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Simon Bryant

dirt(y)...and simon

about meraining lentils

I'm a chef, no longer the Exec Chef at Hilton Adelaide which was home for around 10 years, but I'm still rattling pots and pans around. I'm a sometime television presenter (with that force of nature and all round good food, Barossa girl Maggie Beer) on the ABC's "The Cook and The Chef." We knocked out over a 150 episodes of the series, but I have hung my clogs up from TV for a while.

Before all this I was in Melbourne where I started cooking twenty-odd years ago. Thai and Indian (my first cooking gigs) will always be sentimental favorites on my menus. I love the economy of, and the explosive but harmoniously balanced flavours of both these cuisines. I still cook a lot in this style for my home meals.

I moved to Adelaide shortly after Cheong Liew made The Grange Restaurant his home. I had flown over one night to eat his menu (still one of the most memorable meals I have ever had), and pretty soon after had a job in the Hilton kitchens.

It took a while to get into The Grange Kitchen but I ended up as a Chef De Partie in the meat section and was introduced to Cheong's classic French technique and a myriad of Malaysian/Chinese flavours.

As far as describing a food philosophy, these days I just want the most ethically sourced, local and fresh ingredients. I reckon my job is just to get these onto a plate with the minimum of fuss and let the produce shine.

Forget about chefs getting all the limelight for a moment, it's about the product and the producer these days for me. The chef is just a vehicle to get their hard work on the plate. If you grow your own food I am sure you will agree, you just want to cook simply and honestly to do justice to the amazing flavour that good produce exudes.

Being able to cook for someone is one of the nicest thing you can do, but (and this is a big BUT) the choices you make when you shop are as important to me as the cooking.

Outside of my day job I'm a semi-competent, home-organic-gardener; a committed vegie eater; and now a (sometimes) purveyor of the stuff I cook with. Which means you can get your hands on some of the best produce in Australia and cook dirt(y) at home...