We've long been fans of Australian chef Pete Evans. Back home he is known as a successful restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality — his show My Kitchen Rules is the #1 prime time tv show in Oz — but he has tended to fly slightly more under the radar in the U.S. His first U.S. television show, which launched this month, should change that, allowing more Americans to get to know Evans, as he gets some immersion in the ingredients and culinary traditions of some cool culinary destination.
Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking, a 13-episode series produced by WGBH and Fine Cooking magazine, takes Evans — and viewers — on a culinary journey across America. He visits artisanal chocolate factories, New England farms, goes crabbing to catch Dungeness crab in Puget Sound, embarks on a quahogging adventure in to gather up Atlantic hard clams. and ends the season in a rooftop garden in New York City. At each stop Evans, teams up with some of the country's most revered and innovative chefs including Jacques Pepin, Tom Douglas, Thierry Rautureau, Duskie Estes, Mark Stark Anita Lo, Jonathan Waxman, Matt Lightner, and father-son team Chefs Marc and Larry Forgione to cook a meal spur-of-the-moment “culinary jams” to create in one day a feast for a hungry horde of guests. We talked to Evans, who gave us some insight into the series.
What does the term "fine cooking" mean to you?
Fine cooking to me is about being creative and stepping outside your comfort zone. It's slightly different to home cooking in the sense that you may spend a little more time preparing your dish, but to be honest I'm a great believer in combining the two. And one of the wonderful things about filming Moveable Feast was working closely with Fine Cooking magazine. The publication showcases great chefs, amazing recipes and excellent techniques to inspire the home cook, and encouraging people to get into the kitchen and create their own delicious nutritious food is an ultimate acheivement for me.
How did the idea of the show come about?
WGBH and I had intended to do a show together for quite some time, so when the concept for the show was presented to me I just knew it was the perfect fit. I'm a quintessential Aussie bloke in the sense that I love the outdoors - hunting, fishing and gathering and of course creating good honest food is certainly my idea of an exceptional time, so Moveable Feast was a dream job for me, especially because I even managed to get a surf in while on location in California.
How did you choose the cities and chefs?
Well it started with the chefs actually. We wanted to showcase chefs that were known for their innovative cuisine, use of fresh regional ingredients and who had established close relationships with the local food purveyors and artisans. So once the chefs were on board, we collaborated to find the beautiful and unique locations for each of the feasts - from a secret sea cove on the California coast to a rooftop garden in NYC and of course everything in between. Each episode allowed these passionate and engaging chefs to share their tips and techniques, much like Fine Cooking magazine, to inspire viewers to get into the kitchen and cook at home.
Did you have a favorite city? Or favorite aspect of each city?
I loved every city we visited. Every location had something special about it, as did each and every chef I worked alongside. They all inspired me on different levels and gave me a wonderful taste of what they stood for. I was also blown away by the incredible produce that each region had on offer. I was completely spoilt for choice.
Was there a knockout dish of the season?
I definitely enjoyed every dish immensely, but I must admit I have an intense love for liver pate and the Wise Son's version fully knocked my socks off!
Were there any surprises? Any new ingredients or techniques you came across?
Absolutely, each episode opened my eyes to something new and exciting, but the most out there ingredient that I was introduced to was the weird and wonderful Geoduck. It's a large, edible salt water clam and I whipped up a sublime dish to compliment it's beautifully delicate flavor. I felt very honored to be learning and evolving my own reportoire the entire length of the incredible Moveable Feast journey.