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Chefs at home: Trent Harvey, Pop Up Chef

Belinda Neame

It’s an oft-used chiché

On every reality television cooking show there’s a moment—perhaps even several—where contestants will tear up as they recount childhood memories in the kitchen with a loved one, and how those early days shaped their “food journey”.

It’s hard to resist an eye roll when the accompanying violin soundtrack reaches its quavering crescendo, but there’s no denying that the home environment can have a powerful influence on our relationship with food.

For our HerCanberra Magazine: Home, we go into the kitchens (and one garden) of three Canberra chefs to discover the influence of family and home on the food they love to cook.

Trent Harvey, Pop Up Chef

WHAT ROLE DID FOOD PLAY IN YOUR CHILDHOOD?

I grew up on an apple orchard. We always had a lot of homegrown fruit and veggies and had cows that we milked. Milking the cows and drinking the fresh milk straight from the bucket in the fridge has got to be one of the earliest food memories that I have.

WHO HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR APPROACH TO COOKING?

My brother and I stayed with our grandparents a lot growing up—Grandma and Grandpop lived in another house on the same property as us. I didn’t realise it until later in life, but I think the time I spent with Grandma in the kitchen influenced my attitude towards food a lot.

My grandparents lived a very self- sufficient lifestyle. I remember picking homegrown fruit and vegetables and making things like jams, chutneys and pickles. It’s a lifestyle that I’ve really grown to value and desire now. My Nan was also a very proficient cook and I have fond memories of my cousins and I “helping out” in the kitchen regularly.

ANY FAVOURITE HOME-COOKED MEALS AS YOU WERE GROWING UP?

I can remember my Nan’s Sunday roasts being top notch. Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings covered in gravy and golden syrup (English heritage). I still love a good roast!

WHEN YOU PREPARE MEALS FOR FRIENDS AT HOME, WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL?

I guess it depends on the weather, but I tend to cook a lot of dishes based around some kind of slow-cooked meat. Being able to start it in the morning and let it do its thing in the oven all day makes for an easy plate-up and very little time in the kitchen when friends arrive. It’s also easy for slow-cooked dishes to pack a lot of flavour and impress with little effort.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY.

Keep it simple. I always try to cook/eat healthy whilst enjoying all foods in a balanced and considered way. I try to buy local and the best quality ingredients I can.

For cooking at home, I tend to buy whatever is fresh and in season (which usually also means cheap) and just decide what I’m going to cook on the
day depending on how I feel. I’m not one to follow recipes. I try to keep a stocked pantry of staples which makes it much easier—sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t!

ANY TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MAKING ENTERTAINING AT HOME LESS STRESSFUL?

Choose a menu where you can prepare most of it ahead of time. You don’t want
 to be in the kitchen too long when people arrive. It’s a lot easier to do all the legwork when your family and/or friends aren’t looking over your shoulder.

Choose a few good-quality ingredients and try to treat them the best way you possibly can. Choose dishes and flavours that complement each other or stick with one style of cuisine.

It’s probably also best to cook something you have cooked before as you’ll know quantities, cooking times and whether or not it even tastes good! Just keep things simple and enjoy your cooking and the food you’re eating!

Cauliflower + Coconut Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1⁄2 head of cauliflower
  • 1⁄2 brown onion
  • 
400ml can coconut milk
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 30g butter
  • 2 Pialligo Estate Pork, Fennel and Chilli Sausages
  • 1-2 spring onions
  • Coconut yoghurt, toasted coconut flakes and toasted fennel seeds to garnish

Serves 2 to 4

METHOD

Slice the onion and cauliflower into small pieces.

Place onion and cauliflower in large saucepan over high heat with coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring
to the boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the onion and cauliflower are very soft.

Slice spring onions into small pieces, separating the green and white parts.

Remove skins from sausages, chop into small chunks and brown with the white parts of the spring onions over medium-high heat in a splash of olive or coconut oil. Try to break up sausages into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon while cooking.

When cauliflower is soft, blend well with the butter using a stick blender. Season with flaked sea salt to taste.

Serve blended soup in a large bowl with a couple of big spoons of the sausage and cooked spring onions.

Garnish with a large dollop of coconut yoghurt, green parts of spring onions and toasted coconut and fennel seeds sprinkled liberally on top!

PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean Photography

This article originally appeared as part of our CHEFS AT HOME article in Magazine: Home for Autumn 2018, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here

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Belinda Neame

Belinda is HerCanberra's Production Manager. A foodie and lover of handmade, Belinda enjoys nothing more than a good coffee and seeing Canberra businesses thrive. In her 'spare time', Belinda organises the quarterly Canberra street food event, The Forage with her husband Tim. More about the Author

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