Irish chef Paul Rankin co-stars in Paul & Nick's Big Food Trip New Zealand, with fellow chef Nick Nairn, Saturdays at 7pm on Prime.
New Zealand knocked my socks off. Everyone says New Zealand is beautiful, but they don't tell you it's off-the-scale beautiful. Virtually everywhere you go, every corner you turn, there's something completely incredible. The nature in New Zealand is one of my greatest ever travel hits. But something a little bit more quirky was in 1982 when my ex-wife and I were travelling in Nepal. We had been in India for about six months and were heading towards Australia and we had been talking about our careers. We had been working as waiters to make money to travel and we were discussing how much we'd need to learn about food and about the kitchen. We bought our first cookbook in a bookstore in Kathmandu, so in a way I think of that day as the start of my cooking journey. It was Katie Stewart's Sunday Times Cook Book and I've still got it today. It's a treasured possession.
Recently I visited the beautiful Greek Island of Catalonia. I've had a 25-year love affair with Greece, it's one of my favourite places on the planet. It's the combination of the people, hospitality, the ruggedness, the incredible water and the beautiful food. I'd been to Catalonia before but I'd never registered that it was on an earthquake fault line. We were walking around town and there was a big plaque we passed that said "In memory of the 1953 earthquake" and I went, "oh god they must have had a big earthquake here." We kept walking and saw a big 13 painted on the wall and my girlfriend's son said, "look at that 13, something bad is going to happen". Anyway, off we go to bed and at about 2am comes this massive earthquake. We were about 100km away from the epicentre, but I'd never been in an earthquake and the aftershocks kept coming. It was very scary.