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Updated: October 30, 2013 19:02 IST

A visit from the master

Osama Jalali
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Master Chef Gary Mehigan and Chef Gopi. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan
The Hindu
Master Chef Gary Mehigan and Chef Gopi. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

Chef Gary Mehigan of Master Chef Australia fame was in the Capital recently

Master Chef Australia has been a huge boon for amateur chefs across the world. One of the reasons for the popularity of the show is its three judges — restaurateur and Chef Gary Mehigan, Chef George Colambaris and food critic Matt Preston. Out of the trio, Gary Mehigan was in India for another round of culinary adventures, as part of Australia’s cultural festival Oz Fest. “I am so excited to be returning to India for my third trip” said Gary. “The sights, sounds and tastes of India have stayed with me since my first trip to the saffron land last year as part of Oz Fest.”

Inspired by the lifestyle of his grandfather who was a chef, Gary arrived at his passions a bit late. “My father was my hero so I wanted to be an engineer but back home I used to see my grandfather making jams and breads and feeding people. He was much happier than my father was. So I changed my mind and enrolled into a culinary course,” he says. Gary’s first job was at butchery, and helped him to understand the meat cuts which enhances the taste in his dishes today as well.

I was impressed by Gary’s passion and respect for Indian food. Avoiding the lavish parties he opted to spend a day at Delhi’s famous spice market Khari Baoli. “I can just spend days and days at the spice market. It’s amazing to discover such fresh masalas. And not just the freshness there is so much diversity in spices.”

With his list in hand Gary got many spices packed for culinary experiments back home. Nice and humble, Gary said, “I am in love with Indian cuisine. It’s so rich and flavoursome. I would love to have Indian chefs in Australia and open an Indian restaurant. Once Indian cuisine is presented on international platform it will definitely do well. After Chinese, Spanish and Italian, Indian cuisine might be the next big thing in the food industry.”

Speaking on his favourite Indian ingredients, Gary said he loves the flavours of amchur, black salt and jaggery. A lot of Punjabi or North Indian food is being served in Australia but foods from South India such as appams and idlis are fantastic and yet to be explored.

On his preference as a chef or a judge, Gary said, “I am a good teacher so I would always like to be in the position of a judge or a mentor.”

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