Masterchef Australia on why his country needs a cracking Indian chef
George Calombaris speaks to us over the phone from Sydney as Season 9 gets underway, and tells us why it's important for everyone to do what they love. Edited excerpts from the interview.
We have all been addicted to Masterchef Australia at some point. Other than the luscious fare that's stirred up in the kitchen, it is judges — chefs George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and food critic Matt Preston — who keep the charm of the reality show up. Calombaris has had quite a year. He has been up in arms about British chef Gordon Ramsay (of Hell's Kitchen fame) joining the show, and even got into trouble earlier this year for striking a foul-mouthed fan.
Calombaris speaks to us over the phone from Sydney as Season 9 gets underway, and tells us why it's important for everyone to do what they love. Edited excerpts from the interview.
With Sachin Tendulkar at a special dinner hosted by Colombaris in Mumbai in September
What keeps you going from one season to another? Doesn't it get monotonous?
I am the only one who can make it monotonous. And it's my job, along with Matt and Gary, to keep it fresh, diverse and exciting. The good thing is that we get new stories every year. I am in the business of people, and I love people's stories. I feel the same way I felt when I shot Season 1, so it's going good.
This year has been hard, and you almost decided to quit the show. What has the year taught you about coping with unpleasant situations?
I think it's important to remember where you came from. Life has its ups and downs. We surround ourselves with good people — who are there for you not just in the good times, but also in the bad. When you are close to the sun, you are going to get burnt. It's okay, it shows you how strong you are, how much belief you have in yourself and what you do.
How does your job help you cope with life in general?
I don't have a job. I never had a job. What I do is my life. When something means so much, you get through the rough patches. A lot of people struggle at what to do, since they are doing things they don't love.
In the food world, where do you see Australia stand, and what do you think of the Indian food scene?
Australia was a place where people need to travel to the world to eat good food. Now, we have the best restaurants, and best chefs. In terms of Indian chefs, we have some good ones but nothing compared to what India has. I have eaten some cracking food in India, and I wish we could get some great regional Indian food in Australia. There is so much more to Indian food than curry.
What plans do you have for 2018?
I have opened three more venues, and am opening another one this week. There is lots going on, and it never let's me forget that I am a chef and cook first. This year was awesome as well, especially when I heard Sachin Tendulkar wanted to come to my dinner!
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