MasterChef Australia co-host MattPreston has one piece of advice for all aspiring master chefs.
“Keep it simple. Don’t expect it to be perfect first time. Cooking is like anything. The more you do it the better you’ll get. Find a recipe source you can trust, then follow the recipe. It’s amazing how many people don’t,” he said.
“Remember, don’t stress – it’s only food.”
The celebrated food critic and cookbook author has been announced as the headline attraction for this year’s Parklands Food Fest, on Saturday, September 8 at Lizard Log Park in Abbotsbury.
The event will feature 50 food and drink stalls offering street food, traditional cuisine and desserts from across western Sydney and around the world.
There will also be farm-fresh produce, cooking and gardening demonstrations, a local brewers’ marquee, live entertainment and a dedicated kids’ entertainment area.
Mr Preston will give a live cooking demonstration featuring recipes from his most recent book, Yummy, Quick and Easy (plus a sneak preview of his soon-to-be-released book).
Speaking to the Champion, the self-proclaimed food nerd said he was looking forward to the seventh annual event.
“I’m a food nerd and so there’s nothing I like more than hanging out at an event like Parklands Food Fest and talking food and cooking with other food lovers,” he said.
“I’ll often learn more from these interactions than they’ll learn from my demo.
“Cooking demonstrations need to be fun. It needs to show you something that you didn’t know before that you can put into practice in your own kitchen. It needs to be all about bringing the yummy to your table both quickly and easily.”
Mr Preston said planning is the key to creating healthy meals in a time-poor society.
“Find recipes where the prep is minimal and the oven does the work. Winter braises and tray bakes are a great example of this,” he said.
“Fall in love with vegetables. Steer clear of refined sugar and flours. Cook for yourself so you know what’s in what you are eating. Eat less but eat better. Eating things that are local and in season is better and usually cheaper, too.
Fall in love with vegetables. Steer clear of refined sugar and flours. Cook for yourself so you know what’s in what you are eating. Eating things that are local and in season is better and usually cheaper, too.Matt Preston
“I like to season with both salt and a little acidity like a tiny splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice depending on the dish. Buy a microplane for grating your own Parmesan and for zesting.”
The cooking guru will joined by a host of other industry leaders for Western Sydney Parklands’ flagship event.
The Shahrouk Sisters, winners of Nine’s Family Food Fight, have planned a new dish to be unveiled during their live cooking demonstration in the Homegrown Marquee.
Food lovers will enjoy Houda, Halla, Rouba and Leeann’s energy, personalities and good-natured bickering during their demonstration.
Other confirmed guest include food director at delicious magazine PhoebeWood and this year’s “local heroes”, butchers Joe and MattPapandrea, of Wetherill Park’s Joe Papandrea Quality Meats.
Western Sydney Parklands executive director SuellenFitzgerald said food lovers will be spoilt for choice with a range of street food and timeless favourites.
“We’ll have food from all over the world that is Western Sydney – from Vietnamese and Filipino to Italian, Egyptian and Texan barbecue, to bakers and dessert-makers,” she said.
“There’ll also be an expanded produce market, including a special Urban Farms stall, so people can get a taste of what’s grown, right here, in Western Sydney Parklands.”
Currently, 35 hectares of the parklands is utilised for commercial farming through EasternCreek and HorsleyPark, with a further 25 hectares to be released over the next few years.
The plan is grow the precinct to a total area of about 160 hectares, criss-crossed by roads, cycle and bike paths, and featuring a dedicated farm-gate trail.
“It ensures healthy and sustainable food production in the heart of Sydney,” Environment and Heritage minister GabrielleUpton said of the Urban Farms Precinct.
“When it comes to Parklands Food Fest, ‘homegrown’ is not just a buzzword – it’s a celebration of the rich cultural and culinary diversity that makes its home in western Sydney.”
So what's the one thing Matt Preston think of when people talk food and western Sydney? “You know, I’d like to say something like ‘The greater proximity that the western Sydney has to great producers compared to those inner-city hipster types’ but, if I’m being truthful, it’s probably the Indian food at HarrisPark,” he said, with a wink.
The full Parklands Food Fest program, including live-cooking demonstration times, will be published on the event’s web page in the lead-up to the event.