'Fast' Ed Halmagyi stars in the TV series Better Homes and Gardens. Supplied by Channel 7.
'Fast' Ed Halmagyi stars in the TV series Better Homes and Gardens. Supplied by Channel 7.

Fast Ed on food, family and being a 'grandad' in TV

FAST Ed Halmagyi wants to create a recipe book that readers will stain, dog-ear the pages - and actually use.

"That's a book whose purpose has lived," he said.

In his sixth recipe book, The Everyday Kitchen, the chef famous for his 15-series stint on television show Better Homes and Gardens aims to give parents ideas for quick meals.

"I think this is a book worth sharing," he said.

"It is some of the best content I've ever written in terms of genuinely being able to deliver simple, deliciously predictable food on a Tuesday or Wednesday night for busy working mums and dads."

The chef started his career as a 15-year-old kitchenhand. The head chef walked out of the cafe he was working at and the teen stepped into the role. Despite starting university studies, food always beckoned and Halmagyi switched to a career in cooking.

The chef, now 42, works seven days a week but always has about five weeks off over the summer to spend with his family - wife Leah and children Finn, 11, and Luca, 14.

The kids do help him cook when he is making meals for them in their Sydney home, but he also spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking for work, too.

"My daughter is at a point where she is pretty much beyond wanting to have anything to do with her parents, but we still get the occasional moment," Halmagyi joked.

"My boy, at 11, he's at a great age where he still wants to go to the beach, wants to kick a footy, wants to go to the park, wants to go skating.

"He wants to hang out with me and that's good. I'll take it for as long as it's there. Soon enough he'll turn around and decide that I'm redundant."

Halmagyi was born into a Hungarian-Jewish family. Prior to the Second World War, the chef said, there were tens of thousands of Halmagyis. His was one of a few hundred families who survived the atrocities levelled at those of Jewish heritage during the Nazi march across Europe.

 

Joanna Griggs and Fast Ed Halmagyi  in Rockhampton.
Joanna Griggs and Fast Ed Halmagyi in Rockhampton. Lisa Benoit ROK

The chef said it was important to keep the Hungarian culture alive in his own children, especially as his father was an only child, his brother was not having kids and his sister took her husband's name when she married. Halmagyi also received his Hungarian citizenship earlier this year.

"My kids are the last ones carrying the family name so I thought it was important to maintain a sense of culture and connection to where we come from," he said.

"We eat a fair bit of Hungarian food and we try to stay a bit involved in the culture and language.

"It's really easy to lose it."

The TV stalwart also said he now considered himself a "grandfather" of the medium.

"These days I'll run into someone in their early, mid or even late 20s and they'll go 'oh, yeah, I used to watch your show when I was a kid'," he said.

One of his favourite memories from Better Homes and Gardens, now in its 24th season, was cooking fish in the sand heated by a volcano in New Zealand.

"Under the ground, it's 90 or 100 degrees. We went out on the lake, I had a fishing line, I caught a two-and-a-half kilo trout. I gutted it, scaled it, whacked some flavours on it, wrapped it up in foil and buried it in the sand on the beach.

"I came back two hours later and my fish was cooked. It was cooked by a volcano," he said.

 

The team from Better Homes and Gardens hold their Silver Logie for Most Popular Lifestyle Program at the 52nd Logie Awards in Melbourne, in 2010.
The team from Better Homes and Gardens hold their Silver Logie for Most Popular Lifestyle Program at the 52nd Logie Awards in Melbourne, in 2010. JOE CASTRO

Unknown to many Better Homes and Gardens viewers, Halmagyi is also a photographer and commercial photography is actually the mainstay of his business.

He has also spent countless hours creating and refining recipes. The chef said it was difficult for him to calculate the number of hours he had spent working on his latest recipe book.

"First iterations are often good, but not perfect and you're often spending quite a decent amount of time refining your content to meet your target goals of creating something that is delicious and simple while also being healthy and accessible, and using ingredients that people can readily access," he said.

"It's a slow process."


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