Life is a full plate at full pace for chef Matt Golinski
TRYING to pin Chef Matt Golinski down for an interview is like trying to corral a dozen frisky puppies.
He doesn't stand still for a minute, rushing from one assignment to another.
His commitments are as varied as they are exciting: celebrity chef appearances at festivals, filming for British television crews, cooking for the Prime Minister, attending to his many ambassador duties, consulting to restaurants.
The flood of daily invitations and work assignments into his email box surprises even Matt.
"Things keep on coming up," he laughed. "It's great. I get to do a huge variety of things."
That variety includes preparing for a guest appearance at the upcoming Noosa Food & Wine Festival (May 20-22) where he will present a dinner at Peppers Noosa Resort with Peppers executive chef, Andreas Nielsen, and guest chef, Alistair McLeod.
"I am going to be cooking with Queensland produce for the dinner," Matt said. "I will be doing cooking demonstrations at the Noosa Farmers Market for the festival as well. I'll be using local ingredients from the farmers market. Then it becomes a true part of the local thing. That is good news for Noosa, for the festival."
Few people could have envisaged Matt Golinksi making such an astonishing recovery after the terrible tragedy of the 2011 Boxing Day house fire that took the life of his wife and three daughters, left Matt terribly injured and the entire Sunshine Coast reeling with shock and compassion.
Although Matt's recovery means he now lives a busy and happy life with partner Erin Yarwood, he is reluctant to take any praise for his remarkable story of healing, courage and resurgence as inspiration to others.
"If people feel that way, that's nice," was all he said and changed the subject to one of his passions in life, apart from food: running and training for marathons.
And Matt needs a clear head just to keep up with all the appointments in his diary, especially the entry to cook for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a private event in Brisbane.
"That came up because somebody who knew me rang and asked would I do a VIP lunch in Brisbane," Matt said. "I said no because I was too busy and then they said: 'it's Malcolm Turnbull' so I made an exception. I was crazy busy that week, in Townsville for two days, Airlie Beach for another two, then Port Macquarie. I was to do three flights in seven days. I thought I'd be exhausted."
In typical style, Matt used the Prime Minister's lunch to show off local produce, something he is fervent about.
"It was a great opportunity to use a lot of stuff from producers I've met over the last couple of years, people who are really passionate about what they are doing," he said. "The Prime Minister didn't know he was eating cheese made in Woombye and honey from the Coast. It was a great way to get that sort of thing out there."
Another exciting assignment came his way through his strong connection with Slow Food Noosa - cooking for a BBC film crew making an adventure/food series.
On the banks of Lake Cootharaba at Boreen Point, Matt cooked barramundi with macadamias and finger limes, all filmed to be shown around the world.
No sooner had he finished that assignment, he was off to Cairns to talk about giant gropers.
"I am ambassador for a man who farms gropers," he said. "I struck up a relationship with him when I sat next to him at a lunch in Rockhampton.
"His company asked me to be ambassador for their product. He has been exporting the groper. It's a really great product. Rene Redzepi used it in his pop-up Noma restaurant in Sydney.
"Groper is not known as an eating fish. People think of gropers as those 500 kilo fish. But these are farmed to about four kilos. Their flesh is firm and white, like a reef cod, really lovely flesh. I've spent a couple of months working out recipes for using groper. That's my first role until there is enough stock to hit the domestic market. I have a dozen recipes already. I cooked groper at a dinner in Rockhampton, did it with local cuttlefish and fennel and preserved olives. It went down really well."
Matt is also The Gympie Food & Culinary Tourism Ambassador.
"I write a blog for them called Matt Eats Gympie," he said. "I love that job. Gympie has so many great producers, such diversity. I love the opportunity to showcase the different producers. They appreciate what I do for them. They are always generous and keen to show off what they are doing. It's a really good region to work in, they are switched on and motivated."
You'd think that would be more than enough workload for any chef, but there is more.
Matt makes guest appearances at almost every festival in the state including The Buderim Ginger Festival, The Felton Food Festival (Toowoomba), Tastings on Hastings (Port Macquarie), The Relish Fraser Coast Food Festival, Capricorn Food & Wine Festival, Tin Can Bay Food Festival... the list goes on and on.
Yet still there is more.
"I am involved in the running of a restaurant in Montville to open at the end of the year," Matt said. "It's called Altitude. I will be a consultant. Altitude should be up and running by October."
There is balance to this prodigious work load, and obviously a great deal of Matt's happiness comes from his new life with Erin on their quarter acre property in Pomona.
"I love living in Pomona, it's a beautiful town," he said. "People are lovely and friendly. It has a real community spirit. I love the mountain. I climb that mountain a lot. It's good for the soul."
Matt says his garden is another source of pleasure. "Every square inch of the place is chock a block with every kind of plant. It is the Noah's Art of fruit trees."
For now, Matt is enjoying his many and varied roles and the chance to meet so many people from different walks of life. He doesn't have time to look to the future.
"I get to travel and see the ways things are done. From a chef's point of view, that's good. In a couple of years it might settle down but for now, it's all good."