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‘Our perception of Indian cuisine is definitely not a curry; it’s diverse, thoughtful, delicious’: Chef George Calombaris

"I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to India many times now and been presented with opportunities to taste many local specialties. So really, I can’t wait to get back to India," Calombaris said

Written by Shweta Sharma | New Delhi |
May 21, 2021 12:30:49 pm
George Calombaris, George Calombaris interview, George Calombaris masterchef australia, George Calombaris photos, George Calombaris dishes, who is George Calombaris, George Calombaris restaurantGeorge Calombaris headlined MasterChef Australia for 12 years.(Photo: PR handout)

It would indeed not be wrong to say chef George Calombaris’ name is synonymous with MasterChef Australia, which he headlined for 12 long years along with food critic Matt Preston and chef Gary Mehigan. And while his association with the hugely popular cooking show may have come to an end, he says he is pleased with its continued success.

In an exclusive email interaction with indianexpress.com, the Australian chef and restaurateur talks about the show, the effect of the pandemic on the food industry, his love for Indian cuisine, and also reveals why he looks forward to travelling to Kerala.

Read on.

It’s been two seasons since you’ve parted ways with MasterChef Australia — how has life been since then?

MasterChef was an extraordinary 12 years of our lives, and all good things must come to an end. We’re so pleased its success continues. I’ve since been enjoying a beautiful time with my family and looking towards the future.

 

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A post shared by George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)

Would you, in any way, credit the show for your success? If yes, in what ways?

The show is made up of incredible talent everywhere. Over 100 team members create MasterChef, behind the scenes, plus amazing contestants, producers, camera operators… the list continues! We were simply the facilitators. Without the incredible team, there isn’t a show, and all credit goes to them.

What is the one thing you miss most about the MasterChef kitchen?

The team! Working with individuals who are absolutely elite at what they do and also being able to influence the next culinary stars.

 

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A post shared by George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)

The pandemic affected the food industry in a huge way — how did it impact you, both personally and professionally?

Personally, it’s been a massive moment of reset and, for the first time in my life, an opportunity to spend quality time with my family. At the end of the day, they’re everything that matters to me. Professionally, it’s a challenge to sit back and watch what’s happening to my industry at the moment. I know we will all be back stronger, better, wiser, and most importantly, providing people incredible experiences and bringing joy and happiness to their lives.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to meet some of my Indian fans and followers, thanks to this workshop organised by Conosh. I feel that workshops such as this one and the passionate food communities behind them are the future of the food industry. I am grateful to be a part of this worldwide culinary awakening.

The last couple of years have been tough for you — how does 2021 look?

I’ve had the most amazing career so far, with wonderful highs and, at times, some tough moments. However, that’s what flying close to the sun is all about. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve now had 12 months to place my feet firmly on the ground and my mind and soul back in the clouds in preparation for GC 2.0.

 

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A post shared by George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)

You have visited India and also enjoy Indian food. But is there one Indian dish you really wish to try?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to India many times now and been presented with opportunities to taste many local specialties. The lovely thing about all of my visits is I’m always discovering something new. So really, the answer is, I can’t wait to get back to India!

What is the best thing about Indian cooking/cuisine?

Indian cuisine, for me, is very regional. North, south, east, west — it all changes. Our perception of Indian cuisine is definitely not a curry. It’s diverse, intelligent, thoughtful, and bl**dy delicious.

What do you anticipate the new normal to be for the food industry post the pandemic?

COVID already has and will continue to change the global landscape of hospitality. This is where the strong will get stronger, adapt, change and hopefully bring back the love into the industry that it deserves. And virtual events like these organised by Conosh have allowed us to stay in touch with our community, especially since travel is not possible right now. I also see these virtual events as a part of the new normal. But like everyone else, I hope to travel again in a safe world, meet my loving audience from India and create some fantastic food and lasting memories with them.

 

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A post shared by George Calombaris (@gcalombaris)

Do you wish to visit India anytime soon? Which places do you long to visit and try food from in the country?

As soon as we can travel! I would love to visit Kerala. It looks stunning, and I’ve heard many great things.

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