Australia's first celebrity chef is also an artist

Peter Russell-Clarke is best known as one of Australia's first celebrity chefs, but did you know he's been painting for a lot longer than his time in the kitchen?

This week his food and wind-themed exhibition opens in Cheltenham in Melbourne.

"Not wind made by the food, but musical instruments," he said.

The 82-year-old recalled his first encounter with art while sitting in a highchair and using baby food to paint the walls.

"My mother who was an intelligent young mother realised that there was some art there," he said.

"She encouraged me to mix spinach with this farex just to put a bit of texture and colour with it and I've sort of being going on the same sort of way ever since."

Russell-Clarke has worked for around 65 years as a commercial artist, having spent 10 years as the political cartoonist for the Melbourne Herald.

"But all the time I painted, I also wrote and when television started in Australia I was writing a lot of stuff for that.

"I realised that no-one was writing anything about food."

It was during the mid-1980s that Russell-Clarke started writing a television program about food for the ABC.

"I realised that the bloke in front of the camera got more applause than the person who wrote it, so I wrote myself into the series and I became known as a cook rather than a painter or a writer."

For nine years Russell-Clarke donned a neckerchief and hosted one of Australia's most popular cooking shows, Come And Get It With Peter Russell-Clarke.

But the writer, presenter and artist claims there are many similarities between painting and cooking.

"I consider painting and cooking to be the same because you use colour, form, texture, shape in cooking — and so it's the same as painting to me," he said.

And with his latest exhibition just opened, Russell-Clarke said he believed painting was more than paint on canvas.

"I paint with a lot of raw colours but I also try to make the painting tell a story, so I'm not just interested in putting paint on canvas, I'm interested in the painting being part of someone's life."

The exhibition runs until April 16.