I’d Eat That… a Chat with Callum Hann
Callum Hann was the Masterchef runner up in 2010, has worked in George Calombaris’s restaurants in Melbourne, published two cookbooks and started the successful Sprout cooking school.
I gave Callum a call and we had a great chat. Callum told me about his recent trip overseas to Scotland, Ireland and Spain (I died of jealously), and all about the foodie scene in Adelaide (I’ve never been and I had to know! It’s awesome, Callum assured me, with plenty to do in everything direction). After hearing about Callum’s culinary experiences in Europe (he tried – and enjoyed – haggis) and all the foodie areas to visit if I ever came to Adelaide, I figured I’d better get to asking some questions about the new book. “Oh, that old thing,” Callum joked.
I’d Eat That, published by Murdoch Books (RRP: $24.95 and available here), is Callum’s second book following on from The Starter Kitchen. The recipes are all easy to prepare and use ingredients that are easy to find. The main idea behind this new book is teaching people who can’t cook, or can’t cook well, how to cook. It was inspired by Callum’s frustration with his friends who couldn’t cook. When I asked him whether there were any particular horror stories that sprung to mind, he told me about the friend he lived with when he moved out of home to go to university. The friend he moved out with, still a good friend of Callum’s, had never cooked in his life. Callum thought they’d share in the grocery shopping, cooking and eating, but realised quickly how wrong he’d been. The friend’s signature dish in those days was what Callum described as “veggie moosh”.
“Veggie moosh?” I asked.
“It was basically every vegetable he could find boiled in a pot for half an hour and then mashed with a potato masher and covered in tomato sauce. I can’t tell you how disgusting it looked.”
Think I’ll pass…
Fast forward a few years later, and you have I’d Eat That, a really cool book filled with easy and delicious recipes for people like Callum’s friends. It’s a handy size – pretty much the size of a novel which means it’s not going to take up too much space and it’s easy to transport. It’s filled with recipes you can cook midweek (did someone say ricotta gnocchi?), when you’re short on time (Thai salmon fish cakes or 10-minute white bean and parmesan soup sound appealing?) or when you’re hoping to impress (try the spice-crusted pork loin with apple cider glaze and figs or honey-glazed duck with peach, smoked almond and baby cos salad). There are sections dedicated to breakfast, sweet treats, baking and both sweet and savoury essentials like chocolate ganache and guacamole.
Any subsequent success stories? I wondered.
Yes! In fact, one of Callum’s friends even has a recipe featured in the book. Keep your eye out for Kyle’s Chilli Con Carne. It looks amazing.
The book also features many of the recipes that Callum teaches his students at Sprout, Callum’s cooking school. Sprout, Callum tells me, was started two and a half years ago as a side project with his business partner Themis Chryssidis. It’s now pretty much a full time job.
I’d Eat That is also full of plenty of advice. I asked Callum if he could give a rookie cook only one piece of advice what would it be. The answer? Texture. Callum says that when people are cooking they give a lot of thought to how things look and how things taste (both very important, of course), but one thing that people often don’t give a lot of thought to (which they should) is texture. Callum advises to think about what you can add to a dish to give it an extra texture and make it more interesting. For example, adding pine nuts to a salad. Or take pumpkin soup for example. Creamy and delicious. But after a while, it becomes a bit “same, same”. This can easily be fixed with the addition of crispy bacon or caramelised pepitas or even just some crunchy bread on the side.
On the subject of giving advice (seriously, there’s heaps of great advice in I’d Eat That), I also asked Callum if he was helping a friend move out for the first time, what five things would he say are essential for their kitchen. Here’s what he said:
1. A good thick, heavy, strong, sturdy wooden chopping board. According to Callum a good, thick, heavy, strong, sturdy wooden chopping board – as opposed to a small, flimsy plastic one – will make the world of difference. He says it’ll make life in the kitchen a lot easier.
2. One good chef’s knife. Callum said that investing in one good quality chef’s (or paring) knife is so much better than buying a block of lesser quality knives.
3. A heavy-based frying pan. You’ll know it’s a good one, according to Callum, if it feels heavy for its size. A cheap (and bad quality) frying pan will feel light and tinny. Such a frying pan won’t heat up evenly which means when you use it you’ll end up with “hot spots” which will cause your food to cook unevenly and burn in places. A heavy-based frying pan with a thick slab of metal at the bottom will heat up evenly and therefore cook your food evenly.
4. A casserole pot. Coming into winter, you can’t go wrong with a pot that you can use on the stove and in the oven. You can start something off on the stove and finish it off in the oven, while you’re doing something else. A slow cooker is another alternative.
5. A wok. There are an endless number of quick dishes you can cook in a wok. We’re talking (delicious) things that will take you 10-15 minutes when you get home after work.
All great advice, if you ask me.
My final question for Callum was “if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
Stay tuned for two exciting recipes from the book.
I’d Eat That is available now.