Home Bangalore By George, a star chef!

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    Remember when MasterChef Australia’s George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan visited Bangalore a couple of years ago. Chef Abhijit Saha had hosted them for lunch and dinner, and they were mobbed throughout – by autograph hunters, adoring fans and foodies seeking new profile pictures with the culinary stars. George Clooney or Brad Pitt couldn’t have got a warmer reception.
    So it was with interest that I read about Calombaris’ latest visit to Bangalore, supported by Gold Rush Entertainment and Zomato. Tomorrow, he and the team from his flagship award-winning Melbourne restaurant The Press Club will cook a six-course lunch at JW Marriott for a few lucky invitees. There’s already a huge clamour for invites and details of the event are being kept strictly under wraps. Those who will be present might taste Calombaris’ modern Greek-accented specialties – from his version of Greek salad (in Melbourne he makes it with feta mousse, fresh and pickled vegetables, prosciutto crumb) to ouzo-cured ocean trout with smoked artichoke. Saganaki tortellini and salty caramel rice pudding might also feature – all depending on George’s final say-sos.
    But I’m sure it will be Calombaris himself who will be the cynosure of all eyes. Not surprising, considering India has just watched the latest season of MasterChef Australia, and George (and Gary) have firmly ensconced themselves as star chef favourites. One of the reasons, according to counsellor and image consultant Sama Adil is their approachability. Adil, who interacted with Calombaris during his previous visit in her role as Caperberry’s marketing executive says he was genuinely interested in knowing about Indian food, traditions and behind the scenes stuff, always warm and friendly with people he met. “Being Australian, he was familiar with Indian food. Even though the spicy gol gappa spherification he tasted at Caperberry made his bald head shine with sweat, he was game for trying everything!”
    Chef Surjan Singh Jolly, JW Marriott’s director Food and Beverage, who does his fair share of cooking-centred television shows, will also keenly watch George and his team in action. “Sure, there’s a kick from the recognition one gets as a star chef, but there’s pressure too, on what you bring to the table. A star chef must stay abreast of what’s happening food-wise and not lose touch with the ‘real’ world. Chefs are now regarded as craftsmen in a highly creative field – that’s what today’s generation sees – a cool, artistic profession.” His own favourite star chef is Rick Stein, who wanders the world in his jeep with his dog and cooks soul food in simple, rustic settings, something Jolly says he enjoys doing himself. “I love getting into my chef’s whites whenever possible.”
    Adds Adil, a big George and Gary fan herself, “India’s strong, versatile food culture creates a growing community of food lovers – it’s so integral to our lives. Chefs aren’t maharajas in the background any more. They’ve capitalised on this new interest and come into the foreground.”
    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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