In terms of cooking for other people, I think chefs only really care when they cook for other chefs. We judge each other. You want to look good in front of your own peers.
The one who made me most nervous was the Queen of England. I was invited to Buckingham Palace. I was a little bit lost for words when I finally got to meet her.
I didn't cook for her; I was invited to morning tea.
I started cooking when I was a little kid. I love to eat. I've always been a greedy little monster who can't get enough food. Learning how to cook was sort of an extension of always wanting to eat. My best mate's dad was a chef. He sort of lived this rock star lifestyle: He'd come in late from work and he had long hair and tattoos and he didn't conform to my dad's social circle where they all wore suits.
[My dad] tried to talk me out of it. He failed, thank G-d.
If you ate all the time, were you a chubby kid?
A little bit. I think I've come and gone a little bit with my weight. I've always been active. I've always been a little sporty and done exercise. It's a total balance. As long as you're exercising as much as you're eating, you're okay.
What other influences, culinarily speaking, got you to where you are today?
Marco Pierre White
, the chef I worked for in the U.K., he won three Michelin stars, which was the highest you could win in the kitchen. He really molded my food. It was one of my ambitions to work for the guy and I got to, which was great. And then I guess next is probably the farmers out there who put all the love and care into producing great quality ingredients. My philosophy is, if you get your hands on good, quality ingredients, you don't have to do too much to it. Let those ingredients speak for themselves. And I think quite often the farmers, growers, butchers, fishermen we don't give any credit to are the heroes of the food industry in my eyes.
Was being a TV chef part of your plan?
No. Not at all. I was working in London for Marco Pierre White in one of his restaurants as the head chef and we were doing great things in the restaurant world, winning a few awards and such. Then somebody contacted me wanting to publish a book called London's Finest Chefs and said they were proposing that I be in the book. That was unbelievable. I was 25 years old. I, of course, agreed to that. Then I got a call from an agent, did a little bit of morning television work, and my whole world started to turn around and change. But I'm not complaining--I'm enjoying it.
Do you miss working in a restaurant kitchen?
Yeah, a little bit. When you're working in a restaurant, you learn the art of perfection. You do the same thing day after day, you refine it, and become very good at those jobs.
Any types of cuisine you are curious about but haven't attempted?
I haven't had a lot to do with different African cuisines and I'd like to experience them a little bit more. Korean is a food I haven't had a lot to do with. Cambodian food I want to learn a little bit more about.
How would you describe your food in five words?
Simple, delicious, natural, seasonal, and relaxed.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Exactly the same five words.
I'm pretty chill. I like to go for a surf, send my time on the beach. I'm pretty natural. Care for the environment. Don't get too caught up in what life brings my way.
If you could have one last meal, what would it be?
My grandma's roast leg of lamb.
What's always in your refrigerator at home?
I've always got some cold beer, beautiful cheese, delightful fruits and vegetables from the farmer's market. I develop a bunch of different recipes in the house so it really just depends.
Ever come to Miami?
Look, it's one of my favorite cities in the States. When I first went there I absolutely fell in love with the place. It's got this incredible climate, amazing atmosphere, the food's lots of fun. I always stay at the Delano
. The attitude you guys have got is just fantastic. I love it, I love it, I love it! I was actually looking at a restaurant out there for quite a while that didn't quite come to fruition. I think I was just so keen on the site not because the restaurant was perfect but just because I wanted to be in Miami.
When was that?
Just a year ago. I come out for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. I'll probably be out there this year, or for the next one coming up, rather.
Any local chefs you talk to about the dining scene in Miami?
. Love his food. He's showed me around quite a bit. Miami's got great food.
What ingredient or dish is on too many menus?
Chicken. We eat too much chicken. It's fine, there's nothing wrong with chicken... I'm standing here making chicken soup! But it doesn't have to be on every single menu in two or three different forms. We need to get adventurous. There's a bunch of different birds we can eat: guinea fowl and pigeon and squabs and turkey. We don't have to be so basic with the way we approach menus.
Do you think pigeon would be popular in New York?
Especially in Times Square.
What city, in your opinion, has the best dining scene?
Oooh, that's a tricky one. New York's fabulous. Miami's got an amazing scene. You've got the mixture of the attitude of going out and having fun as well as great food. Seattle's got an incredible seafood. Sushi's great if you're in L.A... It all depends a little on your mood, I think.
Speaking of my hometown, why didn't you pick up any of us hot Miami chicks on Take Home Chef?
[Laughs.] They never let me shoot there! I think they knew that if I ever got there I'd never want to go home.