Chef, restaurateur and media personality Matt Moran is one of the country’s most recognisable faces in food. Sydney-based Moran was raised on a dairy farm, and left school at 15 to pursue a career in cooking. He’s behind some of Sydney’s most beloved dining institutions including Aria, Chiswick, North Bondi Fish and a handful of restaurants in Brisbane and Canberra.

On television he’s appeared as a host and a judge on Masterchef, The Great Australian Bake Off, and Paddock to Plate.

With a huge public profile and three decades of experience, the chef is making his way to Adelaide for Tasting Australia 2024. Before his return to Adelaide, Moran sat down with Broadsheet to chat all things South Australian produce, the legends of the SA dining scene and what we can expect from his two Tasting Australia events.

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What’s your relationship with South Australia?
I’ve been to South Australia many, many times. I spent four weeks there when I was doing Paddock to Plate. Maggie Beer, one of my best friends, lives there. Queen of South Australia, isn’t she? South Australia to me is – like most states in Australia – very lucky with its produce. It’s got incredible seafood, incredible agriculture. I remember when I did Paddock to Plate I pretty much covered most of the state – from bluefin tuna down in Port Lincoln [to] the agriculture down on the Limestone Coast, so I’m quite familiar with South Australia.

And I’m really looking forward to partnering with Jake Kellie, who is a bit of a legend in South Australia, but also he trained under me at Aria. So it’s like the prodigal son returns, I suppose. Except I’m going to him – so what does that say about me?

And Isobel [Whelan-Little] also. I met Isobel years ago in London and she’s a very, very talented chef. And I’m looking forward to doing dinner at [the High Steaks event as part of Tasting Australia’s Dining Galleries] and showcasing some of the best meats that South Australia has to offer.

What’s it like that you can travel the country and see all these chefs that trained with you at Aria, who have their own restaurants now?
It makes me very, very proud. You know, I’ve always had great relationships with the chefs that have left and gone on to do amazing things, and to me that’s one of the highlights of my career. Obviously back in those days I was in the kitchen all the time and I was probably pretty hard on them, and [it’s good to see] that they’re still talking to me at least – but also they have that respect and it’s really nice.

How would you compare and contrast the SA and NSW food scenes?
You know, the food scene has always been very strong in Adelaide, and some of the best chefs in the country have come from Adelaide. Phillip Searle, who did Riley’s, Possums and Oasis Seros, and Chrissy Mansfield, they [both] came from Adelaide. It’s always had a great food scene and they’ve promoted very well too. And even when Jock [Zonfrillo] was there back in the day – it’s very sad to talk about that. It’s always had a very buoyant and vibrant food scene. Always. It’s always been the case that some of the top restaurants in the country have come out of Adelaide. I’m really excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve been – since 2018 probably. It’s been too long!

And do you have any favourite wine producers from down there?
So many of them, but you know, I know the Henschke family pretty well. I cooked out there when I did Paddock to Plate. I was very lucky to have a look around the beautiful old vineyards – I think they are over 100 years old now. And I’ve got a bit of a collection in my own personal cellar. But yeah, as everyone knows all the big reds come from South Australia. Basket Press is another of my personal favourites.

Can you tell us a bit more about this gala dinner you’re doing?
It’s the Waites University Institute and it’s 100 years old. So there are 500 people and we’re just going to be showcasing the best of South Australia. Nomad Farm chickens and Smelly Cheese Company is helping out. So it’ll be all great seafood and some agriculture – whether it’s some beef and some Wagyu – and it’s all cocktail food. I’m looking forward to working with Paul Baker on that, who also used to work with me at Aria.

@chefmattmoran
@tastingaustralia

Matt Moran is travelling to Adelaide for two events as part of [Tasting Australia]. Dining Galleries – High Steaks on May 3, 2024 and the Waite 100 Gala on May 4, 2024.