Pete EvansPete Evans discovered his love of cooking because of his passion for the great outdoors. If he could work at night and have his days free to surf and fish, then a chef he would be.
"It all started in the surf" commented Evans, "we'd spend days surfing, watching the waves, swimming and fishing - that's all we wanted to do." Growing up in the sea Pete's love and respect of the ocean continued through to the plate has he started to experiment in the kitchen with the fruits of the catch. Like the rest of us Pete soon needed a job to maintain his lifestyle and like many young Australians he soon found himself in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant. Learning recipes at home using the fish and crustaceans straight from the sea and understanding the operations of professional kitchens on the line became an infectious combination that quickly led Pete to the Executive Chef and Partner position for The Pantry as well as creating the Hugo's restaurant group in Sydney.
Pete's passion was well received and his food met the taste buds of the Australia people and the ever challenging critics earning 8 "Chef's Hats" given by The Sydney Morning Herald critics, 21 "Best in Australia" awards along with the "World's Best Pizza" award of 2005 following the live competition where the best pizza chefs from around the globe show their skills in America's pizza Mecca, New York City.
"But it was never just about pizza for me. I just played with amazing quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients from the local Australian providers I had been working with for the restaurants and factored in the pizza base." Pete's love of all food and love of the systems to run a professional kitchen found an unlikely audience in the corporate sector as well. Pete and the crew hosted corporate clients of all shapes and sizes and engaged them to use team skills to create in the kitchen. Tasty and effective this quickly became a popular business with books from Australia's top businesses, global corporates, foreign governments as well as being a feature for the winners of Oprah's Great Australian Adventure audience winners.
Pete was quickly climbing the Australian food chain. With top restaurants in Melbourne's Brighton Beach, Sydney's King's Cross, Manly and Bondi Beach hosting regulars including celebrities and Nicole Kidman, Keanu Reeves, Russel Crowe, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger and Tom Cruise - Pete's relaxed Aussie atmosphere with fresh, quality and modern menu.
With restaurants booming TV producers came calling. "No," Pete says shaking his head, "it just isn't me." thinking about the first request to screen test. But after a few calls, then a few more, Pete decided to take the opportunity to share his love of food and adventure with the Australian people. An intrepid adventurer, Pete and his best mate Udo would easily find themselves in the furthest reaches of Australia exploring the towns, beaches and outback, surfing, fishing, climbing and cooking their way around the country and doing it for TV was just as easy as long as the camera could keep up.
Pete soon became a regular in homes across Australia. Nine Network's #1 daytime show Fresh produced more than 400 episodes and Home on Lifestyle featured the more domestic side to his very diverse character. Both of these shows gave Australia a taste of the foods that had helped define the "modern Australian" category for more than a decade at his top restaurants of Sydney and Melbourne. Pete's professional chef hat has also been featured on TV for the feature Cooking for our Princess Mary, preparing food for a royal banquet show Pete not only delivers five-star food but delivers with the same personality under the pressure of Royal diners and their guests, millions of eyes across the country or the fickle food media. Pete has been seen on TV around the world by hundred's of millions of viewers appearing on top shows including America's NBC The Today Show - the number one morning news program in the world as well as The Martha Stewart Show, and many more.
In 2009 the call came from The Seven Network launching a new format competition cooking show exposing the best of Australia's home chefs in their home environments. My Kitchen Rules featured Pete Evans and co-host and judge Manu Feildel who spent his first years in Australia cooking in Pete's restaurants. My Kitchen Rules season three debut ranked #1 with a commanding audience of 1.5 million viewers.
Fielding offers from the major networks in Australia, the USA and even China, Pete has turned down many opportunities to flip a pan on camera not interested in the cookie-cutter programming. "It is hard to find the heart within a TV genre so saturated with food related programming," commented Pete talking about all of chefs now famed on TV, "that's not an insult but my next project has to include what I love most about food and that is people, adventure and culture."
At home Pete's love of the healthy super foods started to take over the new recipes in development. "Healthy foods haven't always been renown with tasty foods and certainly restaurant quality food like I had been accustomed to." Travelling throughout Asia and the Middle East Pete was not only exploring the land but also the food and culinary cultures that define these regions, as well as their local markets, herbs, grains, fruits and vegetables to find the healthiest and more interesting preparations of these foods to bring home. "Health food is an industry that from the outside looking in is boring but when you learn where many of these foods come from, how to prepare them and how to bring them into your own kitchens you can find a world of flavour on par with anything else you would cook - and - much better for you!" Pete, now a family man, is using his passion for life, adventure, travel and food to bring together the best of these worlds. "As you evolve in a public career where so many people get to comment on your work and your life you never really know how it will be received but thankfully the emails from people who read my books, try my foods and try them for their friends and families have all been incredibly positive... and thankfully I'm busier than ever doing what I love to do most."
Helping people find their place in the kitchen Pete worked nearly 2 years designing and tooling a collection of home kitchen products and accessories now widely available throughout Australia. He has also published 6 recipe books with a 7th, a focus on his famous Pizza recipes coming mid-2012. Pete is working with fresh food chain Sumo Salads to bring some of his super-food salads to Australian food court diners as well as Breville appliances, Jacob's Creek Reserve wines and Clark/DWC finishings on a new design of kitchen sink. Pete also represents the Range Rover Evoque and makes regular appearances at food events, galas and events around the world including the NYC G'Day USA gala. Busy, yes, and there is much more to come in 2012.
Giving back Pete contributes to and supports many charities including the Children's Hospital Foundation, Connecting Hands, The Starlight Foundation, The National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Paul Newman Foundation to name a few.
Pete has been described as distinctly Australian. He has a cutting edge sense of style holding court in any environment from ballrooms to pubs and he is most at peace on his board in the Bondi surf with his young daughters Chilli and Indii.
Catch Pete Evans at the following Tasting Australia events:
Outdoors on Parade Masterclass with Pete Evans - Fri 27 April
My BBQ Rules - Coppers Festival Launch Dinner with Pete Evans - Fri 27 April
Dinner with the Jacob's Creek Winemaker and Pete Evans - Sat 28 April
Miele Chefs' Showcase - Sun 29 April
Kids in the Kitchen Presented by San Remo - Sun 29 April