Learn from The Natural Cook, creative winery chef Matt Stone »
Grow, make and preserve your own, naturally, with fun not fuss
By Dillon Kesur
Some people are born to be musicians. It’s natural to them. I think the same can be said about natural cooks. They are born with an acute sense of taste that makes them more adventurous and creative when it comes to eating or cooking food. They are also the best teachers of cooking.
Matt Stone is a natural cook.
When I first opened the book I casually turned to a page and the first line I read was: “One night we were up late drinking beers and watching online videos about food, farming and cooking”.
You know just by reading that line you are about to read a special book full of enthusiasm and bravado, by a teacher willing to share all those hours of watching and learning, from how to create food from the basics to more involved methods and using exotic ingredients .
Matt wills you to grow as much organic food as your home space allows and to use ingredients as fresh from the garden as possible, as well as to reduce waste by using almost all parts of the vegetable, including its peel and seeds.
There are also lessons in fermenting your grains and vegetables and the health benefits it provides, and how to mill your own grains to make bread and pastries.
I especially like the chapter on drying and powdering skins of fruits, vegetables and even yoghurt – I had no idea you could dry passionfruit skins and seeds to produce a powder with great aroma and taste, brilliant when dusted over pavlovas or yoghurt.
He has a passion for native ingredients, using them as everyday ingredients instead of trendy, show-off foods.
New cooks can receive a great start to cooking, as Matt shows you methods and hints to help you along the way, not just pages and pages of recipes. If that’s you, you’ll be excited by all the possibilities a kitchen can provide – beginning with making your own stocks or broths. Even your own kimchi, and preserved lemons.
Then there are recipes using more exotic and challenging foods. How do Crisp Crickets, Mealworms and Australian 7 Spice sound? Or the intriguing Hay-smoked Beef, Onions and Miso?
This is a book that takes us closer to that mysterious, often-discussed ‘Australian cuisine’, combining methods from the cuisines of Asia to Central Europe and adding our own native ingredients into the mix.
This young, enthusiastic chef, who’s already kicked quite a few career goals, has captured the tradition and essence of what I call real, natural food in this entertaining and informative book. It would be a valuable inclusion in any keen cook’s library.
The Natural Cook by Matt Stone is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, Aug 2016; sc, 240 pp) and retails in Australia for RRP A$39.99
Author Matt Stone currently lives in Victoria, originally coming from Western Australia. He is the head chef of Oakridge Winery, co-star of the National Geographic food show Recipes that Rock with Blur bass guitarist Alex James, and is a regular on top-rating TV show MasterChef.
By 22, Matt was head chef of Joost Bakker's eco-restaurant Greenhouse in Perth, when he also went head to head with Neil Perry on Iron Chef.
In 2011 he was awarded Gourmet Traveller's Best New Talent award and West Australia's Good Food Guide's Best Young Chef. He then became head chef of Joost's Melbourne Silo Cafe followed by zero-waste cafe Brothl.
Reviewer Dillon Kesur’s background is in wine promotion and as a wine educator for Adult Education and Boutique Wines Australia classes, as well as for restaurant staff.
After moving with his family to southern Tasmania in 2002, he ran food and wine matching courses for The Tasmanian Wine Centre, helped launch the Peppermint Bay provedore, and did front-of-house and promotions for organic sheep cheesery Grandvewe Cheeses.
He's always been a super keen home cook and love growing as much of his own produce as possible. After 15 years creating an edible garden in hsi inner Sydney backyard, Dillon could now spread his wings to five beautiful acres in Margate in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel region of Tasmania, marrying his garden produce with local finds to create original dishes that brought the world to his plate. This meant starting his own olive grove, fruit orchard and vegetable patch.
Dillon photographs and posts online many of his meals, always ready to share ideas, methods and recipes with like-minded food lovers.
Through contacts made through social media networking, Dillon now regularly holds bread making workshops and ‘village’ cooking from various countries for keen amateur cooks, and has regular chats with Louise Saunders on ABC Hobart’s afternoon Drive radio program.
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