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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

This Stone rocks

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Matt Stone rocks Perth – and the world – in his affair with sustainable food and Australian native ingredients.

TAKE a 26-year-old man from Down Under, rock some tattoos on him, and hand him a crank-handle spatula. You'll get Matt Stone, not the average chef. He's a good looker with a passion for respecting the environment and working with ethical producers.

"I let the environment and the world of sustainability dictate the food that I cook," says Stone in a phone interview from Australia.

Stone is one half of the duo starring in Recipes that Rock, the TLC cookshow premiering tomorrow on Astro Channel 707. The executive chef of Greenhouse Perth, an eco-friendly restaurant, he won the 2011 Good Food Guides Best Young Chef while his restaurant was named Best Restaurant; in the same year, he was crowned the Gourmet Traveller Best New Talent.

The string of achievements is quite a feat for a young man who didn't finish high school. Being a young chef – and not having paper qualifications – it took a while for Stone to get respect from his peers.

In 2003, at the age of 15, Stone started work in the kitchen at the Leeuwin Estate Winery in his hometown of Margaret River. After two years as a kitchen apprentice, he moved to one of Perth's most highly regarded restaurants, Star Anise, where he developed his skills and passion for cooking under head chef David Coomer. Coomer was his inspiration and at the age of just 20, he was appointed sous chef of Star Anise.

Two years later, Stone was approached to lead the kitchen of Greenhouse Perth. Here, he embraced the Greenhouse by Joost philosophy of preparing fresh, sustainable, locally-sourced, whole foods. He did not consider himself a qualified chef, but that did not stop him from being a champion for sustainable dining.

Stone and James catch and cook their own dinner in Recipes that Rock.

Stone (left) and James catch and cook their own dinner in the show.

Greenhouse was started by Joost Bakker, a self-taught, discipline-crossing, boundary-pushing florist, furniture and lighting designer, artist and environmentalist who works with recycled materials and plants and has been creating media headlines since the 90s. In his element in this environment, Stone made a name for himself as a progressive cook and put Greenhouse at the front of Perth's dining culture.

"Australia has a massive amount of fruits, spices and herbs that we're only just discovering," says Stone. Taking this as his chance for a cooking experiment, Stone adds that he wants to try cooking exotic dishes like crickets, green tree ants and Australian native products like wallaby and kangaroos!"

Kangaroos? One might be shocked, but Stone says it's all in the name of sustainability. "In Australia, there are three (wild) kangaroos for every person. They don't take up man's space; we don't have to grow and produce grains and feed for them. So in my eyes, it's a no-brainer to be eating them.

"Consuming insects is definitely common in Asia. It's really an ethical way of consuming protein, vitamins and nutrients," says the chef who finds Copenhagen a fantastic city teeming with the best restaurants.

For a chef with a tattoo of a pizza slice, Stone is a superb master of wines. Stone recommends the Leeuwin Estate chardonnay, which he says is really delicious; the Picardy pinot noir, because Picardy is a great producer in the Southwest of Western Australia and they consistently make really lovely pinot noir wines which lend to a lot of his food pairings; and Dom Perignon, because he just loves drinking champagne.

Stone is described as the chef with tattoos. Why has tattoo come to define him? Stone believes that being a skater and a punk rock lover had influenced him into getting seriously tattooed. "If I could spend a heap of money buying artwork and putting them on my wall at home, why not get them and put them on myself!"

Food is often said to bring people together; for Stone it reflects the environment which is in itself, art. Art on his body and art in the cooking pot.

The show

In the six-part series Recipes that Rock, Stone teams up with 45-year-old Alex James, a British rock star-turned-cheese maker, to embark on a gourmet journey around the Margaret River region of Western Australia.

In each half-hour episode, the duo dove into the culinary delights and freshly-picked produce across Margaret River, once a chilled-out surfing town known also for its wines. More recently, artisan cheese, chocolate and olive oil producers have made it their home alongside outstanding microbreweries.

Inspired by the high-quality Asian dishes and Pacific Rim cuisine, Stone and James cook up feasts like sticky Vietnamese pork, Mexican spiced abalone with avocado and mango salad, barbecued marron with grilled asparagus and beach herbs, and delicious desserts like a liquid-centred chocolate cake and sheep milk ice-cream with fruits, pistachios and rose petal syrup.

