Mischief makers: Hamish Blake, left, and Andy Lee visit South America in their latest TV special.

Mischief makers: Hamish Blake, left, and Andy Lee visit South America in their latest TV special.

Hamish Blake is smart enough and sensitive enough to act his age (33). But he doesn’t see why he needs to. He’s having too much fun behaving like a 21-year-old.

He’d be perfectly capable of doing an educational travel series that analysed the history and culture of other lands, but that’s an approach he can keep in reserve for the future.

“I did half a science degree at uni and there is a part of my brain that would love one day to do something like tracing Charles Darwin’s journey through the Galapagos Islands,” he says. “I’m sure we can’t be pushing each other over and making each other eat penis soup forever. Or maybe we can.

Pioneering ideas: Gabriel Gate.

Pioneering ideas: Gabriel Gate.

“We probably don’t have the checks and balances we would normally have in polite society, because we do go a bit feral on these trips. There’s no denying that when you get two boys together who are a bit competitive by nature and who want to egg each other on, unfortunately what you see on TV is what naturally happens when we two are around each other.”

Channel Nine launches the latest adventure of Blake and Andy Lee, Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year South America, on Tuesday. Blake says this series has more danger than any of the previous five.

“We ended up doing a few things that have a pretty loose approach to safety … going up a live volcano to cook a lasagne, launching fireworks off a flimsily made scaffolding from the top of your head. There’s a trip to the hospital for one of us after an initiation ceremony gone slightly wrong in the Amazon. To those people who want to see one of us make the other guy gag, there’s plenty of that.”

But it’s not as if their travels are entirely about juvenile japery. They do offer incidental insights into other cultures.

“We start off in Australia with a whiteboard full of activities we might do, but we come home and it ends up being about people. It always comes down to who you meet on the day. Looking at the board full of activities gives you the confidence to say, ‘Let's go and make a TV show,’ but it’s rarely those things that end up being the memorable moments. It’s the people and the unexpected things that happen when you are over there.

“We give a high value to a spirit of adventure and at times that takes precedence over common sense, but I think you can be thoughtful and inquisitive and respectful to everyone and still do those things. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.”

And will he still be doing this in five years' time? “We’ve just had a baby so I can’t imagine what I’ll be doing in five weeks' time. This is a time in my life when I’m completely in the moment. Because I’ve had no sleep, I have no available brain power to be thinking of what’s next. As long as we’re still having fun, I’ll be up for that.”

Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year South America, airs on Tuesday at 7.30pm on Channel Nine. 

A foodie fantasy

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate , author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said, ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying, ‘What’s cooking doing there? We want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the finals of My Kitchen Rules were the most watched shows of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” - a kind of pornography that encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments - played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour de France - to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream; it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t travel with the cyclists. He makes his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding - essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavour, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast - very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

Securing the future

It’s been said the ABC serves the community from cradle to grave, but leaves the people in between to the commercial networks. Having perfected programming for the over-50s, the ABC is now tinkering with its under-12s programming, based on research on how Australian families live in the 21st century. Apparently kids are getting up much earlier and going to bed much earlier – until they become teenagers, when they stay up all night and sleep in till midday.

From next week, ABC4Kids will open for business at 5am, seven days a week, giving parents an opportunity to turn on the box and go back to bed. “This comes as a result of feedback from parents of younger children who would like the channel to start earlier,” says the ABC. “From 5am, early-rising preschoolers will now be able to enjoy programs such as Waybuloo, Pingu and The Koala Brothers.

“Bedtime messages will now begin at 5.30pm. ABC TV understands the importance of bedtime routines for little ones, so, to support our youngest viewers, Giggle and Hoot bedtime messages will now begin at 5.30pm, helping children prepare for bed with songs like The Birdbath Boogie, Five Steps to Bed and The Night Watch. Each day on ABC4Kids will end with Hoot’s Lullaby.”

