5 min read

10 Questions with Matt Preston, former MasterChef judge, writer and foodie.

"I would quite like a really aggressive and very loyal Bengal tiger, flying a Lockheed Martin F45 fighter jet."
10 Questions with Matt Preston, former MasterChef judge, writer and foodie.

ADAM Zwar spoke to one of his favourite people in Australian showbusiness; food writer, ABC Radio Melbourne presenter, and iconic, colourful, cravat-wearing former MasterChef judge Matt Preston.

"Matt Preston is one of the most recognisable faces in Australia, due to his role as a judge on MasterChef, but his story started in England, going to boarding school, then the University of Kent before following his father into journalism," Adam said.

"Matt wrote about television in Britain, before the company workforce sent him out to Australia to write about TV here.

"He then segued into writing about food for The Age, News Corp, and the magazine Inside Melbourne.

"Now, he's written his eighth book, Matt Preston's World of Flavour, where among other things, he's uncovered the genesis of Spaghetti Bolognese. Spoiler, it's not a New Zealand invention, it's...a South Australian invention."

1. When were you most happy?

"The clichéd stuff is obviously child 1, 2, 3, wedding. Genuinely, those are the moments," Matt said.

"There's happiness which is kind of a warm fuzzy glow, then there's elation; a moment when you explode, and that would be, invariably, football-based.

"It's things like... being with a load of Carlton supporters, and it's a really tight game. They think that they've won, and we (Collingwood) wind them in and beat them, and that immense pleasure that comes up...

"In the old days, you'd be standing with a rum and Coke, fourth quarter, down on the boundary fence, surrounded by your Carlton mates, giving it large!"

2. Who would you like to apologise to, and why?

"Undoubtedly to my wife. Always. Always to the woman I love.

"She's a far better person than I am. Invariably, there's probably something that I've inadvertently done. That's normal.

"The apology is, 'I'm sorry. I will try and be more focused and better.' In a relationship, it is our role...to be better than we were the year before."

3. What is your greatest regret?

"I've got three. One, not buying a 1964 bright pink Ford Galaxie convertible from my friend Matthew for £500.

"In about '94...I walked past this hairdresser and there was a huge 60 [by] 40 painting... done by Robert Campbell Jr for sale in the window...and I didn't go back. I wish I bought that.

"The third one goes back to soccer. Chelsea were in the Champions League final. It was at Bayern Munich, against Bayern. Someone offered me a ticket, someone else offered me a seat on the bus to drive over there.

"I was committed to going and doing a cooking demo. I went back to the Noosa Food and Wine Festival. It was the right thing to do, but I could have worn the hatred for three days...to be there when we won."

4. What do you still need to do to live a satisfactory life?

"It goes back to...healthy, happy kids, progressing on their own career trajectory. I think that's a real legacy.

"On the shallow side, if more people learn how to make a spanakopita in a toastie machine, then my job on this planet is done."

5. Who is the person that most influenced you, and how?

"In terms of big influences, a wonderful guy called Robert Castellani. He was a chef at a restaurant called Donovans," Matt said.

"He said, it's never about the food on the table, it's about the eyes across the table.

"That's absolutely central. Enjoy the food, but it's really about the people you're with."

6. When was the last time you cried, and why?

"I got really upset with the death of Michael Gudinski. I spontaneously cried a couple of times over Michael's passing.

"I love Michael, he was great fun. He wasn't like a best mate, but he was very close to a friend of mine who couldn't get back for the funeral, so I had a bit of a tear then.

"That was also combined by thinking about my mother who was diagnosed with myeloma about a year ago.

"You've got an 88-year-old relative on the other side of the world you can't get to see... That's been a pretty horrible situation."

7. What is your current state of mind?

"At the time you sent me the questions, maybe a week ago, it was kind of heightened mania; We're out and about...the book's coming out... publicity... the borders are open... I can now go and see my mum.

"A week later, I'm just happy. I'm happy we're out. I've had a lovely [time] doing publicity.

"That ability to actually catch up and see, in a very short period of time, people you know, love and like, has been an amazing thing to do.

"After 50 days of lockdown... I've gone from manic into a thankful, beatific state."

8. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

"Still being married would be one, but that's probably my wife's achievement more than mine," he laughed.

"Having three healthy, happy, entertaining, excellent children.

"I'm pretty proud of the spanakopita jaffle... Some of those instant mayonnaises... I'm pretty happy that I was able to discover a recipe for spaghetti Bolognese that's four years older than anything else anyone else has found before...in an Adelaide newspaper."

9. Who would you like on your side in a battle, and why?

"There's two answers there. On one, it's Gary [Mehigan]. He's fiercely loyal, and he's also a bit scary.

"The other one... I would quite like a really aggressive and very loyal Bengal tiger, flying a Lockheed Martin F45 fighter jet.

"If the tiger has to bail out and come down in the parachute, he's going to be able to deal with most stuff on the ground, and the fighter jet, that's advanced technology.

"Gary's probably more scary."

10. What would you like your last words to be?

"Ooh, that was delicious... I love you."

Matt Preston's World of Flavour; the recipes, myths and surprising stories behind the world’s best-loved food, is out now.


Find Adam Zwar on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Adam's book Twelve Summers: Being a life-long fan of Australian cricket is harder than it looks, is out now.


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