There's a meal I cook my children which we've dubbed "Matt and cheese". It's one of those dishes that fill our tummies and our hearts at the same time.
If they've had a bad week and end up at mum's for dinner, I comfort them with carbohydrates.
It's Matt Preston's Mac 'n' cheese with chunky garlic bread topping, from his book More: More recipes with more veg for more joy (Plum, $39.99, 2019).
We're catching up to talk about his memoir, Big Mouth, and he loves it that I'm serving it for dinner that night.
"The one thing anyone who writes a cookbook wants is for a recipe to become part of someone else's repertoire, it's the ultimate compliment," he says.
"And when you pass that recipe down it will become your mac and cheese recipe, your name will be attached to it."
In his memoir, he talks about the earliest meals he remembers from his own childhood - good and bad.
Tinned sardines mixed with breadcrumbs, olives, pimentos, diced onion and hard-boiled eggs, mixed into some kind of mousse; cod's roe pate; marinated kippers with onions; ham steak with tinned pineapple; Coco Pops with whipped cream.
"I bet you're astonished none of these iconic recipes made it into any of my eight cookbooks," he writes.
Food plays an important role in his memoir, for obvious reasons, but there's a lot to learn about a man who, for the sole fact we've seen his face on television for the best part of 15 years, we think we know.
His family history is worthy of its own story. It's complicated, he says in the book. His mother Jennifer wasn't married when she fell pregnant and years later she married another man who adopted Preston. Yet he had a wonderful relationship with both his maternal and paternal grandmothers who were completely different types.
His school years were a mix. One of his primary school report cards read "Matthew has a heart as big as his frame, tough and though the majority of boys here are so nice, the view is held that Matthew belongs to a very charming minority."
By high school, it was "To speak in cliches, he can be good when he wants to be. But when he doesn't, he can be awful. I do hope that he will make up his mind to do justice to himself."
After school he joined the army, attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst as a way of funding his studies at the University of Kent. He resigned his commission after his first year.
He soon found his university tribe, people who were into music and were happy to share their eyeliner. He formed a band called the Volcanic Rabbits who gave away sweets to the audience to quell any thoughts of rioting.
He worked on the alternative university newspaper and wrote about music, he played rugby and wore a black negligee to the end-of-season ball.
In 1993 he followed a girlfriend to Australia. The relationship was soon over but his career took off, writing for magazines about music and television.
He says he watched every single episode of Neighbours and Home Away that aired between late 1993 and 1998, coming up with story ideas for magazines back in the United Kingdom.
"I learnt that nothing good ever comes from weddings or picnics out in the country," he said.
He eventually started writing about food, reviewing restaurants, writing about new openings, the occasional longer feature. In 2002 he started writing for delicious magazine, and he still is.
In 2009 he was named the World's Best Food Writer in the World Food Awards.
That was also the year MasterChef first went to air.
"Our role on MasterChef wasn't to be the star, it was to be the rails on which the contestants ran," he said.
Nothing makes him prouder of hearing of alumni who are succeeding in the food industry, even the ones who got knocked out in the first round, particularly those ones.
"It was kind of sad when it finished but you don't go into those kind of things without knowing they'll finish at some point," he explained.
"It was sad because we weren't going to get to work with that family anymore, Gary, George, but the crew too, the behind the scenes team that we worked with over the seven years. That was the most painful wrench.
"Looking back at it I realised what an amazing privilege it all was."
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