In Food + Drink

Ask A Chef: Matt Moran’s Top Tips For Entertaining At Home

Matt Moran is no stranger to the Australian dinner table. Instantly recognisable with his shaved head and approachable grin, the gifted chef, author, restauranteur and television presenter is one of the country’s biggest champions of the paddock-to-plate philosophy.

At its core, this culinary philosophy is a simple one: source the best produce and treat it with the respect it deserves. The seeds of his raison d’etre were planted as a child growing up on a dairy and cattle farm, and it’s one that has stayed with him for his entire career.

“I was fortunate to be exposed to the full life-cycle of produce from a very young age,” Moran recalls. “However, it wasn’t until I was 15 years old as a young apprentice chef that something clicked and realised this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Though more than thirty years into his career, Moran’s hunger to push the boundaries and inspire others on the importance of seasonality and sustainability is strong as ever – and an upcoming appearance at the Good Food & Wine Show will be an opportunity to do just that.

Matt Moran

Matt Moran stresses seasonality and sustainability with cooking and eating. Image: Good Food & Wine Show / supplied

Held in Melbourne from May 31 to June 2, followed by Sydney from June 21 to 23, The Good Food & Wine Show is one of the most-anticipated annual events on the gourmet calendar.

Taking to the stage with national treasure Maggie Beer, Moran will be guiding visitors step-by-step through a few of his favourite recipes, revealing tips and tricks on how to make your produce sing, and conveying the importance of using produce only when in season.

“I love meeting the people that have helped shape and support my career over the years,” Moran says. “Spending time with suppliers, chatting about all things food. I really enjoy meeting everyone, and, of course, being on stage with Maggie is always a pleasure.”

Just as ingredients, tastes and cooking methods have evolved over time, so too have the ways we entertain at home. For Moran, home entertaining today is now more about variety and inclusion, rather than just sticking to the classic three-course dinner party of old.

“We’re now seeing people step away from the traditional single plate for entrée, mains and desserts and leaning more towards sharing-style dishes,” he says. “I love it as it means you can try a bit of everything.

“In Australia we’re lucky to have such a melting pot of cultures too, so why not play around with spices and techniques from around the globe to give your ingredients that slight edge?”

The other trend Moran has identified is home cooks experimenting with fire pits and open flames, a throwback to a cooking style that has been utilised for thousands of years.

If you’re itching to entertain, Moran has four tips on how to entertain that’ll help you knock it out of the park:

Follow the seasons

fresh produce how to entertain

Moran says the biggest mistake people make in the kitchen is buying produce that’s out of season. Image: Daria Shevtsova / Pexels

In Moran’s opinion, the most common mistake people make in the kitchen is using produce out of season. We’re so used to being able to buy produce year-round that we’ve forgotten the joy of seasonality. Yet, it doesn’t take much to get a handle on the basics.

“When you select ingredients that are only in season, a) they automatically taste better and b) you don’t have to do too much to it to make it sing.”

Ask the experts

Butcher how to entertain

Moran also says it’s a good idea to try to meet the makers of your produce or food. Image: Nick Karvounis / Unsplash

Meeting some of the fantastic farmers, fishmongers, growers and suppliers from around Australia is always a highlight of the Good Food & Wine Show. If you can’t attend though, Moran says it’s still a great habit to make and foster relationships in your local area.

Stallholders at farmers markets, independent butchers and fishmongers, Moran believes these can be a fountain of knowledge, as they know how best to treat their produce.

Know your equipment

Oven how to entertain

He says know and understand your equipment so you can better follow recipe instructions. Image: Pexels

Following a recipe is useful when trying out a new dish, yet Moran says it’s just as important to know and understand your equipment, changing up the recipe to suit when required.

“If a recipe says 30 minutes, but you know you have a slightly older oven that takes longer – then overrule the recipe and go a little longer. Your senses of sight, touch, and smell, as well as trusting your natural gut instinct, will help you to know when something is ready.”

Cook more than you’ll need

Cook how to entertain

And finally, if in doubt, always cook more than you need. Image: Pexels

The dilemma of how exactly much to cook is one every home entertainer has faced at some point, yet Moran has a simple piece of advice – if in doubt, just cook more than you’ll need.

“It’s a tough one and really depends on the dish. And even though I hate waste, it’s better to cook too much. That way you can have leftovers or give it to your guests to take home.”

As the saying goes, good food and wine are nothing without good company to share them with. Follow Moran’s tips though, and it won’t be long until good company finds you.

(Lead images: Good Food & Wine Show)

Published 23 April, 2019