If you are already having withdrawal symptoms following the conclusion of MasterChef Australia, then we have good news for you. MasterChef judge, Gary Mehigan, returns to your drawing room (on television at least) in his latest show Far Flung. Not just a cookery show, this one sees Mehigan set off on a six-part culinary road trip across Asia combining his twin passions: food and fast bikes. With two episodes in India, and the rest in Vietnam, Laos, South Korea and Hong Kong, he explores the entire south of Asia. He tells us more about his sojourn, which includes a visit to the Enfield factory in Chennai.
Starting in India. What exactly is Far Flung?
It is more than cooking; it’s a pleasure to meet new people and try new things, combined with my need for speed of the two-wheeled variety. The show gave me a chance to try different cuisines. It is for rev heads who love food and travel bikes which add an element of adventure.
I grew up in the UK, eating lots of Indian food. But coming to India, I realised how one-dimensional the Indian food being offered in the UK was. What’s always fascinated me about Indian dishes and recipes is that they are different to my classic French training. I was also impressed by the freshness and variety of the spices, salts, fruits and nuts in the Old Delhi market.
Was it an eye-opener then?
I’ve learnt that there is no such thing as “Indian cuisine” but many glorious regional cuisines all wrapped up in this vast multi-dimensional country. Simple dishes born out of necessity are often the best – idli, appam, curds, the clever use of spices, some so unusual most of the world has never seen them! India’s culinary job is to take this to the world…we are waiting!
How’ve you blended two passions?
I am the ultimate food tourist, and so I don’t go looking for monuments and cathedrals. I would rather discover restaurants, markets, and local food producers. A great way to see a city is on the bike. It makes me feel like a local and gets me to places I might not normally visit. Both are also great conversation starters. It is so easy to meet people when you have either food or motorbikes to talk about.
More on the Royal Enfield factory?
The factory is incredible. So clean, organised and efficient. The gentleman hand-painting the decals on the petrol tanks blew me away. Just brilliant and fascinating.
Most appealing culinary experience.
Kerala is high on the list, because I love the lightness of the flavours down South. In India, it was hard to narrow it down to a few places, but it has given me a reason to go back and see Munnar in Kerala, Jaipur in Rajasthan and maybe North Sikkim in the Himalayas. But heat was challenging at times. And the traffic. I was late a lot!
Your last meal on Earth would be…
It would be whole-roasted chicken with crispy roasted potatoes, simple but heart warming.
Premiers August 15,
at 9 pm, on Fox Life.
— Aakanksha Devi