Chef George Calombaris talks about the experience in “MasterChef Australia”, the new season and what he takes back from the show
Chef George Calombaris is best known for “MasterChef Australia”, on which he is a judge along with Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston. Although the popular competitive cooking show is what has made him such a recogniszable face, he's also one of Australia's most influential chefs. Of his seven restaurants, the best known is Press Club, in Melbourne, which features modern Greek food. Excerpts from an e-mail interview with the chef.
1) In the rapidly expanding, and competitive world of food shows, ‘MasterChef Australia' stands out. Home cooks are becoming more adventurous. Culinary schools say it's inspiring more people to become professional chefs. Did you expect this kind of a response when you made your debut?
No, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was I wanted to be part of a culinary show that changed the way people thought about food. I wanted to be part of a positive show that helped people change their lives and to make their dreams real.
2) With seven restaurants, including the popular Press Club, you're already a well-established chef in Australia. Has the show influenced how you cook?
I have my own style and I am constantly learning and being inspired. MasterChef has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing chefs in the world and taste some amazing food. I am impressed by people just giving it a go.
Did you grow up wanting to be a chef? You're best known for your Greek food, but what would you cook if you are having a relaxed evening at home?
I always wanted to be a chef; I was born a cook and I will die one. Yes, Greek is what I do. I have been classically trained, but I use modern techniques and ideas to recreate my heritage. When I am relaxing, I love the simple things such as spaghetti bolognaise, but it must be good and home made.
4) Season 3 was criticised zed for featuring food that was too complex, too challenging. What kind of cooking can we expect to see in on Season 4?
Season 3 for me was amazing. It was to help contestants to aspire to something big and it really drove the contestants each day. Season 4 has lots of simple challenges and real people that have a love for food. We don't care if they just want to open up a sausage shop after this, but we want them to be able to open up the best one.
5) According to the Australian press, this season is about real food, real people and their stories. Compelling contestants are a large reason why ‘MasterChef' is so popular. What are you looking for when you make your first shortlist of 50?
We want nice people that respect and have a real love for food. They must have a palate and have a story. They must have soul and a true desire to live a life in food. I want to know ‘Why?' We want the best person to win.
6) Did India's enthusiastic response to ‘MasterChef Australia' surprise you? Are we likely to see more Indian contestants or Indian food? Do you see yourself judging an Indian, or Asian, ‘MasterChef' eventually?
I love the fact that India loves Australian MasterChef. I can't give too much away, but all I can say is you never know. Gary, Matt and George might one day come to India…
(Masterchef Australia launches on June 14 June. Watch it from Monday to Friday at 9 p.m. on STAR World)
Keywords: MasterChef Australia