Stephen Quartermain – Kitchen Spy

Network Ten newsreader Stephen Quartermain in his kitchen. Photo: Wayne Taylor

He’s been Eyewitness News anchorman for the past three years but Stephen Quartermain has been with the Ten Network for more than 30 – remarkable given his industry’s reputation for long-term job security. “I just find cooking a really good distraction,” says Quartermain, 53, who lists food, wine and sport as his principal escapes from the often-grim world of current affairs. Quartermain inherited his passion for food from his parents, who were terrific entertainers and spent time in notable culinary centres, including New York. He cooks and lives at home in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne with his wife Paige and children Jack and Scarlett.

The staples 

My pantry

The kids eat Vegemite every day but I love to collect preserves and spreads from the local farmers market, where we shop every two weeks or so. At the moment I’ve got Jammad relish (the mango chutney is great too), Peter Pams zucchini pickles and Josie’s Strawberry Jam (from Chirnside Park). I have chilli on pretty much anything so I have plenty of sauces, like this Diemen’s Original Hot Sauce and Byron Bay Company green jalapeno. I use Australian olive oil for everything but I cook with Cobram Estate extra virgin and finish with something fancier, perhaps Robinvale Estate Murray Gold.

My fridge

The fridge always has organic vegies – today it’s zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli, which I’ve been roasting in olive oil a lot recently. You’ll always find some farmers’ market tomato sauce, free-range Green Eggs and B.-d.Farm organic yoghurt for muesli and smoothies. A chef friend of mine turned me on to Lurpak spreadable butter, although I usually prefer to buy from local producers. And I have a separate meat freezer in the garage stocked with Little Creek Cattle Company lamb, pork and beef and Milawa chicken.

Secret vice

Anything that involves chocolate – nougat, panforte but I’m liking the chilli peanuts from Cocoa Rhapsody. I’m a notorious sweet tooth. I’ll eat chocolate twice a day, for lunch and dinner.

Last night’s dinner 

Rigatoni bolognese. I use pork, veal or beef mince, onion, carrot, anchovies, Worcester sauce, tomato sauce, a bit of sugar, even some capers and cook it for three hours in the morning. I let it sit there all day.

I’m drinking

I love champagne and we drink a lot of pinot noir. For example, Amisfield BKV Reserve from Central Otago in New Zealand is just a luscious wine and I have a real soft spot for Curly Flat. I’m mates with the Four Pillars Gin boys and in terms of beer I like local craft beer, perhaps something from the Hawthorn Brewing Company; an Italian friend of mine recommended a new beer to me recently: G.Menabrea e Figli. He described it as the king of Italian beers and I won’t argue.

My toolkit

I have a few Microplanes for cheese, chocolate and zesting, there are my trusty Global knives and a friend of mine, chef Ian Curley, gave me this fancy Code 38 bottle opener for my 50th birthday. My coffee machine is a Philips Saeco, which does the job OK. I don’t go in for too many other gadgets, though.

My inspiration 

Cooking shows are great (Paige and I have watched a lot of Keith Floyd and Rick Stein). Otherwise, my late mum Sheila gave me The Australian Women’s Weekly Basic Cookbook when I left home. When she died I inherited her personal cookbooks, which have recipes I’ll always remember, like her tiramisu. She was a great inspiration in the kitchen.

Favourite 

I got this Riedel​ wine decanter for my 50th and whenever it comes out I know we’re going to be having a special wine.
Most unforgettable meal

A little more than 10 years ago Paige and I were on Turtle Island in Fiji and we had dinner by candlelight on a floating pontoon. The waiters came out in a little boat and served us lobsters and prawns. When we were finished we had a little walkie-talkie and they came and took us home. That was pretty cool.

Recipe stalwart

I’m famous for my goose-fat potatoes. I parboil the potatoes, rough them up, and then let them cool down and dry out a little bit. Then I coat them in olive oil, rosemary, salt and heaps of (Rougie Graisse D’Oie) goose fat. I cook them at about 210C for 20 minutes, then 190C for 40 minutes.

Discovery

Sweet Hickory Barbecue sauce. I’ve been experimenting with a few American slow roasts recently and it’s hard to find good-quality, smoky sauces.

See more pictures and read the story at goodfood.com.au, here.