With Queensland’s premier food and wine festival, Regional Flavours, set to kick off at South Bank on July 15 and 16, there’s no better time to get excited about winter cooking. When the weather cools down it can be tempting to jam-pack our meals with comforting ingredients like sugar and cream, but it’s easier than you think to warm up and stay healthy at the same time – just take this apple crumble recipe from Tobie Puttock. We had a chat to the celebrity chef and co-author of ‘The Chef Gets Healthy’ ahead of his presentation at Regional Flavours.

What is your go-to ‘winter warmer’ meal?
We have a few, but my favourite is probably fish pie with smoked cod, blue eye, prawns, peas and dill. We also go berserk for minestrone and a sort of chilli beans with sweet potato, avocado, coriander and a little cheese.

Are there any family recipes that you still make? Why do you think it’s been passed down?
We don’t have too many family recipes at all really, but my dad makes a killer chocolate torte – I finally convinced him to give me the recipe a few years back. I love going around to their place and eating it so much.

Is there any one ingredient that you just looooove to use? Is there something you can’t stand?
There are many that I love – salt, olive oil, truffles, bottarga, lardo, porcini mushrooms. I can’t stand kiwi fruit and squid; they both send me to hospital. I also find the whole edible flowers things a bit much… it’s cool sometimes, but a thousand times?

Do you have any fool proof tips to take a dish from mundane to tastebud-tingling? 
MSG does that, but I can’t stand the stuff. My fool proof tip is a little love – I know it sounds ‘you know what’, but a little love and care can make a simple cooked omelette or pumpkin soup come to life.

You’ve trained and cooked in some of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world – what brought you back to Australia?
To be honest it was my wife. I love Australia and Melbourne is my home, but in my heart I’m a wanderer. For years I lived out of a bag and if it wasn’t for Georgia, and now my little Birdie, I would probably still be living in the Swiss or Italian Alps.

What do you love about Australian cooking?
Australian cooking is so awesome. When I trained all those thousands of years ago we had all the cuisines from everywhere delving in a little thing called fusion cooking – which perhaps quickly became confusion cooking. But things seem to be very different now. There are some younger guys who have found the glide that fuses ingredients together to create the most amazing dishes. I think that now more than ever it’s a really exciting time in Australian cooking.

Can you tell us a little bit about your passion for cooking with organic and sustainable ingredients?
When I started cooking in Melbourne, a tomato was a tomato and beef fillet came vacuum-sealed with a label saying ‘beef fillet’. When I started working at The River Cafe in London it sort of undid everything I had learnt. I didn’t actually work there that long but the ethos really hit home with me – tomatoes were only on the menu when they were right in season, beef was traced back to its farm and sold by breed on the menu. This is just a snapshot, but we changed the entire menu every single shift and it was amazing time to be cooking – hard, but amazing.

We often associate winter with ‘hibernation’ and use it as an excuse to go for the naughtiest items on the menu – do you have any tips for keeping healthy through the colder months, when all we want is a hot chocolate with whipped cream?
Yep – eat on a treadmill, haha! It’s interesting because we don’t need to layer up like our instincts tell us too in order to brave the colder months – most of us have heating now. My book ‘The Chef Gets Healthy’ is sort of about this. When you think about it, Mother Nature actually gives us what we need without the fats. In summer we have amazing and refreshing fruits and so on, and in winter we have root vegetables that can be roasted or turned into amazing soups that don’t need to be drowned in cream.

Have you spent much time in Queensland?
When I was in my early teens I worked in Palm Cove for a stint at Bill Marchetti’s restaurant. It was so hot in the kitchen I had to make the fresh pasta in the cool room, and I remember one time a box of crabs was sitting on the kitchen floor and a rogue crab literally walking in from the beach – perhaps he was trying to free his buddies.

If yes, what do you love about visiting Brisbane? If no, what are you most excited for?
I love going to Brisbane to see my friends. They all go there for one reason or another and never come back – what have you done to them Brisbane???

Visit www.regionalflavours.com.au

Apple Crumble Recipe

TP-Desserts-PearCrumble v2Serves 6

“Ask me to write one hundred low-carb savoury recipes without refined sugar or gluten, and I can make it happen with some trial and error, but desserts are a bit more complicated. I wanted to use ingredients that are natural and easy to find, and discovered that quinoa flakes are an excellent option. I hadn’t tried using them in desserts before, but now I’m a convert. Thanks to everyone at Prahran Health Foods for the advice” – Tobie

“Dessert isn’t really part of my diet plan, but look at this crumble! The refined sugar and butter are gone, yet it still tastes divine. Since this isn’t an everyday sort of thing, I might even add a small bit of cream on top (for added calcium, of course!)” – Georgia


  • 6 pink lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1⁄2 cup (80 g) sultanas


  • 11⁄2 cups (165 g) quinoa flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1⁄2 cup (50 g) walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Pop the apple wedges, 1 cup (250 ml) water, orange zest, vanilla seeds and pod, cinnamon, nutmeg and sultanas into a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the apple wedges are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the crumble, put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  4. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the base of a round or square baking dish, about 5 cm deep. Scatter the crumble over the top, making sure it’s an even thickness, then bake for 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden. Serve.

ENERGY (KJ/CAL): 1514/362  
PROTEIN (G): 5.5
FAT (G): 14



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