INTERVIEW: Will and Steve

Winners of My Kitchen Rules 2015, Will Stewart and Steve Flood have proven themselves amongst the culinary elite. Also known as The Gourmet Pommies, Will and Steve share a food philosophy of creating simple, sharable dishes using local and sustainably sourced ingredients. Their first cookbook entitled Will and Steve | Home Cook, Aspiring Chef will be released in September. Recently we caught up with the boys to talk everything from food presentation to what we can expect from their much anticipated cookbook.

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How did your partnership with GT Homewares come about?

Steve: Long before I knew the real Glenn Tebble, I knew the name and the products. When I saw them in a restaurant, I would immediately recognise them and gush over their simple beauty. As my passion for food developed into a day job I decided it was about time I invested in some good plates that would showcase my dishes perfectly, and Glenn’s tableware does exactly that.

What it is about Glenn’s plates that suit your style of cooking?

Will: I feel that Glenn’s plates know their role. They are the supporting act for the food. The beautiful organic shapes and subtle colours allow the food that is presented on them to shine. The plates are not for show. They are not a distraction and there are no gimmicks. What you have with GT Homewares is quality and we can vouch for that as we cooked our way around the country with a set of plates and there wasn’t one single breakage.

How important is food presentation when creating a recipe or dish?

Steve: There is a huge focus these days on food photography. Whether it be in a studio shooting a cook book or a self proclaimed foodie taking shots on an iPhone for social media, there is one thing that both situations have in common – beautifully presented food. Obviously everyone’s visual preferences are different but you can’t beat a plate of food that not only tastes delicious but it arrives in front of you and looks so good you fall in love with every little detail. I think presentation standard are at an all time high and even chefs who present home style cooking are upping their game in their own rustic way. I think the style, shade and shape of plate you use makes a huge difference to achieving the look atmosphere you were trying to achieve.

Since winning MKR last year, what has been the most exciting opportunity that you have been given?

Will: We are very thankful to Channel 7 and all of the opportunities that have come from winning the show, however a lot of our success has been through our own hard work, dedication and commitment to our business. We’ve shown a lot of fight and thrown ourselves into so really daunting situation to gain a foothold in the food industry which we now have.

Steve: I think the most amazing opportunity that has presented itself so far was the book deal we managed to get across the line with our publisher, Harlequin. What we have managed to achieve with their help is just incredible and we are very proud of our book titled ‘Will and Steve | Home Cook, Aspiring Chef’. It wasn’t an easy process, a terrifying amount of work went into it and it’s easily the hardest thing we’ve done in our lives but what we’ve come up with is something truly special and we hope everyone who buys it enjoys reading and cooking from it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

What can we expect to see in your upcoming cookbook?

Steve: ‘Will and Steve | Home Cook, Aspiring Chef’ has a really nice balance of what Will and I have to offer. Will is very much a home style cook, while I’m leaning more towards having aspiring chef attitude in terms of food and the techniques I use. There is a section in the book where Will showcases a one pot slow cooked kind of dish and I take all of the same ingredients to create a slightly more ‘chefy’ dish. We’ve also got masterclasses throughout the book, with more complicated recipes being broken down to make the dish easier for the reader to replicate.

Will: There is also a lot of personality through the book, for example, we have a Q&A on almost every page. I had a lot of questions whilst I was learning and developing as a cook, and we felt those questions would would really helpful to the reader who might be at the same stage that I was at a few years ago.

Has your style of cooking changed at all since finishing the show?

Steve: Absolutely, my cooking style develops on a daily basis. It comes down to the trends in the industry and people who inspire me. It’s very much a case of trying to expose myself to as many opportunities or experiences possible to learn more. I actually think that to not to change or evolve would be a really bad thing. You can become stagnant and start to settle for what you’ve achieved,, and I think that’s when the industry would leave you behind.

Do you have a particular process you take when creating new recipes?

Steve: There isn’t really a set process. It’s more a case of working with what’s in season and then you can adapt techniques to use those ingredients in multiple ways. It starts with inspiration and for me I look to cook books new and old for that. I don’t tend to look at the recipes or the words, I only look at the visuals. I might see how the produce in the picture has been prepared but if I don’t read the recipe I’ll have no idea of the specifics. For me that’s the excitement of going away to replicate the process and make it my own. So that’s often a way of creating the beginning of recipes. Taking visual inspiration from others and combining it with seasonal produce and my favourite techniques to create something unique.

If you had to describe yourselves in one dish, what would it be?

Will: I think we’d collectively have to be a Tiramisu! Steve would be the coffee soaked sponge, the serious part of desert!

Steve: I guess that makes you the humble cream, the sweetness that takes the edge off my serious side and when the two are put together you have the perfect combo.

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