Celebrity chef Matt Moran is visiting the emirate for the Dubai Food Festival. He talks to Vision about what inspires him as a chef, upcoming TV shows and why he finds food producers so fascinating
Vision: What are the biggest factors that influenced you becoming a chef?
Matt Moran: I started when I was pretty young, I was just 15 years old but I can honestly say that I walked into that kitchen and immediately loved it. Over the years a lot of things have influenced me, be it people I’ve met along the way, great chefs of the past or travelling and experiencing new cultures and cuisines. More than anything I love meeting the farmers and growers that create exceptional produce. They work hard and us chefs wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.
V: Are there any stories from childhood or growing up related to food you’d like to share?
MM: I grew up on a dairy farm in the countryside in Australia, so I have great childhood memories of hanging out with my Dad and doing chores on the farm, riding dirt bikes, milking and feeding cattle – there was always plenty to do. Though I might not have realised it at the time, looking back it’s during those early days that I discovered my love of fresh produce, farming and living off the land.
V: How did you become a celebrity chef? Is it something you always aspired to?
MM: I’ve been in the industry a pretty long time, over 30 years now. So back when I started it was the early 1980s – reality TV didn’t exist and the food industry wasn’t quite what it is today. You rarely heard of chefs owning restaurants back then either - they were just the guys slogging away in the kitchen! So it was never something I aspired to, I just really love my job and the more restaurants I opened, the more interest there was and the media and TV work just happened over time organically. But I’m really passionate about my job and the moment I walked in the kitchen as an apprentice I knew I wanted to be a chef. I’ve never lost that feeling - it will never change in my heart.
V: What motivates you to keep creating and challenging yourself as a chef?
MM: I’ve always been a pretty driven individual but I’m lucky that I truly love what I do. I’m so passionate about it and if you love your job and it excites you then motivation is rarely an issue.
V: Which celebrity chefs, if any, do you find inspiring and innovative?
MM: There are a lot of great people in the industry, doing exciting things. I respect great chefs of the past like Escoffier or look to those such as the Troisgros brothers or Bocuse, there are so many, I could go on. But I also really find inspiration from the incredible farmers and growers we have out there. They work incredibly hard to deliver exceptional ingredients and without them us chefs couldn’t do what we do. Many are incredibly innovative and when I meet a passionate farmer or come across a great artisanal producer with an incredible product I find it really exciting.
V: You’re quite well known as a TV personality, a route many chefs have taken in their careers. What’s next for you in this space? Are there any plans to continue with previous shows or to start new ones?
MM: I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some great TV shows over the years; Masterchef, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules to name a few. My own conceptualised TV show, Paddock to Plate was such a great experience to film, we’ve done two seasons and will - fingers crossed - start another soon. I’m also a judge on The Great Australian Bake Off and we’re about to film a second series so there’s no slowing down when it comes to TV.
V: Would you ever consider a venture in Dubai and if yes, why?
MM: Why not, never say never. At the moment my restaurants are based in Sydney and Brisbane in Australia but I hold no limits to myself and may very well expand overseas one day. Watch this space.