Time flies at IKEA, hours can be lost weaving through the displays and hunting down Swedish meatballs. Last week however, we had a different kind of experience with the meatballs, and that was front row seats to celebrity chef Matt Preston schooling us on how to incorporate them in our home cooking. We also got 5 minutes alone time to learn a little more about the charismatic chef.

Fave winter veg?

I’m obsessed with pumpkin at the moment. I love cauliflower, I love parsnip and I’m falling back in love with potatoes. I’ve been in an out of potato for about 20 years. I just did a masterclass on MasterChef about all the things you can do with pumpkin. From soup to puree, gnocchi, flatbread, Korean hot egg, pasta, the list goes on and on…

If you could only use one utensil for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Assuming we have a knife, my top 5 would be:

Silicon spatula

Microplane grater

Stick blender

Rice cooker

Julienne potato peeler

And, throw in a thermometer if you’re not a good cook. You can get all those for under $100 bucks and they will really make a difference.

If I could only use one, it would be the stick blender for aerating and foaming things like mayonnaise.

What is your winter warmer go-to?

Pumpkin soup with pureed apple to brighten it up.

Favourite place to eat in Canberra?

I don’t come often enough to Canberra, but 86 is great and i’m excited about what Ian Curly is going to do now that he has taken over Monster. Curls is an obsessively good cook, he will bring some strong bottom end stuff.

Is there a diplomatic way to critique food?

In the old days I was honest, I was writing a critique for the reader. I was a part of that gang and my job was to link readers with great experiences. Nowadays it’s not my role. On my Twitter I’ll post pictures of cool and fun venues that need accolades. In restaurants I follow the popularised Italian & Greek concept by English chef Fergus Henderson of nose to tail eating, which is to always say thanks, always say it’s great, and always tip.