Introduction

Introduction

By
Ben O'Donoghue
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742704708
Photographer
Mark Roper

Throughout my life, food has always been a source of pleasure. From the time I spent helping and watching my grandmother make cakes, both in the UK and here in Australia, to my early youth and Tom Sawyer–like adventures of fishing, camping and cooking outdoors in the north-west of Australia, followed by my professional discoveries through travels in Europe and Asia, cooking and eating has never failed to excite and inspire me.

I’ve always been overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the world of food – the information, recipes, techniques and cultural diversity. When I was a young apprentice I felt inadequate and hopelessly naive. I thought I could never possibly know it all, or remember everything I had learnt so far or would learn in the future. Thankfully, this is still true. It is this feeling of discovery that drives me and most chefs onwards in the search for new and wonderful flavours, and it is these discoveries that are our reward.

The greatest reward, though, is the ability to share these discoveries and experiences with the people you love. Food brings people together; it breaks down barriers, and communicates across language and culture. It is the greatest diplomat, romantic and seductress.

My first standalone book, Outdoor, embraced this concept across the global world of the barbecue. With this book, I wanted to share a snapshot of my life in food so far. The sheer enormity of this task was overwhelming – how could I decide which recipes to include from a professional career of twenty-three years of cooking and eating?

Stepping back and looking at things objectively, I decided to focus on the recipes that represent the concept of shared experience. Dishes that have brought me pleasure and whose memory I treasure. The dishes that have been cooked for me by friends, my favourites from the many I have cooked in restaurants I have run or worked in, the ones I have eaten at other restaurants, those I have cooked in various cooking shows that have not yet been published, and also the dishes I cook in my current restaurant in Brisbane, the South Bank Surf Club.

I also wanted to look at different occasions in which to share these experiences and recipes. Since I have moved back to Australia from the UK, my life has changed incredibly and become more rich in terms of lifestyle. The ability to entertain in more space and in better weather drives us outside into our backyards or decks, bringing the outside in! We tend to do breakfast and brunch more often. We eat lighter and also eat more Asian-influenced dishes, as the freshness, spiciness and availability of produce is suited to those cuisines.

Importantly, eating well costs money! As a father of three, I wanted to share recipes that are everyday and family-oriented, while also practising something we seem to have forgotten or do little about these days – home economics! Making use of leftovers is something previous generations lived with, especially after the war and into the 1950s and ’60s.

We need to move away from our disposable culture. By cooking larger cuts of meat and poultry, we can use the leftovers to create dishes over the next two or three days. For example, cook up a lovely roast beef, chicken or pork on the Sunday, and then use the leftovers in a rice dish the next night, and make stocks and soups with the meat bones.

I also encourage you to spend a little more on produce that is free range, rare breed, organic or slow. It is better in terms of animal husbandry and welfare, while also being less intensively grown. It means you throw less away, which in turn reduces what goes into landfill. If we are to enjoy this world we live in, we need to respect and use its fruits well.

I hope these recipes bring you pleasure when cooking, eating and sharing food!

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