Born: Oxfordshire, England
History: By definition Rick Stein wears many professional hats, being a ‘celebrity chef’, restauranteur, author and television presenter. In 1995, he launched into his first TV cookery series ‘Taste of The Sea’ and since then 9 more TV series have been produced alongside a corresponding cookbook. His latest endeavour is ‘Rick Stein’s Spain’.
How does your background as a chef inform your work on television?
Producing good TV always requires a trade off between myself and the producers. I’m constantly in conversation with my director, David Pritchard because if I had my way, from a chef’s perspective, we’d be cooking recipes in the show all the time.
When we do get to the cooking part, I am not terribly careful about doing it exactly the way I’ve observed; I’ll change a recipe around a bit because I have cooked for so many years that I adopt my own interpretation. People who’ve watched my programs and read the related cookbooks sometimes write and query as to why my cooking demonstration deviated to some degree from the way I’ve written it in the book.
How would you define your style?
I’m all about keeping things simple. The accompaniments to any dish must always be of the best quality and kept simple as well. My style is also distinguished by the generous proportions, usually of very fresh fish. In my second book I offered, ‘Nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish simply cooked.’ This seems to sum up my secret to success and define my style.
What is your feature flavour these days?
First and foremost, we’re always looking for seafood that’s in season. At Bannisters you’ll often find John Dory, Kingfish, Tuna, Blue Eye & Sea Urchins.
Are you impressed by the measure of growth in the popularity of food and the impact ‘celebrity chefs’ have today?
It’s nice to see Australia & New Zealand turning back to traditional ways, celebrating cooking with consideration for all the camaraderie and fellowship that goes along with it. Some people ask me if I think people will ever tire of cookery shows and my natural response is not the good ones.
What do you love about this business?
I’m now associated with 8 restaurants and currently working at Bannisters. When I’m away, most often I stay connected with all my restaurant teams on a daily basis, either by phone or email. I meet with each restaurant’s kitchen staff periodically to ensure there’s a creative exchange, so we gather around and tell stories of restaurants we’ve visited and look at current food trends.
I often find that a recipe I’m trialling at one restaurant can be tweaked for success in another, changing ingredients around emphasize those that are sourced locally.