In Australia, New Zealander Jason Roberts hosted Channel Nine’s Fresh Cooking. He’s now known to Americans as a special correspondent of The Chew, alongside regulars like Mario Batali!
What is the common fare of New Zealand? Do people there eat a lot of lamb and rich meats and healthy vegetables?
New Zealand is really a big melting pot of cultures and so is our food. I guess the New Zealand diet is very European, very similar to Australia with the ability to grow and produce a lot of sub-tropical ingredients! You are most likely to find a melting pot of Asian, Indian and Euro style fare.
A staple meat for us would be lamb, seeing as sheep out number men 7 to 1. Lamb for us is a lot more affordable therefore most likely to appear on our dinner table weekly.
Is any of the food similar to Irish cooking?
We have elements of Irish food but I think you will be quite surprised our food is very eclectic. We go above meat and mash with the ability to grow so many great fruits and vegetables.
I once saw an Aussie cooking show where they made ostrich, personally selecting the ostrich off a farm on TV. Have you ever worked with ostrich meat or eggs?
I have worked with ostrich meat on several occasions, but purely in the process of charcuterie, sausages, and terrines! It’s very lean and high in protein. I don’t mind it, but certainly not a staple in my kitchen.
How can we really enjoy a visit to Australia, where you were also a popular TV chef before you came to the USA?
To enjoy Australia, you do really need to take a good 3- 4 weeks out of your life to do so! Australia is just as big as America with a much smaller population and a big desert smack bang in the middle of it! You need to hit the main cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and if time permits a trip to Perth. The Great Barrier Reef is a must for fishing, swimming and snorkeling. We have great little pockets of quite diverse cultures and restaurant life… a walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge is a must as well as a surf lesson at the famous Bondi Beach.
I have cooked professionally for 23 years, 14 of which have been in Australia. My recognition as a chef/head chef was at the iconic Sydney restaurant called “Bistro Moncur.” While there I maintained a two-hat accolade with my mentor Damian Pignolet! I landed my first TV gig in Australia when Jamie Oliver hit the scene in 2000. I picked up a show called “Fresh Cooking with the Australian Woman’s Weekly” on channel 9. I was on this daily show for 4 years
What special reporting are you doing for The Chew as a correspondent?
I finished with The Chew at the end of last year. In the 2 years I was with the show, I was the correspondent traveling the country doing their outside stories, everything from America’s largest pumpkin to being a servant as a Valentines Day gift. It was a fun time had by all!
After you’re here in your career and feel like you know everything, you’re probably still learning. Everyone does! What have you learned about cooking preparation or ingredients from watching and working on The Chew?
Very funny! It takes a very long time to produce 3 minutes of taped television! Outside of that, Americans love their comfort food! I have learned that with my interest for a much healthier positive nation that moderation is key and eating a wide variety of colors from mother natures’ garden is more important than you can imagine!
When shooting wraps, do you always think about food and work? What do you do for fun?
After any taping I usually look for the closest seat or bed to take a nap in, shooting over a long period of time can really zap you! After that it’s time on the road, either cycling or running, I like to find my feet and create. My best work is always during a 50- 100-mile bike ride! I’m not a big drinker, nor do I like late nights…my ideal get together is in the backyard with a few friends, a little music and a smoldering BBQ.