From TAFE Student to Media Chef

04/02/19 — Gemma McManus

Phil Strasser is a Sydney chef. He has his own sauce range, his own cookbook, works as a trainer and has appeared on Channel 7’s The Morning Show. He also dabbles in making YouTube videos.

Being a user of Didasko resources when he was a student, Phil graciously agreed to do a phone interview with me so that I could investigate the transition from training to becoming an author and media chef.

As soon as the interview begins, it’s easy to see that Phil is a down to earth kind of guy. For some reason he reminds me of one of my friends; he comes across on the phone as friendly and sweet but also a bit of a jokester. When Phil learns that I’ve studied Marketing, he is quick to ask me about it.

“...I don’t know much about social media Marketing, but I want and need to do it. Someone like you would be in high demand, it’s so helpful”.

His interest is the first clue that Phil is a passionate teacher/trainer. Another clue is that he appreciates my questions.

‘Yeah that’s a good question. That is a good question”.

I start the interview by asking some broad questions.

Phil Strasser

What made you decide to train as a chef?

“My story is quite different. It’s different because I started in Hotel Management and then I came back to get qualified as a chef.”

“Why I chose to be a chef? Well as a kid I cooked with my mum. We cooked for the family together. I was pretty close to mum, and my grandmother - her mother. I guess we had a lot in common then. Whenever we were talking, it would be about food. From an early age it was food and it was the relationship between my mum and my grandmother. And I’ve just grown to appreciate and really love cooking food. Particularly, the art of cooking meat. The flavours and smells. It’s a way of making people happy. Or giving value to people. That’s how I can give value to people. Make them happy by feeding them”.

Loving to feed people doesn’t mean that you’ll go straight to writing cookbooks or creating sauce lines. It is the combination of Phil’s passion and other elements in his life which has led to his success.


Where do you get your creative inspiration?

“I get a lot from books and YouTube. Is YouTube good? It’s more of a passion to what other chefs do. Not only do you learn from them but their passion that goes into it is inspirational. That encourages me to follow what their tips are”.


Do you have a favourite YouTube chef that you watch?

“Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver are my favourites. Gordon Ramsay because he’s straight to the point. He doesn’t waste any words and what he says is really valuable. He knocks it over in a very short period of time. Jamie Oliver is different. He may not knock it over quickly and he’s maybe not that economic … but he’s passionate, making it look so easy. Many times, he just puts a different angle to it or just does things that you wouldn’t think to do. Just simple things, he shows it in such a simple way.”

Knowing that Phil enjoys watching YouTube explains his own YouTube channel, as well as an online presence through his websites.


Do you have a special kitchen set-up or anything that might differ from a home cook?

“...No, not really. Well yes, I am very attached to my knives. I do rely on my knife set. I’m attached to my fry pan. My non-stick. And I do cook on my stove. I’d take my portable gas stove, I’d rather not rely on someone else's stovetop. Just in case- every stove top is different”.


About Phil’s cookbook

Phil’s self-published cookbook titled “YOUR MEAT MATE - Cooking Red Meat to Perfection” is something that everyone should consult before going to the butcher. The book acts as a manual on selecting a cut of meat and then goes through the best cooking methods for that cut. The book also aims to show that the expensive cuts are not the only ones that can be transformed into delicious dishes. This is a book for meat lovers who are interested in saving some money while preparing great dishes.

Why did you write a cookbook? Why write about meat?

“I teach part-time as well. I teach red meat. I’m feeling very humble because after each class students would say ‘that was great, thank you, that was really valuable’, because I made sure that the content was helpful in cooking meat. And then one day I said to myself, ‘well, do it’. If they’re grateful for that, I’ll look at what I’m teaching them and maybe I can put it in the form of a book… and reach more people. Maybe not directly, I may not be able to teach them directly but through my book I’ll be able to reach them”.

Meat Mate

“I love red meat” he laughs, “I love eating meat. I eat a lot of it. I’m not overweight really, I’m only about 63 kilos, I’m really light. But I eat more than I think. A lot of its red meat, I like the fact that you can pick up a piece of raw meat… and if you know what to do with it, one can do a really great job with it, not burn it or make it dry. That’s a shame, when you have such a beautiful piece to start with”.


Can you tell me more about the part of your book that deals with cooking goat?

“I’ll be honest, the editor pushed me to write about that. I did, so I tasted it and worked on it. It’s a game meat, it’s an acquired taste. I enjoyed the chance of having it, but I haven’t had it since. It is a game meat, so you have to be used to that game flavour. It’s incredibly tough but when you cook it down, as shown in the book, I put a lot into the braising methods, when you braise it properly it is so tender - so flavourful, so moist and so tender”.


About The Morning Show

You can view Phil’s November appearance on the show which has been uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. The clip’s description states ‘Author and chef Phil Strasser has committed his life to perfecting the art of cooking meat, and he's showing us how to cook the perfect skirt steak! 😋’. Phil says that he only made it onto the show because of a connection at Channel 7. However, it does feel as though Phil’s selling himself short, as it was through his book that was able to get the producer’s attention.

Meat Mate

You appeared on The Morning Show?

“Yes! I did on the 12th November and I’ll be back down in February and April. Which I’m really humble and grateful for. - I’ll be talking about different segments of the book. Different things about cooking meat. The idea is at the end of my segment viewers will come away with something valuable that they can apply when cooking meat”.


How did they reach out to you?

“I was lucky. I’ve got a friend whose husband works for Channel 7. And he just gave the book to them. I don't think I would’ve otherwise got in. And they were good enough to call me and invite me on the show in November. A week or two later they asked me to come back! I was really honoured by that”.


Were you nervous?

“Oh yeah I was. I’d never been on TV before. I was really nervous. And I think I’ll be nervous again. Knowing that you’re talking but chances are there’s tens of thousands of people watching you all over the country. I got a lot of calls after that, just people asking me questions”.


Really?

“Yeah, just people all over the country asking, ‘are you the bloke on TV?”


About Phil

Phil is a producer of sauces, salad dressings and marinades which he sells to food retailers. He has also operated a takeaway salad bar in North Sydney.

Phil sauce

Phil’s Sauces available at Doughboy NSW Pizza stores

  • Smokey Barbeque Sauce
  • Peri Peri Sauce
  • Cajun Sauce
  • Moroccan Angel Dressing - Spice
  • Moroccan Angel Dressing - Original
  • Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

Cooking tips: http://www.philbysfinefoods.com.au/cooking_with_phil

The cookbook: https://yourmeatmate.com/

When studying the Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, Phil was enrolled into the Didasko online platform through TAFE NSW Ultimo in Sydney.

Happy New Year from our team at Didasko. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, feel free to contact me at gemma.mcmanus@didasko.com.