What were your food influences when you were growing up and what kind of food did you eat at home or with your family?
My mum comes from a lineage of great cooks. Actually, my Grandma is still a commercial baker and cook at 85, so a love and passion for food was passed onto us from a super early age. Mum got bored really easily, so she attempted something different most nights. We were really spoilt to be treated to everything from great Asian, to classic Italian, to slow cooked masterpieces, to French desserts and plenty of fresh seafood.
What dish or cuisine do you most like to eat on tour and why?
I try to eat high protein, high vegetable and low or no gluten food, which is super hard to stick to on tour. I’m a complete food snob, so I’ll usually spend my initial free time in a new city sussing out what the best restaurant is and I’ll head there. Life’s too short to eat cheap, bad food!
I have to say my favourite cuisine has always been hearty southern Italian. I love the simplicity of the olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato and wine base to most of the food, the high emphasis on fresh produce, and undisturbed, clean, full flavours. If I could find an authentic, ‘Nonna’s-in-the-kitchen-actually-cooking-the-food’ type of restaurant in every city I tour, I’d probably never leave.
What type of food do you hate, and what is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten? Tell us the story.
I’ve made it a point to enjoy everything – there’s really nothing I don’t eat! I’ve had the chance to travel to Papua New Guinea many times in my life and eaten some very strange things over there. I’m not even sure what they were. It looked like some kind of food, I think, but sure didn’t taste like it….
What type of food do you make sure to avoid before a gig or going on stage?
I actually approach food before a gig the opposite way. There’s nothing more I love than heading into a long rehearsal or show with a full stomach. I think it gives me energy! Usually before a show I’ll lean toward a nice fresh steak, and I usually find I feel great after that! (…as a side note, the best steak I have ever eaten was a Roquefort Eye Fillet at the New Albury Hotel. It was wrapped in pancetta, stuffed with blue cheese and sitting atop a bed of crunchy broccolini and drizzled with a red wine jus… amazing!)
Imagine for a second you can request anything on your rider at a gig. What food do you put on it?
Guy Grossi. With a fully functioning kitchen, complete with a team of sous chefs ;)
What has been your biggest cooking disaster to date? Tell us the story.
I remember I was making a pancetta wrapped, black olive rubbed chicken breast meal before a show. I was actually running really late so tried to hurry the process along. I had to defrost the chicken before I could prepare the meal and bake it, but because I was so short on time I didn’t quite do it properly. Needless to say, when the chicken came out of the oven and I started shoveling it down in order to get to the show on time, I realized it was nowhere near cooked – ¾ of the way through eating it… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sick in all my life!
When you tour overseas, what food from home do you miss the most?
I think I miss the general freshness of the food. In Australia (well, most of it) seeing as though the food is such high quality, if you make bad food, people will stop coming to your restaurant. So everyone needs to make great food to keep clientele. When I’m away, most of the food I eat just seems either stale, or droopy compared to what I eat here. We are so spoilt with a quality meat and abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in Australia.
This is your last day on earth, what is your final meal?
OK, well I’m gonna have to do this in 3 courses…
Entrée 1: A Moroccan salad of chickpeas, homemade hummus, baby snow peas diced tomato and red onion
Entrée 2: A bowl of fresh muscles covered in a Napoli and basil sauce with plenty of garlic.
Main: Veal saltimbocca with pancetta, fresh sage and garlic mash
Dessert: A rich, dark chocolate fondant with raspberry jus and a nice big dollop of cream…
…great now I’m hungry again