Not only do the boys cook up a storm in the kitchen, they get down and dirty hive-hunting for gooey golden honey, scouring the aqua-blue beaches to pick abalone and play catch with piglets stuck on an island off the mainland of a free-range pig farm.

The boys continue ticking off their food lover's must-do list: hunting for black truffles, touring the local wineries, catching their own dinner and meeting with experts who share special tricks of the trade while rubbing shoulders with renowned chefs from around the globe – Alex Atala, Alvin Leung, Heston Blumenthal, Rene Redzepi and Tetsuya Wakuda to name a few – as the gourmet world descends on the region for Margaret River's Gourmet Escape.

Recipes That Rock is on every Monday at 7pm on TLC (Astro Channel 707), starting April 28; encores every Tuesday at 10am. Visit Matt Stone's restaurant Greenhouse Perth here: To find out more about the interesting work of Joost Bakker,

TV's US presidents we wished were sort of real

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 08:55 PM PDT

From super intelligent to adulterous to power-hungry, leaders of the land of the free have been portrayed in many ways in television series.

Some people are so fascinated with the president of the United States and would stop at nothing to find out all they can about who he really is, his favourite hangout joints, whether he cries at the end of a romantic comedy or even his shoe size.

And since he doesn't have his own reality TV show in which we can take a glimpse into his private life, the only thing that comes close to imagining what the president is like at home and what he really does behind closed doors is through a television series with a POTUS character.

Of course these fictional shows may not give us an accurate representation of the president's behaviour, but nevertheless shows like Scandal and The West Wing do give us a side of the leader of the free world that many want to see.

Now TV's US presidents come and go but only some remain in our hearts and memory long after they are assassinated, impeached or simply killed off to give the show's writers some new material to work on. Here are the ones who made the cut:

Scandal (President Fitzgerald Grant)

Played to perfection by Tony Goldwyn, President Fitzgerald Grant is the poster boy for all things red, white and blue – well, except for his extra-marital affair which threatens to make his world come crashing down.

Married to an almost perfect woman, Fitz courts a lot of drama as he gets entangled in a deliciously dangerous and oh-so-naughty affair with his White House aide, Olivia Pope. All that sexual tension between the two lovers and their super-secret trysts make for a delicious viewing.

Other than that one dirty bit on his otherwise impeccable resume, Fitz was born to lead and that he does with a great sense of pride. His Ivy League education also comes in handy now and then.

House Of Cards (President Francis Underwood)

If there is one war that any world leader should not get into with President Francis Underwood, the fictional 46th President of the United States, it has to be a war of words. Francis (played by Kevin Spacey) is a ruthless and cunning politician whose flair for words would definitely bring one down without much effort.

He is known for his biting remarks and colourful quotes such as, "If we never did anything we shouldn't do, we'd never feel good about doing the things we should", "They talk while I imagine their slightly salted faces frying in a skillet" and "A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power".

When Frank is not busy fighting his opponents, he is hell bent on getting what he wants – more power and materialistic possessions – and doesn't think twice about killing those who stand in his way.

The West Wing (President Josiah Bartlet)

There have been a few presidents featured on this multiple award-winning show but Martin Sheen's Josiah "Jed" Bartlet is the one that the audience favours. Classified as an "ideal liberal president", Bartlet is a distinguished leader with lots of intelligence, personality and a great sense of humour.

He may also be the only fictional US president who was created based on a few real presidents and their characteristics, like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. The series even had a story arc in which Bartlet hides a serious illness, like Kennedy, during a presidential campaign.

Creators of the show were also inspired by actual events that happened, and used the situations to mould Bartlet's character even further.

24 (President David Palmer) 

Dennis Haysbert 

In the show where people don't eat or use the toilet, actor Dennis Haysbert plays President David Palmer, a Democratic senator from Maryland who eventually becomes the first African-American US president.

Of course, he is not the only president featured on the adrenaline-pumping show that had millions of people hooked worldwide.

David, often described as a committed and honest leader who has the best interest of the American people at heart, is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Sherry with whom he has two children Keith and Nicole. But of course, no First Family is free of scandal and David's is no exception.

Together with show protagonist Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), David fights to keep the "land of the free and home of the brave" just what it is and may or may not have paid for it with his life. Is this where you say spoiler alert?

Commander In Chief (President Mackenzie Allen)

Do not even bother coming up with "PMS-fuelled speeches" and "international pillow fight" jokes to describe Geena Davis' role as US President Mackenzie Allen.

