Self-taught cook Marty Shanahan joined Dish earlier this year as our fortnightly 'Served Up' recipe columnist. Taking inspiration from the reams of cookbooks that surround him in his kitchen, his signature style is rustic, simple and hearty. Online, he's known as the Backyard Cook, and shares recipes from his outdoor wood-fired oven on his facebook page. We checked out his Grey Lynn backyard, and asked him about his food inspirations and memories...
How did the Backyard cook come about?
I’ve always been a passionate eater and come from a big family where huge emphasis was put on family meal times. My love of food has always been there but has now developed into a full-blown passion for cooking, creating and sharing. I have no formal training, but learned the basics from my mum and Czech grandmother, who I still cook with today. I’ve got to this point by pretty much getting in the kitchen and trying everything. I collect books, love Food TV and take inspiration from far and wide.
What’s your earliest cooking memory?
Making cakes at home with mum. I was also always intrigued to spend time with my Czech grandma as she would cook traditional Czech, Indian and Malaysian food because of all the different places my grandparents lived before they moved to NZ. These cuisines were new and different and so spending time with her was always and still is very special.
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
A Big tub of Miso paste, because miso paste and meat are best friends, especially when the barbecue is concerned; a huge piece of horseradish root which I use to make fresh horseradish sauce and grate into various meals; the undisputed king of cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano; venison mince, for some burgers I’m working on; goat mince because I’m curious; a big aged rib-eye on bone in case of emergency and a huge stash of freshly picked curly kale from my vege patch.
If you had to only eat the cuisine of one country, which would you choose?
Italian. I know it sounds cliché but I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to Italy, I’ve seen the love and passion that gets poured into the land, the produce and the cuisine, and for me that’s what its all about. Live to eat, not eat to live is my motto.
What's the best dish you've eaten so far this year?
The Ox tongue at Baduzzi.
What are your top three places to eat and drink in New Zealand?
1. My Place
2. Masu restaurant
3. Wherever family and friends are.
Which recipe are you proudest of?
At present I’d have to say my Butternut Squash, Ham Hock and Camembert Tart. Mainly because I fell asleep one night thinking about it, dreamt about it, then set about making it, so I guess dreams do come true!
Who or what are your biggest food influences?
Wow there are so many. I’d have to say the biggest influencers have been Tyler Florence, Mario Batali, Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver, Al Brown & Francis Mallmann. They are all passionate characters and inspiring in their own way, but if I had to pick one it would be Raymond Blanc, the happy little Frenchman. Mainly because he taught himself to cook and is now one of the most celebrated Michelin starred chefs in the UK.