Peter Evans
Pete Evans and his daughtersBy MERCEDES MAGUIRE

It's not by accident that Pete Evans has become one of Australia's most successful chefs. The 35-year-old would have to be one of the hardest working celebrity chefs in the country. Pete hit the small screen in 2000 on Foxtel's Liftestyle Channel show Home. From there his star continued to rise with the filming of a documentary where he famously cooked a seven-course dinner for Princess Mary and members of the Danish Royalty. Today the now-famous chef can be found on Channel Nine's Fresh. But before Pete became a television sensation, he was working to set up his culinary empire through the Hugos Group of restaurants which includes The Pantry in Melbourne's Brighton, Hugos Bondi, Hugos Lounge at Kings Cross and most recently Hugos Manly. Pete has also written three cookbooks, My Table, Fish and the recently-released My Grill as well as a monthly column in the Australian Women's Weekly. When he's not in the kitchen the chef can be found fishing, surfing and hanging out with his wife Astrid and their two gorgeous daughters, Chilli, four and Indii, three.

Young children are notorious for being fussy eaters. Do your girls turn their noses up at your food?

They are only four and three so it is hard to say exactly – but generally they love all food that get presented to them on their plates – from vegetable, ham hock & barley soup – to crumbed fish, sushi (they love salmon eggs the most), roast chicken and vegies, they love coming to Chinatown with me and picking the fish out of the tank that they want to eat steamed with ginger and spring onions and they love to eat the fish eyeballs (their mother taught them that)…so all in all they are pretty good eaters.

How do you overcome the challenge of getting children to eat a healthy, balanced diet?

I think that is common sense – everyone knows fruit & vegetables and seafood are so important in the diet – so that is what they started on when they started to eat solids. It of course comes from what the parents eat as well as to set the example for their kids – so from day one they have seen us eat a wonderful diet – I don’t think there is a greater gift than teaching your kids to eat well.

Have your girls shown any early interest in cooking themselves? Do you get them to help out in the kitchen?

They love watching and helping out in the kitchen – and my mum also has a vegie garden so the kids love helping out nan and identifying the different herbs and vegetables etc. Also I am sending my girls to a public school next year that has taken on the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project which will teach the kids about gardening and cooking from kindergarten all the way through to the end of primary school.

You have your finger in several pies (excuse the pun) from television shows to writing cookbooks, magazine columns and running the hugely successful Hugos restaurant empire. Do you find it hard to be away from your family?

I travel a bit but not too much – if I am away it is only usually for a couple of days at a time – and yes I miss them, but I love coming home to them and seeing their faces after I have been away.

You must cherish your free time together with your girls and wife Astrid. What do you like to do together as a family?

Yum cha is a great family outing or on the harbour in the boat – and I often take them to the movies or Imax as a dads day out.

What is it that you love most about being a dad?

Watching them grow in every way.

Do you do much of the weekday cooking when more of you're home, or is the home kitchen Astrid's domain?

I do most of the cooking but Astrid makes a mean spinach pie

Can you tell us about the last time you shared a laugh with Chilli and Indii?

Every moment we are together is laughter – there isn’t much time for anything but.

If you had just one wish (no matter how fanciful) to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

I think the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Project should be in every school in Australia – so that our kids grow up knowing about fresh food.


For more information on Pete Evans visit his website at www.peterevanschef.com.au
 
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