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Shore Leave Festival: Australian chef and restaurateur Matt Moran serves up at Paddock to Plate, beach market

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Chef Matt Moran joins Jesse and the Petition Kitchen for a collaborative dinner on October 30 to promote Matt's new book Australian Food
Camera IconChef Matt Moran joins Jesse and the Petition Kitchen for a collaborative dinner on October 30 to promote Matt's new book Australian Food Credit: supplied/supplied

An Australian food expert known to be a passionate chef sourcing quality, seasonal produce and a country farmer supplying local meat to his restaurants, will be serving up farm-based food at Paddock to Plate.

An advocate of paddock-to-plate philosophy in Australia Matt Moran will be the guest chef at the Shore Leave Paddock to Plate event at Yanget Farm, serving produce directly from the land.

Cooking for more than 35 years, the Eastern States chef moved from the countryside and got into cooking when he was 15, buying his first restaurant at 22 and currently owns 12 businesses with more than 800 employees.

He said he fell in love with cooking at an early age and these days, everything inspired him.

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“The industry has come a long way, we have incredible produce and that’s opened up a lot more from when I first started,” he said.

Moran said he believed it was important for people to know the origins of the food being served on their plate, which was why he reared his own beef, lamb and pig at Green Hills Farm in Yarragon and would look over his highly regarded Eastern States restaurant menus.

Some of Moran’s restaurants include fine dining Aria Sydney, kitchen garden Chiswick, steak lovers paradise Chophouse Sydney, buzzing Barangaroo House, seafood sensation North Bondi Fish, relaxed yet stylish Opera Bar and Brisbane’s Riverbar and Kitchen.

“I’ve got a country pub that I own out near my farm, I still live in the city obviously but I spend a lot of time out in the country,” he said

“My food has always been about the produce, I think I’m only the chef I am because of the farmers and the produce that we buy. I love that connection from the farming to the restaurants.”

Moran made his way around the Gascoyne town Carnarvon in 2014 to film an episode of his Paddock to Plate DVD series, but hadn’t made his way to Geraldton yet.

“It’s very exciting, I love getting around Australia, I love WA and it’s been a while since I’ve been up this way,” he said.

During the series, Moran spoke about Carnarvon’s “oasis”, the bananas that were sweeter than the Queensland counterparts, making banana jam with local legend Jo Bumbak, and the “near legendary” pink snapper and blue swimmer crab.

Moran watched a blue swimmer harvest with local crab fisherman Peter Jacks, whose grounds were wiped out by storms years before, and visited Ketut and Wes Bassett’s certified organic avocado farm.

“I’m very lucky, they say if you do something you love in life you don’t have to work another day,” he said.

Moran was most looking forward to visiting Geraldton to venture out and see as much as he can while taking part in Shore Leave, an event which he said he didn’t do a lot.

“I’ll be bringing some chefs with me, Laura has been working with me for 16 years,” he said.

“It’s obviously for us to cook our food and give something to the people in Geraldton but also it’s for us to check out what’s going on around Western Australia and hopefully venture out and find some produce that we probably haven’t seen before.”

Moran said he was not only excited to take part in Shore Leave, but also to see the agriculture in the Mid West and take advantage of the Coral Coast’s “incredible coastline”.

The father and husband said the Paddock to Plate menu would consist of shared foods including Bookara haloumi cheese, Baston Grove olives, locally farmed steak, and baked bread with homemade tartare.

But before the food frenzy, Moran will be at the Central Regional TAFE for a special Q&A session on Friday, April 28 from 8.30am-10am and said he was excited to meet the students.

“It’s always good to be able to inspire young chefs, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Moran said signature dishes included slow-roasted lamb shoulder and fire-roasted chicken with spiced yoghurt, and although some ingredients would come from Sydney, he said it was important to use as much local produce as possible.

He will also be cooking up a storm at the Shore Leave Beach Price Markets, serving up barbecue western rock lobster with tarragon and mustard, western rock lobster roll with cucumber and spicy Marie-rose and western rock lobster and avocado and mango salad.

The cook-off at the Beach Price Kitchen presented by Buy West Eat Best are free so everyone will be able to meet Matt and gain some cooking tips from 10am-4pm on Saturday, April 29.

The Paddock to Plate dinner will be held on Saturday, April 29 from 4pm-9pm.

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