At the table with: Emma Dean

Emma Dean is a cook, forager, and author, and the winner of the 2013 series of MasterChef Australia.

Emma’s passion for food began in the paddocks and kitchen of her country home near Bendigo, Victoria. Emma’s homely cooking style is inspired by a combination of her regional upbringing and her enthusiasm for urban foraging, resulting in dishes that mix classic ingredients with the more unusual and adventurous.

Emma’s first cookbook A Homegrown Table is a collection of over 100 delicious recipes that beautifully captures Emma’s hobby-farm origins and her love of local, seasonal produce.

Photo: Kate Berry
Photo: Kate Berry

Who is your inspiration?
Annie Smithers, Maggie Beer, Ben Shewry, Stephanie Alexander, Phillipa Grogan, Miles Irving, Phiippa Sibley, Costa, Shannon Bennet, and my mum and dad, Rosie and Ian.

What’s currently in your pantry?
Currently my pantry is is in boxes as I have completely removed my kitchen and building a new one! BUT, usually I have Murray River Sea Salt, whole black pepper, olive oil, and lemons – this usually gets me to many delicious places. I can’t live without freshly ground coffee and my baking section is always pretty well stocked! I l just love making jam, chutney, spicy kasundi and preserved fruit, so I have jars of that mixed in amongst it too!

What’s in your fridge?
I love having a jar of kimchi on hand, to have with my morning eggs and avo! Cheese: always have to have a hard cheese, and if I can resist eating it immediately, a soft cheese (often from Holy Goat), yoghurt, and different varieties of seasonal fruit as I am a bit of a fruit bat. I have WAY too many condiments!

Best thing to come out of the microwave
My wheat bag.

What did you last eat?
Lamb shank soup – winter is coming!

Where do you like to go for a feed?
I head to Estelle on High Street in Northcote. Or for cheap and cheerful, I love Viet Pearl, also on High Street.

When I’m not cooking, I’m…
Gardening or renovating my house – often with wine.

Butter, margarine, a mix or neither?
BUTTER!! BUTTER, BUTTER, BUTTER!!! And… if I’m being fancy…cultured, organic, and lightly salted!

Tools I can’t live without
Chefs knife, mortar and pestle, KitchenAid, garden shovel, and hand trowel.

Cookbooks I always return to
This is a hard one! I love Annie Smither’s Garden to Table, such an inspiration. Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion really got me started when I was young. I am totally inspired by Ben Shewry’s Origin, and I have been loving the recently released Phillip Grogan’s Phillipa’s Home Baking. But I have a lifetime of reading when it comes to my cookbook collection!

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