Direct from Fat Pig Farm in southern Tasmania, Matthew Evans, star of the SBS series Gourmet Farmer will share stories from his time as a food critic, farm and chef as part of Albury’s Write Around the Murray festival.
Albury’s Wood Fired Oven will provide the perfect setting for story-telling, as Matthew whips up a number of dishes linked with his food philosophy and shares tastings with participants.
Border Cafe caught up with him ahead of his visit to Albury.
What can audiences expect when they attend your event?
Some tall tales and true from the farm, funny stories of my past, and my vision for a fair food future. Oh, and some fabulous local food, cooked farmhouse style, from a wood oven; that ancient technique that seems to make everything taste better.
You’ve written several books – including an autobiography – where does that desire to write and share recipes and stories come from?
I want people to eat well. At first, that was through becoming a chef. Then I realised you could reach more people and let them know about good food if you wrote about it (and got published! – it was in the days before the internet).
And then I realised that print media, along with new media and television can reach even more people and let them know that food isn’t the enemy, it can be your friend, and it can be totally delicious and life affirming and strengthen social bonds and societal bonds. And then I want back to cooking a bit, too, because cooking, and growing food, are both good for the soul.
You recently co-authored Gourmet Farmer Deli Book – what can you tell us about that?
The deli book is based on the desire to demystify those things in the deli, like bacon, or cheese, or salami, and give people the tools to make those things at home. And then, even if you did go to a deli to buy them, we’ve given you the recipes to cook with them when you get them home.
I wrote it with two mates, Nick Haddow who’s a well respected cheesemaker and Ross O’Meara, who’s a chef by trade and who has made cheese, and ran his own pig farm and smallgoods business from his home on Bruny Island. We all bring our own expertise to the table, to make food the old fashioned way, focused on flavour. We want to make sure the lost arts of cooking and preserving don’t stay lost.
With your passion for produce, do you have thoughts on our Albury – North East region and produce?
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Albury in early spring, and I’m excited to see what you have on offer.
I’m hoping for the last of the winter root vegetables, sweetened by that lovely local frost, some decent brassicas (cauliflower and cabbage through the wood oven, yay!), and perhaps some local lamb to roast in hay.
To be honest, I tend to like to find what’s good at the last minute – because that’s seasonal cooking at its heart – and cook with that.
What are your thoughts on the importance of a writer’s festival such as this one?
Writer’s festivals are a brilliant way of connecting people and building community. Every written word, every mouthful of food, every love letter, every poem, every talk given in public adds to the culture of a place. Writers festivals do all that in a very short, intense, life affirming period. I’ve been to a few festivals, from one end of Australia to the other, and every time they represent not only the mood, but also the best of the town that hosts them.
For more information on Matthew Evans and “ Going Gourmet at the Wood Fired Oven” and other events: https://writearoundthemurray.org.au/
Write Around the Murray (WAM) is Albury’s boutique festival of reading, writing, illustration and storytelling. Readers, writers, artists and storytellers gather from across the country to share stories, knowledge and skills as part of a diverse and invigorating program.