Australian TV chef and restaurateur Bill Granger is best known for his TV appearances and best-selling recipe books. With five restaurants across Sydney and Tokyo, and plans to open a sixth in the UK, Bill's no stranger to putting food on the table. His TV shows have taken him on far-flung culinary tours of Australia, with Bill getting to really know his produce. He recently relocated to the UK with his family, swapping the Aussie sunshine for colder culinary climes.
When you filmed Bill's Holiday you explored Australia. Did you get to go everywhere that you wanted to?
Oh gosh no! Australia's so big! That was the extraordinary thing, when we started thinking about it, I thought 'Where do I want to go?' Even though I'm Australian, it's such a huge, vast country!
I was born in Melbourne, moved to Sydney and spent time in a couple of holiday places, but I'd never been anywhere further. Because it's so big, you just can't get around it. I went to some of the most remote places I could possibly think of.
Trout, spinach, pinenuts and raisins
What were the most unusual Australian dishes you came across?
In Darwin, because of its close proximity to Asia, they're developing a cuisine over there that's quite heavily Asian-influenced. It works and it really makes sense of the fact that Australia is so connected to Asia. The food in Darwin feels like it actually belongs in the place - it's not just a fashionable restaurant thing. It actually reflects the day-to-day life of everyone there.
Did you fall in love with any particular produce on your Aussie travels?
Salt bush lamb - it's absolutely extraordinary. On the farm I visited, the lamb only grazed on this salt marsh and the salt bush that grows there and it tasted delicious. It's so tender and just has a very delicate sweet flavour.
It doesn't have that heavy, strong flavour lamb normally has - it's a lot gentler. I also didn't realise samphire grew wild in Australia. It's become so fashionable now, but it was just growing on the side of the road next to the salt bush, near the coast.
What effect has filming your recent TV shows had on your attitude towards food?
Fish parcels with lemon potatoes
I have a new appreciation of things. I think when you work with food all the time, you can take it for granted. I think it's good to go and see it growing and appreciate it.
It's like catching fish and really appreciating the fish, seeing it in its natural state. You see it as a more precious thing rather than in a tray at the supermarket, or even on a slab at the butchers. Meat especially, I see as being a lot more precious.
Has it influenced the way you source food for your restaurants now?
Yes, absolutely. Good food always used to come from the cities. There were always a few smart restaurants in town that led the way with food. I think that's been totally flipped on the head now, and all of us in the city respond to this beautiful produce that's being grown.