MATT MORAN: INTERVIEW
Recognized as one of Australia’s leading Chef’s and restaurateur's, Matt Moran has built an empire over thirty stellar years.
With humble beginnings starting at age fifteen when he was an apprentice at La Belle Helene Restaurant, Moran then went on to opening a series of highly-awarded restaurants including the Paddington Inn Bistro in 1991. Success proved to follow the culinary talent as his brand quickly exploded, opening Opera Bar, Aria Brisbane and Sydney, Chiswick, Riverbar and Kitchen, North Bondi Fish and Chiswick at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
With two Chefs Hats and coveted awards, Moran has released a series of cookbooks including “Dinner at Matt’s” as well as starring on hit television programs including Masterchef, Masterchef Junior, Heat in the Kitchen, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules, the Bank and his own dedicated series “Paddock to Plate”. Moran’s own “plate” proves to be jam packed with commitments. Yet Moran doesn’t let this overwhelm him, constantly looking towards the future. Being a fifth generation farmer, a love of the land and the finest produce see each of his establishments receive the finest quality meat from the Moran Family Farm within the Central Tablelands of New South Wales.
In a cut throat industry where restaurants prove to struggle and have short-lived hype and success, the Moran Empire has remained strong, holding a philosophy of “fostering passion and offering only the finest seasonal produce to diners every single day including Singapore Airlines Business and First Class passengers to whom are able to enjoy dishes designed by a culinary panel including Moran himself.
The 2016 horizon for Moran proves to be bright as he launches his latest 3-storey Barangaroo venue opening this year to which will house casual dinning options, a premium restaurant and a rooftop garden bar. We spoke exclusively with Matt Moran:
What are you currently inspired by?
Mother nature and seasonality. The changing seasons and fresh, locally sourced produce plays a big role in my cooking – it always has and always will. We change the menus at each of my restaurants every season. Also travel, both here and overseas. I’m lucky enough that as a chef and restaurateur I get to do a fair bit of it. Different cultures and their different cuisines and techniques are always an endless source of inspiration. I just returned to Australia from a trip to Singapore and currently, I’m on a tour of the Top End of Australia and absolutely loving it.
What made you decide to become a chef?
People ask me all the time what got me into cooking and they often assume the answer will involve stories about great cooks in the family and recipes passed down through the generations or something. But the truth is, I hated school and wanted a way out. So you could stay I stumbled upon cooking but in all honestly, the minute I walked into that kitchen as a 15 year old apprentice I just fell in love with it. It truly is a life-long love affair and I’m lucky I love it today just as much as the day I started. As a kid, food was very simple and I didn’t eat out at a restaurant until I was 14. But I did grow up on a dairy farm and looking back, it definitely plays a role in my love of the land, seasonality and farming. I can probably also thank my rural upbringing for instilling in me a work ethic and a certain toughness that’s served me well in my career as a chef and restaurateur.
What would be a typical home cooked meal by Matt Moran?
Home is actually one of my favourite places to cook whether it’s just me, for my family or entertaining friends. What’s on the menu varies though being an Aussie, I do love a barbecue! If we have friends over I’ll often do a porchetta, standing rib roast with a parsley crust or I’ll cook up some Angus or Wagyu. For the family I often keep it simple – we do love a roast chook and my poached chicken in master stock is always a winner too.
Talk us through the current menu at Aria
We change the menus at my restaurants seasonally and at ARIA we have lunch, pre-theatre, a la carte and of course the tasting menu. To talk you through some of the current dishes… Champagne lobster with sweetcorn congee and wakame. Baked Pacific oysters with spiced mussel butter, witlof and finger lime. Pork belly and blood sausage with sugar loaf cabbage, cipollini onions and apple sauce. Valrhona Kalingo chocolate pistachio bomb with raspberries. To name a few…
What is the greatest part of your job?
Sharing my enthusiasm for food with people and watching them enjoy it whether it’s a meal at my restaurants, cooking classes, TV shows, food festivals or chatting with my staff or people I meet. I love that food brings people together. We all eat, we all cook and no matter the culture or background, we all have social gatherings or celebrations where food is often the focal point. I also love the creativity of it and the travel, the growth and opportunities. There are infinite possibilities with food and the industry is constantly evolving.
Where is your all time favorite destination and why?
Tough question! Every country and culture offers up something new so I don’t have favorites - as a chef I love travel, meeting new people, seeing new places, tasting new dishes. I do have a soft spot for New York and Tokyo though. I can literally head to either of these cities even for 3 days or so, and just eat.
Where to next?
Chefs are generally known to be pretty restless and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities, I don’t really have plans to slow down. At the moment I’m expanding my kitchen garden at home in Sydney and I’m also working on plans at the family farm. We’ve got several projects in the pipeline on the restaurant front too but you’ll have to watch this space to find out what!