Yes, she is a woman and yes, she is the President of the United States of America ... in this show.

Proving that women have to work twice as hard even in the White House, Mackenzie is a force to be reckoned with and no, nobody should mess with this Iron Lady. Sworn into the office after her predecessor suffers a stroke, Mackenzie surprises her people, and everyone else around the world, with her commanding ways and quick wit.

Calm and intelligent, she is a university chancellor with two Nobel Prize awards but is first and foremost a loving mother and wife to an understanding husband who doesn't mind decorating the White House Christmas tree while his wife is busy running the country.

Witch-ful thinking: 'American Horror Story' offers a new variety of scares

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The new season of American Horror Story is set in a coven full of powerful witches.

American Horror Story: Coven, the third season of the FX anthology series, differs in many ways from Season Two, trading a harrowing asylum for a witches' coven; 1960s Massachusetts for present-day New Orleans; and deep, deep darkness for scary with a dash of comedy, co-creator Ryan Murphy says.

"This is my favourite season that we've done so far," he says. "It's very odd and peculiar and very pop culture-y ... particularly after last year, which was so dark and grim and hard. I loved it, but this year was designed to be a little bit scary, but more fun. I heard a lot last year, 'Oh, we love it, but it's hard to sit through.' So, I wanted this year to be not so hard to sit through, a little bit more light in tone."

Coven features a mix of veterans of earlier Horror seasons in different roles including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Frances Conroy – and newcomers such as Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett.

Lange, in her third Horror turn, trades in her nun's garb from Asylum for a more glamorous look as Fiona, "the world's biggest liberal" and a Supreme, the most powerful witch of her generation. Fiona comes back to New Orleans to protect the younger witches in an academy run by her daughter, Cordelia (Asylum's Sarah Paulson), with whom she has a hostile relationship.

"I think (Jessica) particularly loved that she got to wear St Laurent heels and make-up after last year. It was something completely different for her," Murphy says. "And she hasn't in her career, because she's such a great dramatic actress, had a lot of occasion to do comedic stuff."

The youthful coven members, played by Horror alumnae Taissa Farmiga and Jamie Brewer and first-timers Gabourey Sidibe and Emma Roberts, have ties to the Salem witches and possess a range of powers, including telekinesis, mind-reading and an undesired ability to kill via sex.

The identity of the next Supreme is a big, season-long mystery, Murphy says, but Fiona won't go quietly.

"She's not giving up that throne, no way."

Bates and Bassett play historical figures, Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau, respectively, whom Murphy learned about while researching New Orleans' rich past.

LaLaurie was a sadistic 19th-century slave-owner who tortured her human possessions, while Laveau was a voodoo practitioner. Each has a role in the present; Laveau runs a hair salon.

Fiona, who cannot use her powers to stop ageing, seeks out LaLaurie to learn why she has eternal life and then learns of her past atrocities, Murphy says. So LaLaurie is forced to become a personal slave to Sidibe's Queenie as payback.

"Through that relationship, (LaLaurie) has an entire season of guilt and remorse, finally learning about the gravity of what she did," Murphy says. "It is also a meditation on race relations in this country. There's a very strong arc about the Salem witches and the voodoo witches and, 'Can't we all get along to fight our common enemies?' So, it really is an allegory for any minority group in our country."

Bates had a grand time with the role, despite Murphy's early warning.

"I said, 'I don't know if you'd ever want to play a character that's eight times worse than your character in Misery,'" he says. "And I just spent the weekend with her, and she says that this part is her favourite part that she's ever played ... She loves the costume, she loves the arc, she loves the comedy."

Another change for Coven is the location shooting in New Orleans (the first two seasons were filmed primarily in Los Angeles studios). Murphy wanted the historical connection to Salem, but didn't want to film there, and Lange pushed to shoot in New Orleans.

"It made sense to me that the true witches were smart enough to escape and had fled," he says. "So, once she said that, I started to (do) research ... and then you come across Madame LaLaurie, Marie Laveau and the Axeman serial killer (Danny Huston), and all these great horror legends of that city. And it just felt like a natural to me ... There's something about that city that's quite magical and quite creepy and scary." – USA Today/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

American Horror Story: Coven premieres tonight at 11pm on FX HD (Astro Ch 726).


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