Bill Granger chats about his love of food and family.
Speaking to Bill Granger is pure joy, his energy and enthusiasm for cooking is electric. He may be one of Australia’s leading cooks, but he is also one of the most generous and happy people to talk to. This internationally acclaimed Aussie chats to TheCarousel.com about growing up with food, his cooking inspiration and also shares his secrets on getting his three daughters to eat healthy food.
Your father was a Melbourne butcher and your mother a vegetarian, so who inspired you to start cooking?
I think I was born with a love of food, I like to eat out at restaurants and taste all types of food. My parents weren’t into food and then later they were separated. So this made me very family oriented. The emotional pull of food and family is important to me. We have a formal setting for every meal, well not ‘formal’ but we all eat meals together at a table. That way we can discuss and share our lives over food.
A study of over 1,600 Australian children aged between six and 17 years revealed 92 per cent don’t know bananas grow on plants and six in ten (61%) are unaware that herbs such as mint grow from the ground. Do these statistics surprise you?
I am surprised but not shocked, we are so removed from where our food comes from now. We need to understand more about nutrition and what you should be eating. We need to teach our children more about the food we take for granted.
What are your thoughts on extreme diets such as paleo?
Well, I am the opposite of paleo. It’s good if you have no family to look after. Paleo is for single people who live in Bondi with no kids. It’s good to be passionate about food, but not obsessed. The French and Japanese understand food, they appreciate good food, but don’t eat too much of it.
What fruit or vegetable did you hate most as a kid?
Brussel sprouts which had been boiled for 25 minutes… Aghhh, it was the 70’s. Now I love them, shaved and dressed with olive oil and parmesan as a salad. Or simply fried with garlic and ginger.
What did you like to cook mostly as a kid?
Cakes. Probably because I love the science of cooking.
What do your girls like to cook the most?
Any cakes. Sometimes our place feels like a cupcake factory! There’s flour, sugar and decorations everywhere. They are obsessed with the Hummingbird cookbook and love to cook the red velvet chocolate cake with half a tonne of red food colouring and the rich cream cheese. On Sunday’s they now cook pancakes for me, with ricotta, which is great. I am really into having some protein for breakfast. I have cooked enough pancakes in my life three times over. So it’s nice they cook pancakes for me now.
I am assuming your family travels the world extensively. How do you get the girls to eat and enjoy international cuisine?
We have food immersions when we travel, we only eat the countries’ cuisine. In Japan we only eat Japanese, so for breakfast we eat a Japanese breakfast etc. We have a running joke that my daughter Eddie ate through a 7 course tofu degustation in Japan at the age of 7. The girls are great eaters.
What are your top tips for getting kids to eat healthy food?
We say “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. I say don’t give up on giving your children fresh, healthy food. I’d do chopped up veggies in the lunchboxes and they would come back all the time. But then after a year, the girls would eat them, the lunchboxes came back empty. So don’t give up, you have to be relentless, you are setting your children up for a healthy life, so they’re not sick in their 40’s or even in their 70’s and beyond. But treats are important, maybe once or twice a week. And Friday night is chef’s night off, no one cooks, we have sushi or some type of takeaway.
What food trends are currently influencing your recipes?
Whole foods like quinoa, freekah, green smoothies, it’s all very 70’s. But I like the idea of re-looking at healthy food.
What ingredients will I always find in your fridge and pantry?
Lemons, olive oil, sea salt, soy sauce and….. champagne! You should always be ready to celebrate something!
Click here for Bill Granger’s recipe for Tasty Spinach & Mascarpone Tart .
What’s your favourite Bill Granger recipe? Tell us below…