HE is My Kitchen Rules's tough shooter but there's more to Colin Fassnidge than meets the eye.
Viewers will get to know the man behind the scorecard in a new two-part travel special in which the Sydney-based chef returns to his Irish roots. In My Ireland With Colin, the father-of-two catches up with his family in Dublin before travelling around the Emerald Isle to cook with local produce.
Fassnidge is keen to show his softer side after three years on screen as a reality show judge.
"The first two years I signed with Channel 7 (for My Kitchen Rules) it was a different ball game then," he told Weekend.
"I had a smaller role and I didn't have time to say a lot. I came across as this person who's harsh and I'm not actually like that. When I signed on for a third year I said 'you need to show a bit more who I am'."
The 41-year-old featured in his own "secret" instant restaurant round and has been a more regular fill-in for hosts Manu Feildel and Pete Evans.
"Manu and Pete are like big brothers (on set)," he said. "You don't just suddenly jump on TV and know everything. They've been a great help."
But even with his expanded role on the high-rating show, there has been little time for Fassnidge's wicked sense of humour.
My Ireland With Colin reveals everything from childhood photos to his teenage ambitions of being a rock star (he played drums in a band called Medicine Man), a zoo keeper and a chef.
He has discovered fame as a celebrity chef on the nation's top-rating TV show certainly has rock-star like benefits, and pitfalls.
"TV is great but it's also very short-lived," he said.
"I think it's like bands. You do a record or a single or something and then you go tour it. That's exactly like MKR. We're on a tour and when it stops, it's the x-factor thing, they (viewers) will move on and you get forgotten about pretty quickly. If you need TV to stroke to your ego then you're in a lot of trouble."
Fassnidge, who moved to Australia 15 years ago, said it was emotional to travel across his homeland.
"I got to travel to places I'd never been and you just realise what you left behind, it was pretty emotional," he said.
Fassnidge meets some of the growers who have helped Ireland earn its reputation as the organic food bowl of Europe, cooking with everything from apples and honey to snails and Atlantic sea spray lamb.
My Ireland With Colin airs Wednesday and Thursday on Channel 7.
Apple tarte tatin
- 200g butter
- 200g sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise
- 2 vanilla beans
- 4 apples
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- pouring cream to serve
Caramel: Heat sugar and water, enough to cover, on high heat in a saucepan. When it starts to caramelise add butter and stir, then add star anise and cinnamon to infuse.
Tarte: Assemble sliced apple pieces on a rectangular piece of puff pastry, leaving space around the edges for the pastry to form a crust. Sprinkle apples with sugar and bake until golden brown. Then add caramel and cream, with vanilla, to serve.
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