Jack Stein's genes may have destined him to become a chef but his upbringing also made travelling a way of life, writes Stephanie Holmes.

Western Australia's Margaret River region has become synonymous with good food and wine so to make a TV show about the area was a dream come true for British chef Jack Stein.

Yes, the name is familiar: he's the middle son of one of Britain's most-famous, most-loved chefs Rick Stein, and is now executive chef of the Stein empire — nine restaurants, a cookery school and pub.

Although clearly very busy, he jumped at the chance to again follow in the old man's footsteps and host a TV show of his own.


The idea for Born to Cook arose when the Steins were in WA for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival, an annual event that attracts a large number of internationally acclaimed chefs (last year's line-up included the Steins, Alex Atala, Curtis Stone and Ana Ros).

"Every year there's somebody else there that you've always wanted to meet," Jack says.

"It's nice for chefs to go home and talk about the area, and it's good for chefs to get together."

It's also good for Margaret River — and WA as a whole — showcasing this remote and vast region's incredible wine, food, growers and producers. It's this concept that Jack's new show is all about. He travels around the region, meeting the people involved in the food industry, hearing their stories and sampling their produce, creating his own recipes along the way.

"It's the idea of getting behind the producers and realising that we all have the same viewpoint," he says, talking to Sunday Travel from his home in Padstow, Cornwall where the Stein empire is based. "Work hard and you can create the building block of something that the home cook can enjoy."

Jack meets diverse food industry types, from truffle farmers to cherry orchard workers, fishermen to surfers, vintners to gin makers. He found they all had one thing in common.

"They're all very humble people — but you sit down and start talking to them and they open up these amazing stories.

"That's the thing about Australia and New Zealand — you don't shout about yourselves too much."


Growing up with Rick Stein as a father meant Jack was pretty much guaranteed to become a foodie, but he says his love of travel can be attributed to his parents, too. The Stein family — Rick, first wife Jill, and their three sons, Ed, Jack and Charlie — travelled extensively together while Jack was growing up and he says it shaped his entire life.

"My mum and dad taught me travel and food and culture — that triumvirate has always been at the heart of our family," he says. "We first travelled to Australia in 1984/85 and always via the Far East. Since then we've been almost everywhere.

"It's taught me a lot of stuff, not just about food, but also about people, humanity . . . as a 7-year-old in a market in Goa you don't think about this, but as an adult I look back and think it's so important and it's influenced how I am as a person and also how I cook.

They were trying to look for inspiration for restaurants but they also managed to inspire me and my two brothers to do the same in our lives."

By all accounts, it seems to have worked.

Born to Cook: Jack Stein Down Under premieres on Food TV on Wednesday, January 24, 8.30pm