Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Masterchef Australia’s George Calombaris Loses 20 Kilos, But Gary Stays Happily Prosperous

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

HOW does it feel when your television show co-host loses 20 kilos and you don’t shed a gram? Masterchef Australia co-host and judge Gary Mehigan talked about his futile battle to lose weight, although his television other half, George Calombaris, has shed 20 kilos by going on a no-alcohol, no-carb diet. “You should see him tasting food on the Masterchef sets,” Gary said with his usual warm and welcoming smile. “The cameraman keeps pleading with him, ‘George, I am not seeing what you are eating. Can you have a bigger portion?’ ”
Gary tried to go on a diet after shooting for Masterchef Australia Season 5, but he has evidently not been very successful. “If George had lost only 5 kilos, I could have tried harder, but I can’t do 20,” he said on the sidelines of a lunch masterminded by him and his executive chef, Dan Schwartz, at Celini, Grand Hyatt Mumbai’s Italian restaurant, for Tourism Victoria. Of course, his broad smile seemed to suggest that he’s not seriously ruing the fact that he hasn’t shed that much weight.
Gary Mehigan (left) now has a
prosperous gut, but his co-host
George Calombaris has shed
20 kilos (Image: Courtesy of
www.penguin.com.au)
Sharing his Delhi experience last year at our table, which I shared with the well-known publisher, Tariq Ansari of Mid-Day Multimedia, and Nitin Mongia, who runs the boutique hotel CCaza Commodore at Mandwa in fashionable Alibaug, Gary finally shed light on his absence from the side of George when the other half had gone to Chandni Chowk to sample the jalebas of Old & Famous. He had a bout of Delhi belly thanks to the gol gappas that he had a day before. “The coriander water just didn’t agree with me,” he recalled, even as he prepared to hit the streets of Mumbai and sample pav bhaji with NDTV’s Anisha Baig.
When Ansari insisted that Mumbai, like Melbourne, was the food capital of India, Gary couldn’t stop talking about Manish Mehrotra’s menu at Indian Accent. He was bowled over by the spicy tamarind-glazed spare ribs and the gorgonzola naan. He made sounds that expressed his feelings much better than words.
Earlier, speaking at a master class for journalists, who behaved more like fans than stuffy professionals, Gary spoke of his frustrating experience trying to get a paneer masala recipe from his followers on Twitter. Each recipe was so different that he decided to develop one of his own.
He even tried to get some recipes out of Jimmy Seervai, whom you may remember from Masterchef Australia Season 2 (2010), but he turned out to be an “eight curries kind of guy”. Australia is in dire need of a chef who can showcase the best of Indian cuisine and “make a killing”. Gary said Indian restaurants in Australia are still stuck at a time when the first wave of Indian immigration happened more than 30 years ago. “And we don’t know anything about South Indian cuisine,” he said. “Melbourne is a good place for good Indian chefs to go and make a killing.” Gary mentioned how Melbourne chef Adam DeSilva, after a visit to Mumbai a couple of years back for yet another Tourism Victoria event, launched an Indian fusion restaurant named Tonka and got rave reviews for his paani poori! I am sure a lot many of our chefs would jump at Gary’s offer and get Melbourne eating out of their hands.

My next blog post will have the story about the master class that Gary held for journalists.