The Plating Game: Matty McLean

. May 27, 2021
Photography by Josh Griggs.
The Plating Game: Matty McLean

An adventurous eater, keen cook and perennial joker, Breakfast weather presenter and A Current Affair reporter Matty McLean is someone we'd want to have dinner (and maybe a few drinks) with. We caught up with the Queenstown-raised Aucklander to find out what he likes to cook, which 90s icon he likes to sing along to in the kitchen and the one and only food he finds utterly offensive...

You have quite a few food photos on your Instagram with the hashtag #mattymakes. Tell me about that.

Matty: I'm not usually one for New Year's resolutions, but I love cooking and have all these cookbooks that just sit on my shelf. So, at the beginning of last year I set myself a challenge to cook one new meal a week from them. I shared them with my partner, Ryan, who rated the meals (#ryanrates) and gave feedback. We ended up making a bit of an Instagram blog out of it.

Who are some favourite cookbook authors?

Matty: Honestly, Sarah Tuck is huge. If you look at my Instagram so many of the meals I cook are from her cookbook or dish. I just think Sarah’s so wonderful because she talks like a real person. (Ed’s note - we did not bribe Matty to say this, we swear!)

What was the best thing you made as part of #mattymakes?

Matty: The macaroni and cheese from dish,using prosciutto and three cheeses – it was so good. I also made a nice smoked fish pie from Fleur’s Place in Moeraki.

What do you and Ryan cook?

Matty: I do the cooking and I like to experiment. I love any kind of Thai, Vietnamese or Malaysian dish – those are go-tos because the flavours are so beautiful. Or simple meals, like a chicken schnitzel with a salad. There’s a dish chicken cotoletta recipe where you chuck chiptotle tortilla chips in a blender and coat the chicken breast in the crumbs. Honestly? It’s A-mazing.

Where did your love of cooking come from?

Matty: My Grandma, a home economics teacher who made beautiful, easy home-cooked meals. She came from the UK during the war and understood rations, so the things she could make from staple ingredients were incredible. My Mum is also a fantastic cook and she shared that with me. I’m not an amazing cook, but I enjoy the process.

Do you have favourite childhood memories around food?

Matty: We’re a close family and spent a lot of time sitting around the dinner table enjoying each other's company. So a lot of my best food memories are not about specific dishes but of sharing the dishes with people. That said, my dad loves corned beef and Mum used to make it all the time, so I have an affinity with it. One of my favourite cafes – Little Sister in West Auckland – does an incredible version with roasted potatoes called the Smash Hash.

What's your entertaining style?

Matty: I love having people over for dinner and trying new dishes, which is perhaps not the best way of doing things because it can be stressful. But there’s an Annabel Langbein chicken and leek gratin bake that makes you warm inside and tastes delicious. That’s a firm favourite where you do the prep in advance and then relax.

What are some of your favourite places to eat out?

Matty: Ryan and I live in an apartment just off Karangahape Road, so Bestie in St Kevin’s Arcade is our local brunch spot. Also in St Kevin’s, Gemmayze Street is to die for – they have a “trust the chef” menu where you sit back and they bring you so much food. It never fails to impress. We also go to Sri Panang for cheap and cheerful. I love that about Auckland – you can find whatever you're looking for depending on your mood.

If we could fly you anywhere in the world for dinner, where would you go and who would you take?

Matty: Despite being together for four years, Ryan and I have only been to Sydney so we’re desperate to go travelling. New York is my favourite city and there are so many incredible places to eat there. I also loved going through Spain and eating the tapas-style dishes there. I did an exchange in Austria in my last year of high school and the food over there is, ugh, so good. The thing I miss the most is knödel (bread dumplings) with meat and gravy.

Is there anything you don’t eat?

Matty: Bananas. I know it’s just in my head but I can’t stand them. I hate the smell, the taste, the texture… everything about them. Other than that I’ll try anything.

What’s a treat food you can never say no to?

Matty: It’s so simple and not sophisticated, but chips and Kiwi Onion Dip.

What music do you like to listen to while cooking?

Matty: 90s bangers. Chuck on Fantasy by Mariah Carey and I’m happy. When you’re in the kitchen cooking you want to make it as fun an experience as possible.



Recipe by Sarah Tuck
From issue #97

Reading through the effervescent Matty’s interview I immediately thought of so many dishes he will love in this issue but I know Matty relishes a challenge, so decided to create a recipe for him where he will need to make his own pastry, for this classic Pancetta, Leek and Gruyère Tart.

leek and gruyere and pancetta tartINGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil
120 grams pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 small leek, trimmed, sliced
1 egg yolk
3 whole eggs
1 cup cream
100 grams grated Gruyère


11/3 cups plain flour
110 grams butter, chopped
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
1 egg yolk

EQUIPMENT: 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin


Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the pancetta for 5 minutes until getting a little crispy. Add the onion and leek and cook together, stirring, for a further 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

PASTRY: Pulse the flour, butter and parmesan in a food processor until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 2-3 teaspoons water and pulse to combine. Tip out onto the bench and press together into a dough round. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

When the pastry has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured bench into a circle wide enough to line the tin. Press the pastry into the tin and line the base and sides with baking paper and fill with baking beans or raw rice. Cook for 12 minutes, remove the baking paper and weights, and continue cooking for a further 8 minutes while you prepare the rest of the filling.

Whisk the egg yolk with the eggs and cream. Once the pastry has cooked as described above, sprinkle the base with half of the cheese, spread over onion, leek and bacon mixture, top with the remaining cheese and pour over whisked eggs and cream. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and cook a further 30-35 minutes until golden. Rest for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and serve with a small green salad and a good tomato chutney.