Mercurio’s Menu is currently airing on SBS Network both as an on-demand channel and also running at various times throughout the day.
We shot the first series in 2008. Series one was a big hit for a little food TV program and on occasion rated over 1 000 000 viewers. I would often meet people in the street who told me they watched the show and then went out bought the ingredients and cooked the dish I had made on the show that day.
We went on to shoot 3 more series – series Two in 2009, Series Three in 2010 and series Four in 2011. We did start to shoot a fifth series but due to several unfortunate factors due to do with funding and network costs we were unable to continue. Still, four series – 52 episodes of my very own TV show is a great accomplishment not to mention a great honour and I am very grateful to the production company WTFN for believing in me and making the show and of course to our loyal viewers.
I think there were a couple of factors that made this show very enjoyable to watch – aside from the great production values – the show was about the producers, farmers, artisanal makers and bakers, the people who through their passion, dedication, and creativity brought such amazing produce to us. Their stories, seeing a bit about their lives, the ups, and downs and then using their produce to cook with took the viewer on a wonderful intimate journey through not just Australia’s foodie landscape but also New Zealand and Kenya.
Of course, it all helps if we have fun doing it and we did. We were a small crew out on the road filming, we worked hard but we had fun. The fact that we had fun making the show certainly came across in the show – yes I was a bit silly at times but I must say I do enjoy making people smile and even better have a laugh. People have stopped me in the supermarket to tell me how on a Saturday or Sunday they would race home from where ever they were, get a glass of wine, some cheese and biscuits and sit down and watch the show have a laugh, learn a bit and vicariously travel around the country with us.
I think another element about the show that was important was that I am not a professional chef but just a bloke that loves to cook. Thereby the audience wasn’t being told how they should cook but to some extent learning and having a laugh at me as I was learning about food, ingredient combinations and having a go!
My producer was always hoping I would burn something, stuff something up or even set fire to a restaurant but sadly I didn’t give him the satisfaction – although I may have overcooked my Sichuan pancakes a little - however I didn’t put up a dish that was inedible.
All in all, I cooked around 110 dishes most of which I made up or made or my version of famous dishes like Bouillabaisse and occasionally stole one of my wife’s dishes and claimed it as my own.
I must say I was very proud and still am in fact when my producer rang me to talk about cooking for a particular episode in W.A. He said: “Merc, you’ve got lamb and bananas….what are you going to cook?” If you want to know then you will have to watch series four – “Coral Coast Episode”
You can buy Mercurio’s Menu the cookbook here on my site. It covers most of the recipes from series one and two and also includes some of the professional chefs’ recipes they cooked. If you would like a recipe that you have seen in series 3 or 4 then please email me and I will send it out to you. That said a lot of the recipes from the last two series are in my other books Cooking with Beer and Kitchen Mojo.
Of course, if you buy any of my books I will sign them for you. Thanks to everyone that have told me how much they have enjoyed Mercurio’s Menu, there is a big team behind it and we all loved making it and bringing it to you. I would love to do some more….watch this space.