Who Do You Think You Are returns to SBS for a new season on June 21. Eight prominent Australians will delve into their ancestral pasts, including actor Simon Baker, TV host Myf Warhurst and celebrity chef-slash-restaurateur Matt Moran. For Moran, getting to lift the lid on his family history was a thrilling opportunity – especially as some “absolute doozies” about his ancestors were revealed in the process.
“I absolutely loved it,” he tells Guardian Australia. “It was just a fantastic experience. I became very invested in it. Finding out some of the things about what my relatives went through and what they endured was pretty full on.”
While Moran isn’t allowed to talk about everything the show discovered just yet, he can say that it unearthed a lot of surprising history between his family and the small New South Wales town of Rockley. That felt like an “uncanny” coincidence to Moran, as he bought a pub there only last year.
His line of work means that Moran considers a certain kitchen tool his most useful object. Here, the longtime chef tells us about the knives he couldn’t live without, as well as the story behind a couple of prized collections.
What I’d save from my house in a fire
Back in the day when I was more frivolous I went a bit nuts and built a collection of watches, so I’d have to take those. I’ve got about half a dozen and I found them over probably 20 years – that’s how long I’ve been collecting them.
Watchmakers often make very limited amounts, and each one is numbered. So there’s a Jaeger LeCoultre watch they made only 200 of in the world – and I’ve got number nine. I’ve got a Panerai that they only made 500 of and, again, mine is number nine. I have a very rare IWC of which there’s only 100 of in the world. For that one I couldn’t get number nine, but I got number 69. Six turned upside down is obviously a nine. And not only that, it’s also the year that I was born.
The other thing I have quite a lot of is motorbikes and they’re all limited editions as well – but they’re all number 299. Because my theory was: what’s better than one nine? Two nines. Nine’s my favorite number, but 299 was also the address of my grandmother’s house when I was growing up. So I have all these weird things with nines.
My most useful object
I’m a cook so it has to be a knife, doesn’t it? I’ve built a collection of literally hundreds of knives over the years but there’s three very special Japanese ones that I use a lot. One of them is a carving knife. One is a multi-use chef’s knife. And one is a filleting knife. They’re from the best knife place I’ve ever found – the knife shop at the Tsukiji fish markets in Tokyo.
They were all very expensive but I’ve had some of my knives for 30 years. It’s always important to have a very sharp knife. It’s the opposite to what people think – the sharper the knife is, the less chance of actually having an accident because you don’t have to use as much pressure when you chop.
The item I most regret losing
I’ve never really lost any sentimental objects. I’ve never lost a watch. Never even lost a jacket. I had a bunch of bike helmets stolen once – that’s about it.
But I lost my wallet last week and it’s such a pain in the ass. You’ve got to get everything redone – your license, your credit cards, your debit card. No one carries cash any more, so I’m not worried about that. I’m the sort of guy that usually always puts things in the right place, but I have no idea where this went, so it hurts.