How many cookbooks is too many? It’s a question many home cooks ask themselves as they stare at the rainbow of book spines towering over them with tantalising offers of whole foods, real foods, even naked ones.
These days, cookbooks are flying at us from all directions. But are they offering budding chefs the tools they need to up their ante in the kitchen, or just a bunch of pretty pages to lust after from afar?
For his cookbook and new Food Network series, Bondi Harvest (Mondays, 7:30pm from 8 January), Guy Turland is bringing it back to basics.
“Our goal is to strip back recipes and make them unintimidating and approachable,” Turland tells Food Network. “I think it’s the first step to getting people into the kitchen and falling in love with food.”
The series was filmed in Turland’s hometown, which so happens to be one of the most famous places in the world. It’s here, with waves breaking on the iconic Bondi Beach behind him - and across a handful of other sun-kissed locales - that the chef lets viewers in on some of his secret cooking arsenal via laidback, seasonal recipes that are, in fairness, entirely achievable.
“We describe our food as elevated simplicity: simple ingredients and simple recipes that are approachable and attainable,” Turland promises. “All of our food and our ethos is around sustainability and balance – it’s all about empowering people to make food decisions based on who they are and what their lifestyle is, but also not taking it too seriously and having fun.”
For Turland, mentors have come and gone throughout his career, but he has one to thank in particular. “My Nan would create the most amazing sponge cakes for every single cousin, aunty – even girlfriends. It would be so large, three levels, and so light and fluffy and it would follow a whole banquet. I was always so amazed that she could cook something so delicious for 25 people by herself.”
Starting out in the kitchen washing dishes, he relished any opportunity to help chefs toast garlic bread, chop veggies or pop pot pies in the ovens. After wrapping up his apprenticeship, he landed his first job working for Peter Doyle at Sydney’s hatted est.
“Peter has such a beautiful way of treating food and respecting ingredients and dealing with staff. He was really instrumental in the way I look at food and work with other chefs.”
It’s not the first time that surfing and food cross over in a cooking show, but there’s a good reason for that, Turland believes. “It’s a place where I can really unwind and pull apart the thoughts in my head – I think that brings inspiration and clarity. I think also, being in the ocean, the flow of that water – it’s just such a relaxing place that creativity and inspiration flourish from.”
It’s been nearly five years since the Bondi Harvest brand was first launched both locally and then globally, with Turland following in the footsteps of other Aussie chefs like Curtis Stone and tackling the LA market. Santa Monica is home to Bondi Harvest Café, which locals have embraced with open arms.
“It’s been a stretch – there’s only one of me, but it was also a goal and a dream that I had that was so enjoyable to watch unfold and see the response [to it]. People love the food that we’re offering, and they love the laidback Aussie vibe.”
"Being in the ocean, the flow of that water – it’s just such a relaxing place that creativity and inspiration flourish from.”
Surfing, food, Sydney, LA – it all begs the question: do Turland and Stone ever hang out and grab beers together?
“I’ll be honest, I’d love to be friends with Curtis Stone, but I think he’s a little busy,” he laughs. “Maybe one day we can grab a coffee together… or maybe a beer!”
Bondi Harvest double episodes air 7.30pm Mondays from January 8 on Food Network, Channel 33.