Aaron Harvie is an all star in every sense of the word. You know him from MasterChef Australia 2010 and the recent All Stars series and he is all star in every sense of the word. He’s one of the nicest, most affable people I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with this for this site… and he can cook!! But too bad, girls.. he is taken. You know when you come away thinking that you’ve ‘met’ someone special, it’s gonna be a great blog post! Firstly, thank you so much to my friend Alison Fourie of AMF Typing for recommending me to interview Aaron. You made a great call! With Aaron’s interest in pop culture, his support of charities including The Salvation Army, and his inspirational use of cooking as therapy, thus teaching people a way to cope with life’s struggles, he’s the perfect interviewee for Pop Speaking and I am touched and humbled by his humility. Thank you Aaron for sharing and for being you.
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like being the one asked questions, specially when you have someone who doesn’t really know much about your subject of expertise. I really know NOTHING about cooking, though I love watching the creativity and ingenuity of those who do, and Aaron managed my questions with flair and brilliance!
My first off the mark question:
How did you become a chef? Did you study and if so where, and who or what (if anyone) inspired you to cook?
Well first of all, I am not a Chef, just a passionate home cook! The rules of MasterChef state that you cannot be a trained Chef or have held a position in a kitchen, working the line cooking for 10 years prior to entering. I have always been a keen student of food; my father was an inspiration to me growing up, as he is one of the best cooks I know.
You got to the final seven in Masterchef Australia 2010 and were eliminated after a fish and chips challenge. I think the fact that it’s sometimes the simple things that undo us is indicative of how stressful it must have been in that kitchen!!
I did get eliminated on a Fish and Chips challenge, but it was the chips not the fish that was my undoing…. They were pretty soggy!!!
Describe some of the stresses, triumphs, personal good moments of that series of Masterchef.
Wow, that was a long time ago… I look back and see the entire experience as a triumph. There were so many people who tried out and so many people who participated in the show, so to make it as far as I did was for me an achievement… and truly something I never expected to happen. To me, the people I was in the competition with were amazing and all of them had a profound effect on me.
As a show, I think it was incredible, MasterChef Season 2 was a very high rating show and I think all of us felt like we were apart of something very special.
What have you taken from the experience, and how have you applied it in day to day life?
The show changes you for the better, as a cook and as a person. And no matter if you have had the opportunity to make a career out of the show or not, the experience is one of the most incredible things you will ever go through.
Do you have any advice for others looking to enter Masterchef?
Totally… cook from the heart and be yourself… the show is about growing as a person and a cook and you can’t do that if you are pretending to be something you’re not.
What was it like to come out of Masterchef and carry on with normal life? How did life change after MC and what doors did it open for you?
Nothing can ever quite prepare you for coming out of 8 months of isolation and into the public eye with a show as big as MasterChef… everything is upside down, I felt blessed that I had a wonderful support network behind me to bring me down to earth!
Working with and competing against all the other cooks must have been quite something as well. Was there any one particular person who you found inspirational?
One of the most unique and wonderful things about the MasterChef experience is that you live with the people you are competing against for a long period of time. So it becomes more than a competition, the people become like family. And so like a family you are influenced and guided by the people around you.
You recently participated in MasterChef Australia All-Stars. What was it like to return to the MasterChef kitchen in Sydney?
It was amazing… after all that time to be chosen to return and compete was a privilege.
Did you know at the time that it would be the last series made there and did that impact on you?
I think the experience was cathartic for everyone. We all had our lives changed so dramatically in this location, so for us all to participate in it for the final MasterChef filming was an unbelievable honor.
You raised funds for the Salvation Army – are they a charity that is close to your heart?
Several cherished family members were heavily involved in the charity and for me I have always respected their direct approach to community support.
You have posted about Finding Nemo on your site and we have something in common – we love the movie and also went to see it again when it was re-released. My sons were small when it first came out and we still watch it from time to time. I can’t wait for the Dory movie to come out next year! You write “As I watched this film the other day I thought to myself, why just watch the fish… why don’t you eat them!” – because fish are friends, not food! LOL! However, fish can be such a tasty dish – walk us through making the best fish and chips?
Ahh yes, I do write some strange recipes… what can I say, I am pretty obsessed with pop culture. I am probably not the best person to tell you about the best fish and chips, as it was what I was eliminated on in MasterChef, however I think we can all agree…. Air like batter around moist fish and crunchy light chips are all you could ever ask for!
I quote from your website “There is nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than make fresh pasta. There is something therapeutic about making the dough and rolling the pasta, it is almost calming. And the results are well worth the effort.”
This is not the first time I’ve heard this said about making pasta. Your recipe in that post looks absolutely delish – I’m going to try it, although I just know my attempt isn’t going to work out as well as yours. LOL! Do you find that cooking in general can be therapeutic? What is it about it that calms the soul?
Absolutely…. Cooking is the most therapeutic thing you can do. For most of my life I used it as an escape from the pressures of regular life… there is something almost Zen about the precise and repetitive motions of cooking as well as the amazing creativity and sensory enlightenment that it brings out in you. For me it is a therapist, time machine, masseuse and unyielding obsession!
You have an interest in popular culture too with reviews of the movie “Only God Forgives”, the game GTA V, and Hannibal being some of the latest posts on your blog Food That Rocks. Your posts have recipes of food which definitely go with the mood of the things you’re reviewing! You’re seeing the connection between food and pop culture.
I believe that anybody who reaches the height of their career and becomes well known for what they do has the ability to tweak a thread which can touch and inspire all humanity through generations, races, genders. What are your thoughts about this and specifically about how food can do this?
Food is something we all have in common, no matter who you are and where you live. It is the thing that we share with those we love, the adventure we take in a foreign land and the reason we feel so comforted when we step into our mother’s kitchen.
I am obsessively addicted to pop culture and my home is a testament to this, I have massive collections of film, music, comics and literature that dominate a large portion of my home.
I write recipes about Movies and Music because they are the things I am surrounded with every day, to me it makes perfect sense to combine all of the things that I love.
What’s your favorite movie or TV show and what dish goes together with that?
That is way to big a question to answer… I did like the Hannibal Lector dish I made in honor of that great quote about the censor, the liver and the fava beans… the photo of it still freaks me out a bit!!!
One of the most memorable quotes made by Hannibal Lector is in Silence of the Lambs when he tells Clarice Starling “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Now if you are going to do a dish based on Hannibal, you really can’t go past this one. Even though I decided to use calves liver instead of human I was still too freaked out to eat it when I was finished cooking…
You spent a lot of your career as a band manager and you play the guitar. Are you still involved in music at all and do you still find the time to play? Would you say your first love is music or cooking?
I don’t play any more unfortunately and my wife and I stopped working in the industry last year. I will say that the fact that I got to work with the incredible artists I had the privilege of being involved with during my time in the industry make me feel like the luckiest man in the world!
What lies ahead for Aaron Harvie?
Pretty broad question and hard to answer, I always had one rule…. Have no regrets… so no matter what happens I can guarantee that it will be doing what I want to be doing!
Where can people follow and support you?
I am pretty crap on social media…. But my links are below… by all means come say hi!!!
You’re a lot of fun Aaron and I really appreciate this – hope one day to meet you over in Australia! Please keep me posted of any new developments and I will gladly publicize them here for you. Do yourselves a big favour and go right through Aaron’s site Food That Rocks, if you’re here for the food, or if you’re here for the pop culture, or just because you’re interested! You will find something for yourself there.