Anna Gare: Australia's new celebrity top chef

Australia's latest celebrity chef is making a name for herself on our screens too.

Australian foodie Anna Gare. Photo / Supplied
Australian foodie Anna Gare. Photo / Supplied

Anna Gare is the darling of Australian food television and a rising star here on Prime, where she has two programmes currently running. First up she stars alongside Ben O'Donoghue (Surfing the Menu) and award-winning Irish chef Darren Simpson in The Best of Australia, plus she is a host on Junior MasterChef Australia. Previously Gare had forged out a career in catering and before that was in a rock band. She's in town this week for a special Prime event and took the time to share a few of her culinary secrets with Viva.

My earliest food memory ... eating fresh mulberries and icecream at my grandma's. I remember mushing it altogether in the bowl and finding the colour a bit murky, but incredibly delicious.

My store cupboard essentials are ... flour, rice sugar, salt and grains. Preserved lemons - I make my own when my lemon tree is going crazy. Nuts, I use them in marinades, tapenades, salads, desserts and baking cakes.

Canned beans and tomatoes for quick pull-together meals. Whole spices. I love cooking with fresh spices particularly cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel.

The kitchen appliance I can't live without ... I love my mortar and pestle, because I use lots of fresh herbs and spices in my cooking and I love the ritual of using it. I think the pounding and grinding gives more depth to the flavour and it's also good exercise. I love my grandma's old wooden hand-beaters and I love my Kitchen Aid when making desserts because I can beat egg whites and cream butter and sugar in 10 seconds.

My top culinary tip is ... Start with good fresh produce, cook seasonally and keep it simple and honest. Continue to offer your children food they don't like.

The highlight of being in the all-girl rock band Jam Tart was ... being a part of the live music scene in the 80s and 90s, when there were more live bands than venues. It was amazing back then. Just about every pub, club, hotel or theatre had live bands playing in them. I was a teenager then and I loved being in a touring band. We toured in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and England. I loved being on the road, eating out and playing gigs. I think when you are a tourist and have something to offer it's a great way to meet people and you get a different insight into a place.

When it comes to my career sometimes I can't believe ... I have been very lucky to combine my two passions: cooking and performing.

What makes The Best in Australia unique is ... It was basically all shot live. Also Darren Simpson!

While working on Junior MasterChef is ... completely different and a fantastic challenge. I do love a challenge. My role is more presenting and I love working with the kids. They were amazing little cooks and it really took me back to when I was a young cook myself. I have had to stop boasting about the food I cooked as a kid though - it didn't compare with duck wontons and tea smoked fish in consomme.

My guilty pleasure is ... Maggie Beer's burnt fig icecream. Alone on the couch ... with the whole tub.

Most people don't know this about me but ... my husband thinks I am a food maniac. And also I have just written my first cookbook.

My long-term plan is ... to write cook books and to do lots of food research. Travelling and eating!

I'd just like to add ... fresh fennel to just about anything at the moment. I am going through a big fennel phase.

* The Best in Australia is shown on Prime, 9.30pm on Sundays, while Junior MasterChef Australia shows at 8.30pm Mondays and 6pm Saturdays, also on Prime. Look out for Gare's cookbook in stores from September.

- NZ Herald

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