Fancy some manky oysters? While being a chef might seem like a glamorous job to some, Colin Fassnidge has taken one for the team with his new show, Kitchen Nightmares Australia.
As you can guess, the eateries Fassnidge visits in the show are not exactly in the best shape, and yet he’s signed on to try and right the wrongs to help them out. Each episode is an absolute rollercoaster ride.
“It’s not nice to have to tell people how bad they are. Believe it or not, it’s not that nice,” Fassnidge told Lifehacker Australia.
“At the start of it they’re all ‘we love you’, ‘that’s the guy off the TV, I like that guy,’ and then they’re like ‘we hate you, get out of our restaurant,’ and then by the end they like you because you’ve done something good.”
Brace yourself, dear reader, for some pretty confronting images.
“When you eat frozen oysters that have been defrosted in a sink with dirty water, it’s like that little slap in the face,” Fassnidge warned.
“I’ve been cooking for a long time, and I do everything the right way, and I hang out with people who do everything the right way, so when you go and see it being done dodgy, you’re like ‘wow, this still exists’, just because you forget how bad things can get, which is a bit shocking really.
“People won’t be rushing out to go out to dinner that night, that’s all I’m saying.”
But before filming Kitchen Nightmares Australia, Fassnidge insisted that the show didn’t come across as “nasty”.
“I reckon I could run for Prime Minister after this show, they’ll love me,” he joked.
How to stress less in the kitchen
If you truly want to enjoy cooking, without the stress, Fassnidge recommends planning ahead — a rule that equally applies to cafe and restaurant owners.
“If you go into a cafe and they’ve got 50 things on the menu and there’s no one in there, that means those 50 things sit in that fridge,” he said. “You can work the rest out.
“Normal people just don’t plan ahead and they get a bit blustered and then the food doesn’t come out too well. But if you plan your meal ahead, and you can cook stuff ahead of time, you’ll get a much better product.”
Fassnidge has long been an advocate of nose-to-tail cooking and reducing food waste, and regularly partners with charity OzHarvest to show what can be made with food that was otherwise headed for the bin.
He has some simple tips for home cooks to make cooking fun, not stressful.
“Number one, you don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, because you’ll come out with a whole heap of stuff you didn’t want — we’ve all done that mistake,” he advised.
“Number two is, if I buy a lamb shoulder or a lamb leg, I would say ‘right, today I’m going to have lamb leg and then whatever lamb I’ve got left, tomorrow I’ll have lamb curry’. Always have a second use out of it.
“Or if you’ve got loads of vegetables that are sitting in your fridge, and you get those bendy carrots — everyone’s got that vege at the bottom of the fridge — make a soup out of it at the end of the week. Put some miso in it, or something like that. You can get two uses out of everything.”
Colin Fassnidge’s top potato tips
Did you think we would let Colin Fassnidge go without getting his advice on how to cook the perfect potatoes? Of course not! So here it is:
“Baked potatoes, even if you wash them, roll them in salt, you get a better baked potato,” he said.
“If you make mash, use a nice desiree potato. You boil them, then you pour the water off and the salt, then you put them back on the stove and you let them steam dry for a bit, and then you add hot milk and soft butter — you don’t add cold milk — and then you mix it up and you get perfect mash potato.”
And don’t forget to season your mashed potato with salt and white pepper — though Fassnidge warns white pepper has more of a kick than the usual black pepper, so be careful.
Kitchen Nightmares Australia starts 7.30pm on Wednesday, 12 October, on Channel 7 and 7plus.
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