Hayden Quinn - On Cooking, George Calombaris and Dish It Up

AGFG asked Hayden a quick Q and A as we lead up to Australia Day.

Make sure you read our review on Hayden's new book Dish it Up here, perfect for summer, the outdoors and Australia Day.

Hayden Quinn - On Cooking, George Calombaris and Dish It Up

AGFG: What do you love about your career?

Hayden: I love the fact that I get to do what I love. I travel, I eat, I can sometimes make people smile, I meet new people every day and most important of all, I continue to learn every single day.

AGFG: When did you first get interested in cooking and how?

Hayden: I was lucky to grow up in a home that loved food. My Mum was an incredible cook (she was a home economist) and Dad was forever active and we all ate a lot! From this I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen with Mum, watching and learning and what I think was probably asking a lot of annoying questions. As I grew up, the dishes got trickier and the teachers came in the form of guys like Jamie Oliver and others who’s books I would read and watch on TV. Then there was travel. I didn’t travel for the food, I travelled because I loved the adventure and the new people I met along the way (and the surf) and while I travelled I took a lot from the culture and cuisine which was surrounding me. I cook because I don’t want to pay someone else to do what I think I can do just as good myself.

AGFG: Who are your greatest inspirations?

Hadyen: In food, that would have to be Mum, and then guys like Jamie Oliver and Curtis Stone who have not only inspired a love of food in a generation but are also generating a change in the way we lead our busy lives.

AGFG: What was it like being on television with George Calombaris? Do you two still talk regularly?

Hayden: George is a legend! He was great fun to be on set with, he also understood that every now and then I needed a good kick up the ass and would kindly give it haha. I still chat with George every now and then, if I am in Melbourne I will send him a text and he was also kind enough to write a little paragraph in endorsement of my book, Dish it Up.

AGFG: What was your inspiration for “Dish it Up?”

Hayden: Dish it Up is a real culmination of my experiences through food. All the recipes have a story and a reason for being in there. I feel that if you read and cook from Dish it Up, you will get to know me a little better.

AGFG: What are your favourite recipes from your latest book?

Hayden: Mmmm (haha) this changes all the time. At the moment it is the Glazed Salmon Salad (pge 32) and the Sri Lankan Long Bean Curry (pge 145). Hayden Quinn - On Cooking, George Calombaris and Dish It UpAGFG: For those just starting out and finding their passion for food what would be your advice to them?

Hayden: Start with something you think will be achievable (like my Choc Chip Cookie recipe) and build up from there. Cook for family and friends and start small and gain confidence, then begin experimenting and making the food your own, and always remember, the recipe is just a guide, not a strict set of rules. Have fun with it!!!!

AGFG: How would you define your cooking style?

Hayden: Haha all over the shop! I cook things on a whim and generally make a great mess doing it! However the food that I do create is generally fresh, has punchy flavours and is mainly there to fuel my body to do all the things I love to do.

AGFG: What are your feature flavours these days?

Hayden: Coconut, chipotle, cumin, and handful’s of fresh herbs from my garden (I am an avid gardener).

AGFG: What ingredient could you not live without?

Hayden: Butter, eggs, seafood.

AGFG: If you were a food what would you be?

Hayden: I think at this time of year I would want to be a mango! They make people happy in summer.

AGFG: What has been the highlight of your new found stardom so far?

Hayden: Stardom? AGFG: (Hayden's a bit humble - to say the least).

Hayden: I guess as I mentioned before, being able to meet amazing people everyday is pretty awesome, from the everyday punter at the market to people I would never have dreamed to have met.

Images courtesy of Murdoch Books and www.haydenquinn.com.au