scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Saturday, May 08, 2021

‘I’m constantly thrilled with the food I eat every time I visit India’: Chef Gary Mehigan

"I'm constantly discovering something new, which is what cooking and travelling is all about; discovering an unusual ingredient, a recipe, a new flavour, or technique is what makes Indian cuisines addictive. Sadly the rest of the world is slow in taking on the idea of regional Indian food"

Written by Shweta Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: April 23, 2021 6:25:44 pm
Gary Mehigan, Gary Mehigan Masterchef australia, chef Gary Mehigan, chef Gary Mehigan interview, Gary Mehigan instagram, chef Gary Mehigan dishes, Gary Mehigan indian food, Gary Mehigan indian expressGary Mehigan was a judge on MasterChef Australia for 12 years. (Photo: PR handout)

He was one of the three judges, or the ‘Three Musketeers’ on MasterChef Australia for 11 seasons. But like all good things, his stint on the show also came to an end. Gary Mehigan, however, continues to be remembered for his positive feedback, jovial nature and genuine advice to the home cooks on the cooking show. Though he shares he has not watched the show ever since he left it, he does agree he will be “inextricably linked to the show forever”.

In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, the well-known chef talks about his journey on the show, the pandemic, Indian food and what lies ahead.

Read on.

Your name is still synonymous with MasterChef Australia — how has life been after you parted ways with the show?

Just so everybody knows, it was time to change, time for something different, for something new. Life is certainly being different, though 2020 was unexpected and life-changing to some degree. I am sure many people would feel the same. I’ve been writing a book that has kept me busy, getting stuck into podcasting which I love and pitching numerous ideas to various production companies. I’ve also spent much more time doing some of the things that I always have seemed to have missed out on, having been so busy in the past.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gary Mehigan (@garymehigan)

How would you describe your 11 season-long association with the cooking show?

I’m sure I speak on behalf of Matt (Preston) and George (Calombaris), but all three of us were extremely lucky and blessed to be part of MasterChef Australia for such a long time. We also know that we are inextricably linked to the show forever, and people will probably always know us as The Three Musketeers or the three boys from MasterChef.

In what ways do you feel it helped shape your career?

I think what I’m most proud of in my time as a judge or MasterChef is how influential the show and we have been all around the world. Bringing food to life, encouraging amateur cooks to make their food dreams come true and offering positive feedback and genuine advice that has pushed many of the contestants on to bigger and better things.

Do you still watch the show and often end up imagining yourself to be on the set, giving feedback to the home cooks?

Eleven years is a long time to be doing anything, and although I’m very proud of my time on MasterChef, it was time to move on and do something different. I haven’t watched the show since leaving, which some people may find hard to believe. To be honest, for me, the thrill of being involved was always about the relationships we formed with the contestants. Being part of their growth as cooks during filming was extremely rewarding but more importantly, becoming friends and colleagues once they had left to follow food careers of their own made the whole experience very special.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gary Mehigan (@garymehigan)

The pandemic, which confined people to their homes and witnessed a surge in home-cooked foods, also gave rise to various trends like one-minute recipes, mug recipes, leftover recipes etc. What do you think about such trends, and do you feel they have a shelf-life?

I think the most important trend during the lockdown was a new appreciation of time spent with family, cooking at home and enjoying the simple things in life. Plus, such virtual events with Conosh allowed me to stay connected with my fans. I loved seeing all the wonderful photos and videos on Instagram of people reigniting or discovering their love of food made from scratch at home. Baking sourdough, making cheese, pasta, fermenting and pickling vegetables or making jam seemed to wind back the clock 30 years, to a time when the world seemed to be less frenetic and complicated. This is my second workshop with Conosh, so I am happy to see people are getting involved and trying different things. I have loved interacting with people on this platform, ranging from professional and amateur chefs to food enthusiasts and home cooks. It has been heartening to work with a community that thrives on the universal love and appreciation of food.

If you had to pick one MasterChef contestant and one dish you still remember after all these years — who/what would that be and why?

That’s a hard question to answer because there were so many delicious dishes on MasterChef over the years, but I still love Alvin Quah’s ‘Drunken Chicken’. It was simply delicious, jammed packed full of flavour and something I still make regularly at home, which surely is a sign of a great dish.

Indian cooking has always been an integral part of the MasterChef journey. Can you name one Indian dish prepared on the show that left behind a longing taste in your mouth?

Sandeep Pandit cooked a Masala Lobster which we described as probably one of the best dishes we had in 11 seasons of MasterChef from an Indian contestant. It seemed wonderfully simple, but the flavour of the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and hint of smoke made the rich masala sauce taste absolutely wonderful! We thought that maybe it was a little extravagant using lobster, but it was worth every mouthful….!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gary Mehigan (@garymehigan)

What is your take on Indian cuisine — in Australia and around the world?

I’ve said this many times before, but I’m constantly thrilled with the food I eat every time I visit India. The discovery of regional Indian flavours and cuisines has been a mind-boggling experience over my many visits. I’m constantly discovering something new, which is what cooking and travelling is all about, and discovering an unusual ingredient, a recipe, a new flavour, or technique is what makes Indian cuisines addictive. Sadly the rest of the world is slow in taking on the idea of regional Indian food. Still, things are changing with many great Indian chefs spreading the word, opening restaurants in some of our biggest and trendiest cities, and gaining international reputations for beautiful food. I have been fortunate enough to be able to communicate with my Indian audience through Conosh, which has, in many ways, made up for being unable to visit the country and interact with such a diverse group of food enthusiasts.

What is keeping you busy at the moment, and how does 2021 look for you?

I hate to say it, but I’ve enjoyed slowing down far more than I expected — more time to do the things I want at my own pace. I’m looking forward to my book coming out later this year, to continue to podcast and focus on my coffee brand. I have my fingers crossed that the world will begin to open up next year, and we can resume our travels. We have a few pitches in the works for food television of various kinds, but it’s far too early to talk about it yet. TV is a fickle beast, but I am sure we will be returning to your screens in one form or another soon. As of now, I am looking forward to my collaboration with my good friend and colleague George Calombaris and the Conosh community.

For more lifestyle news, follow us: Twitter: lifestyle_ie | FacebookIE Lifestyle | Instagram: ie_lifestyle

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
x