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MasterChef George Calombaris' love for jalebis

MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris jokes about beating his co-judges in a competition and reveals why jalebis are his favourite Indian dessert

Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan of famous competitive cooking game show Masterchef Australia are easily the most-loved judges on television. Currently hosting the sixth season of the series, the trio, known for their effervescence and humility, mentors and encourages the contestants adeptly. Over a telephonic interview, Calombaris talks about his love for Indian food, his co-judges and losing 20 kg within a year:

George Calombaris, one of the three judges on MasterChef Australia season 6

Q. After judging five seasons of MasterChef Australia, what do you think of the quality of contestants in the latest season?
A. The quality of contestants keeps getting better and better every year. We have some amazing cooks who come with massive aspirations. They have come from all walks of life, different cultures and religions and that’s what makes this show special. Most importantly, they have amazing cooking ability, so it’s wonderful.

Q. In the last season, as well as this, you’ve had Indian contestants. Do you personally enjoy Indian food?
A. I love Indian food. After travelling through Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore last year, I was thoroughly impressed and excited by the originality of the food. I especially liked the deep fried squiggly doughnuts in sweet syrup. They are called jalebis, right? I loved them.

Q. If you were one of the three contestants on the show along with Matt and Gary, what would you cook to defeat them?
A. I’d beat them easily (laughs). That’s a tough one actually. In the show, you always play to your strengths. I’m classically trained in French cuisine. I make Greek food now, which is modern and technical. Matt is a simple cook, who likes cooking with three or four ingredients. Gary’s very classical in his approach. All I know is that after tasting three great dishes, the judge will be very full.

Q. Between the three of you, who’s the most difficult to impress?
A. All of us are difficult and easy to impress in equal measure. We know each other really well and are quite balanced. No one’s bigger than the other. At the end of the day, the food on the plate doesn’t lie. If I’m not good at tasting something, I let Matt and Gary do it.

Q. A few episodes ago, one of the contestants, Nicole, decided to use one whole snapper for one dish when she could have used it for three. You said that you admired her ballsiness. Does that sort of confidence appeal to you?
A. Yes, at the end of the day, it didn’t work out. But it shows determination and that’s what cooking is all about. Sometimes, you need to go out on a limb.

Q. What’s your food philosophy?
A. My food philosophy is very simple. Get the best produce possible and make it shine. Make it so interesting that one looks at it and says ‘wow’.

Q. You lost almost 20 kg last year. How have you managed to maintain it?
A. lot of exercise!

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