Blog with celebrity chef Callum Hann

CALLUM HANNCallum Hannbecame a household name after coming runner up on the hit television series MasterChef in 2010. He again provedhimself a master in the kitchen this year when he beat sentimental favouriteJulie Goodwin to win the show’s All Starschallenge.

Callum, 24, was raised in theBarossa Valley in South Australi, a region famous for its premium wines andfabulous food. Like his neighbour Maggie Beer, Callum has a passion for foodand loves creating meals using seasonal produce.

This week, Callum joins ConnectPink, Fairfax Regional Media’s online website for women, as a foodie blogger and is keen to share hispassion – and his recipes – with the ConnectPink community.

Journalist Michelle O’Rielly spoke with Callum and learnedmore about his cooking style and tricks of the trade.

What types of recipesand words of wisdom do you hope to share with ConnectPink members?

I love to cook simple, seasonal food which still has a wowfactor. I would love ConnectPink users to try something new and maybe learn afew more techniques. There is no place in my life for hiding recipes or havingkitchen secrets; for me food is there to be shared.

What’s your favouritedish and why?

My favourite dish is constantly changing; I get a bit boredif I cook the same things too often. My girlfriend Chloe and I have justexpanded our vegie garden, so I am getting stuck into lots of fresh salads atthe moment.

What are your tips tocreating healthy meals on a budget?

I think the key is organisation. Try to plan a week’s worthof meals and do one big shop, which saves you so much time and money in thelong run. It also allows you to take advantage of leftovers and freezing futuremeals.

How do you suggestnew cooks or non-cooks ease their way into the kitchen?

I think the best thing to do is just get stuck into it. Ifthe worst thing that happens to you in your day is you burn a couple of steaks,I think that’s still a pretty good day.

What are yourfavourite kitchen utensils and why?

A good quality sharp chef’s knife and a large, sturdychopping board. The most used items in the kitchen. If you are going to spendmoney, spend it here.

Who influences yourcooking?

Jamie Oliver has been my biggest cooking inspiration since Iwas a child. I’m lucky enough to now be the Australian ambassador for Jamie’sHome Cooking Skills.

What ingredientscan’t you live without?

Garlic, spices, herbs, condiments, good quality olive oiland lemons. The little heroes that make all the difference in a plate of food.

Where is yourfavourite place to eat out?

It sounds a bit corny, but Chloe’s mum cooks a mighty fineroast dinner. She is one of those people where you don’t ask for secondhelpings, she makes you have second helpings. Not that I’m complaining.

How do you describeyour kitchen when cooking?

My kitchen isn’t ideal, it’s rather small and poky, so Ihave to be organised to function in it properly.

What’s growing inyour vegetable garden?

At the moment there are leeks, garlic, beetroot, chard,chillies, capsicum, tomatoes, peas, snow peas, strawberries, lemons and a wholearray of herbs.

Is fresh always best?

I would be reluctant to say fresh is always best. It usuallyis, but for example I would rather use frozen raspberries in winter than buyingout of season berries for $15 a punnet. Sometimes the convenience of frozen orcanned food is a suitable substitute for fresh.

Why is it importantto taste food during the cooking process?

If you follow a recipe exactly you will end up with ittasting exactly how the author of that recipe wants it to taste. We all havedifferent tastes, so constantly tasting and adjusting is vital. If I say “juiceof a lemon” in a recipe, all lemons are different sizes right?

Has travellingoverseas influenced your recipe choices?

Definitely, I have expanded my horizons by seeing not onlywhat other countries eat, but how they eat it. I love tasting a new dish, andthinking about how I can recreate it in my own kitchen.

Is there one dish youjust cannot master?

No matter how many times I try to make my mum’s chocolatetorte, it never seems to taste quite as good as hers.

What rule or sayingdo you live by in your kitchen?

Anyone can cook!

Sample Callum’s culinary style at www.connectpink苏州美甲美睫培训.au, where he’skicking off with a delicious recipe for Vietnamese Chicken with Green MangoSalad.