Once the preschoolers are asleep, the fun starts for their older siblings. At 6.45pm there will be what the ABC calls “a flagship bulletin for kids designed to complement the adult news service at 7pm on ABC1 … At 7pm, to better meet changing viewing patterns of Australian families, ABC3 will offer a new entertainment block, where parents and children can enjoy programs together such as Horrible Histories, Dance Academy, Outnumbered, Leonardo and Sinbad.”

Then at 9.30pm, anybody still awake can enjoy the bloodbath in shows such as The Tunnel.

For a daily update, go to http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

For a daily update, go to http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind

Just over 20 years ago Gabriel Gate [SUBS, THERE SHOULD BE AN ACUTE ACCENT ON THE FINAL E], author of 23 cookbooks and participant in countless daytime talk shows, pitched a radical idea to Channel Nine: a food show that would be broadcast at night. This was the response: “Cooking will never ever be on prime time television, because it’s just not the kind of thing that would work.”

Just over 12 years ago, Gabriel Gate pitched to SBS’s sports guru, Les Murray, the idea of a regional food segment that could be broadcast as part of the coverage of the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France. This was the response: “You know Gabriel, we do sport, we don’t do cooking.”

But SBS quickly came around, Gate recalls. “After a couple of years Les Murray said ‘You know what, we think it’s a great idea, so why not produce a pilot and if we like it, you go ahead.’

“So this is my tenth anniversary doing Taste Le Tour. There’s still quite a lot of cyclists saying ‘What’s cooking doing there -- we want to see more of the story behind the race, how the bikes are put together or the diet of the cyclists.’ It’s quite a privilege that a sports show has given us those four minutes at a time that is so precious, to create a kind of postcard of the culture.”

The commercial networks took a little longer than SBS to come around to the notion that Australians might watch cooking at night. But when they did, the phenomenon exploded. The final of MasterChef was Australia’s most watched show of 2011, and the final of My Kitchen Rules was the most watched show of 2012 and 2013.

So has all this transformed Australia into a nation of cooks? Sadly, no, says Gate. He refers to Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules as “game shows” -- a kind of pornography, which encourages us to watch rather than do. We may know a lot names names for dishes and techniques, but we do nothing with them.

“It’s fantasy, more talking than action. When we were young, people had dinner parties. Now takeaway has taken over. There is a lot less cooking at home than my generation. Ten years ago, people might have got takeaway once a week. Now lots of people almost every day get some form of food that is ready to eat. They don’t cook, they just reheat.”

He does not expect his own segments, played in the first hour of each night’s coverage of the Tour De France, to cause an outbreak of home cooking. “My main aim is to show France, the culture, a way of travelling, visit a market, see how cheese is made, taste the wine. Yes it’s nice if people cook, but it’s not the point of it. It makes you dream, it takes you away to another place.”

Gate doesn’t actually travel with the cyclists. He has to make his food segments well in advance, “When the route is announced in October, I start researching, thinking of what are the regional specialities, what wines or cheeses they make, if there’s a chef who would be interesting. Then I spend two months travelling 8,000 kilometres with a cameraman.”

This year’s tour begins in northern England, where Gate had some trouble understanding the passion for Yorkshire pudding -- essentially just fried dough, served with drinks before the meal begins, rather than with the beef and vegetables as he’d expected.

“The Yorkshire pudding is almost like a pancake that has blown up into a cakey thing,” he says. “To some people it is stodgy, but it’s the tradition. It is not so much the flavor, it’s the texture. I think textures are something that are cultural, and it’s very difficult for people who were not born with it to understand the beauty of it.

“I’ve been a chef for 40 years and you learn that you have to open yourself to the culture, and try to understand what people like about it. It’s like Vegemite on toast -- very difficult for anybody else to love.”

Gabriel Gate’s Taste Le Tour starts on Saturday and will be on SBS1 between 10pm and 11pm every night during the Tour de France.

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