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 bred in in Carlton, Melbourne. I spent some early years in Broadmeadows and then moved to Carnegie. I have very fond memories of my childhood there.
2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?
I wanted to be many different things growing up – one was a policeman, electrician. I always loved cooking though so this was what I was destined to be all along. Or a rock star!
When you are that age you think you will last forever but now I make sure I don’t let the simple things pass me by.
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?
My Father’s passing had a profound effect on me. It made me realise how fragile life is and how important it is to savour every moment.
The twin towers devastation made me think how important it is to make an effort every day to live in harmony. Cuisine is a great tool for this. And I have found ways to use it.
My recent trip to Italy for my next book project has reconnected me to my cucina Italiana, I am inspired and feel like I am 22 years old again.
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 thing so. There is something organic about the feel of a book, the look of the paper and the SMELL!!
This is something that can never be fully replaced and an experience that should not be fully omitted from our lives.
Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen is a recipe book, but also a love story. It is the story of displacement and discovery about adaptation. About the old and the new and the memories, food and experience we share through this journey.
It is a book that any migrant can relate to no matter where they are.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Treasure the family home that is often bound together by food. The preparation of it is as much as the sharing of it.
Every child, man or women deserves a place like this and to feel safe and loved.
It is very hard to pick one person. My father was a great influence on me, but in general I admire the kids that are full of their own great ideas and courage to realise them; and all the great chefs and home cooks of the world inspire me.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To work, eat, drink, love and to continue to evolve as a chef and a human.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and take control of your destiny.
Guy, thank you for playing.
Free recipe from Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen by Guy Grossi, La Torta di Marmellata Della Mamma, Mum’s Jam Tart, page 106.
Mum’s extremely simple but very tasty jam tart is one of those dishes I will never forget. It is like a crostata crossed with a cake. We always had jam in the house, so making this was never a problem. The smell of the tart baking in the oven would make our mouths water, and it was the perfect after-school energiser.
300 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
2/3 cup (145 g) caster sugar
1 1/3 cups (200 g) plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
grated zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup (220 g) jam (such as raspberry)
1/4 cup (20 g) desiccated coconut
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20 cm tart tin with butter.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated. Fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest until a smooth dough forms. Form into a ball, then wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured workbench (or between two sheets of baking paper) and roll out until 4 mm thick. Line the tart tin with the dough. Trim the edges, then combine the off-cuts and roll them out again until 4 mm thick. Using a crinkle cutter, cut the dough into eight 20 cm long x 1 cm wide strips and lay on a baking tray. Refrigerate the lined tin and the pastry strips for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Spoon the jam into the tart tin, then sprinkle with the coconut and arrange the pastry strips on top, trimming to remove excess if necessary. Bake for 40–45 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and serving.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.