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Matt Moran on Masterchef, fame and Gordon Ramsay

Matt Moran and Helen McCabe.
Celebrity chef Matt Moran discusses Masterchef, ambition and Gordon Ramsay with The Australian Women's Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe.
Helen: MasterChef — how have you gone fitting in with the other three guys?
Matt: They're very, very tight. I thought I might be intruding on what they have, but in actual fact, I felt as though with people like George [Calombaris] and Matt [Preston], I was giving them a break, so they could have days off also.
Helen: Are you closer to one more than the others?
Matt: I love Georgie, I think he's just a beautiful, generous boy. I was overseas recently and I got a missed phone call from George, and I sent him a text back saying, "Buddy is everything all right?" And he wrote back in a text saying, "No buddy, I just miss you." And he meant that. That's George, he's just very generous.
Helen: You're famous now. Do you feel famous?
Matt: It kind of goes in waves. I don't notice it as much as the people around me. My wife, Sarah, notices it a lot more. People do get kind of bewildered to see me in the restaurant wearing a chef's uniform. But it's where I live, really.
Helen: Where did you get your food thing from?
Matt: Nowhere. I didn't know about it, didn't care about it. I left school, did work experience in a bakery. I remember Dad cutting up lambs and thought I wanted to be a butcher, so I did work experience in a butcher shop. But I thought, early mornings, meat – I will get bored because I obviously have a short attention span, that's probably my most annoying thing. So I started working at the Paramatta Returned Services League. And from day one, it was just food, grill, whatever. I thought, one day, maybe I could be head chef of an RSL. Then I got lucky and got a job at [the Sydney restaurant] La Belle Helene, seeing stuff that I'd never ever seen before, stuff like a fanned strawberry, just little things.
Helen: Are you hard on staff?
Matt: I'm not so much now, but yeah, I was, I was a tyrant. One, I've grown up. Two, I don't have a chip on my shoulder like I used to.
Helen: What was your chip about?
Matt: When I was working at [Sydney's] Paddington Inn, I think it was more that I wanted to succeed. I bought my own business, I wanted a chef's hat and I wanted it to be exactly the way I wanted it to be. So in the kitchen, it was like, "It's my name on that food!"
Helen: You were good friends with Gordon Ramsay. Do you still talk to him?
Matt: I've known Gordon for 16, 17 years. To be honest, in the last year, I haven't been to London, he hasn't been to Australia. Probably two texts from him this year, one to say, "Hi, I'm really busy".
Helen: What do you think of everything that's happened to him?
Matt: No matter how you look at it and what he's done, who he is, what restaurants he's opened or what he's closed, he is a man driven and a man with an amazing cooking ability. Back in his day, you can't take anything away from it. He was the best, no doubt. And no one's sacrificed more than he did. I saw that when I first met him.
Dinner At Matt's, published by Lantern, $49.95, will be released on October 3.
Read more of this story in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.
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