was able to turn adversity into a pivotal moment in his career, and at the same time, find his Hellenic heart. “I was out of a job, distraught, 26 years of age, and that made me go and do a lot of soul searching,” he recalls. “I asked, who am I? Who am I as a cook? Suddenly, a light bulb went off and I went, ‘Hang on, I know what my culture is, I have lived and breathed it all my life.’ I could see a massive hole in the market being all things Greek – from fast food to fine dining. From that, The Press Club was born. Nine years on, it has been an incredible ride to where we are now.” Changing food culture Now, George is one of the most recognisable faces in the Australian food industry. As co-host of the super successful MasterChef TV series, he is projected into lounge rooms across the globe. For George, the overwhelming positive from it all is the fact that it has got people thinking about food. “What has happened has been incredible,” he says. “I remember getting a call from a friend who works at the local Bunnings and he says, “Mate, what did you cook last night, because we have sold out of blow torches?” We had done crème brulee. The show influences everyone from young kids to adults. I walked down the street the other day and a tradie showed me pictures of macaroons that he made with his daughter. That, for me, means we are winning.” Away from the small screen, George is at the helm of a Melbourne restaurant empire serving everything Greek from street food at five Jimmy Grants outlets, casual wholefoods at Mastic cafe, contemporary fare at Hellenic Republic and Gazi, to top shelf dining at the Press Club. Plans are also afoot to launch into the Sydney market with a Greek restaurant in Surry Hills. Stay tuned. Cooking the books In addition to all of this, George has published five cookbooks. His most recent, of which he is proudest, is simply titled Greek , and features the recipes that mean most to him. Ones that his family has passed down to him, fellow chefs have shared and even recipes that he makes with his children. “Great cookbooks are not about the recipes, they are about the story,” says George. “It’s about the influences other chefs have played in my life, my mother,   even my kids. There is a recipe in there for vegemite and avocado cruskit – you don’t have to be a genius to make it, but it is not about that – it is about the experiences that we share that make us who we are.” There is even a whole chapter in the book about pasta. Given the name of the book is 'Greek', it begs the question, why? “A lot of people don‘t know that my dad’s mother is Sicilian,” reveals George. “My dad migrated from Egypt, my grandfather was Greek, my grandmother Italian. On my mum’s side my mother, grandparents are Cypriots. Of course, Cypriot food is Greek influenced but also very influenced by the Ottoman Empire – Turkish flavours, Middle Eastern flavours. So when I was young, I was getting fed everything from falafel to moussaka to pasta and ricotta. I was so bloody lucky. “So this book is about everything that has influenced my life, from a souvlaki at Jimmy Grants to a Hills Hoist at The Press Club and everything in between. This is, for me, where I am right now. “I set out on my journey to do all things Greek for all people,” he says. “It’s taken me a long time to get here, 19 years with mistakes along the way. But I’ve loved every minute of it. Now we’re ready to go even harder and I hope there are another 19 ahead. I am just starting. I’m at the beginning of what I wanted to do.”  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
1 case has been added to your cart.
Cart total: xxx
1 case, 12 bottles, 3 accessories