Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born and raised in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. It’s a region best known for it’s food and wine- I think some of it rubbed off on me!
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve, I was pretty keen on becoming a professional tennis player. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought!
At eighteen I had just begun a Mechanical Engineering/Sports Science degree, with a desire to work at the Australian Institute of Sports. I’ve recently turned 22, and now I want to cook for a living! Ask me the thirty question in a few years time…
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I was a bit short-sighted in thinking that a large salary was the most important factor when selecting a career. Since I have started cooking for a living, something I love, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
Getting my first cookbook encouraged me to start experimenting in the kitchen. It just seemed like a bit of fun at the time, but in hindsight was probably quite significant! Secondly, moving out of home and starting uni was a big step for me, and it meant I had to be a bit creative when I was cooking as the budget could be tight. Finally, appearing on Masterchef Australia gave me the exposure and opportunity to write a book, which I’m very grateful for.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
I don’t think the introduction of new media avenues makes others redundant- the introduction of television didn’t kill radio. Rather, I think it’s an exciting time for consumers, with more choice than ever before. I think books will always have their place, to me a book has personality and character while a screen doesn’t.
6. Please tell us about your latest book… The Starter Kitchen : Learn How to Love to Cook
Latest and first! I wanted to write a book indicative of my experience of learning to cook- from the basics I learnt in school, to moving out of home and cooking for mates. I don’t take myself too seriously, so I used a casual, conversational tone throughout. The recipes are my favourites, but I have also included my opinions on how best to shop, set up your kitchen, and how to start cooking without a recipe. I hope people have as much fun reading it as I had writing it!
(BBGuru: the publisher’s synopsis –
Moving out of home? Setting up house with a few mates? Or just looking for inspiration to to get started in the kitchen.
The Starter Kitchen will help you set up your kitchen, and then use it to create food you and your friends will love.
Learn how to roast a chicken, cook the perfect steak and make the most of a few lonely eggs. From super-quick chicken satay and homemade pizza, to coconut panna cotta, The Starter Kitchen is packed with simple tips on buying fresh produce, using the right equipment, shopping on a budget, and basic cooking skills. You’ll find simple flavour-filled and satisfying recipes, using ingredients readily available in the supermarket.
2010 MasterChef Australia runner up, Callum Hann, challenges young people, and those of us not so young, to start to develop their skills and love of cooking. Callum serves up an easily digestible mix of kitchen tips, over 60 cheap, cheerful and super-quick recipes, and a handy collection of menu plans for all occasions.
The Starter Kitchen will set you up for a life of good food.)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I would love to dispel the myth that cooking is hard- I really believe that anyone can cook, and cook well. Unlike many art forms, cooking is not so much a talent as it is learned. No one is born knowing how to cook. So if you think you can’t cook, you can with a little more practise!
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
Jamie Oliver, he has had an unparalleled effect on making cooking popular and highlighting its importance to young people. He is incredibly inspiring, selfless, and generous.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Two years ago I was two years into a uni degree- I had a firm direction and a set of career goals to follow. Since then my life has changed dramatically, and I’m glad I was flexible enough with my goals to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, my life has become a bit less planned, and I’m happy to continue new adventures.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Write about what you are most passionate about and the words will flow easily. Have a notepad or laptop with you at all times – there’s nothing worse than having a great idea that slips your mind by the time you get home or to work!
Callum, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.