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Much before MasterChef Australia made celebrities out of them, Gary Mehigan, 45 and George Calombaris, 33, were already highly successful chefs with award-winning restaurants like The Press Club and Fenix in Melbourne to their names.
Much before MasterChef Australia made celebrities out of them, Gary Mehigan, 45 and George Calombaris, 33, were already highly successful chefs with award-winning restaurants like The Press Club and Fenix in Melbourne to their names. In this interview with Shantanu David, the two, who were in the country as ambassadors for the Oz Fest, the ongoing cultural event organised by the Australian government, talk about the "food bubble" they live in and the relationships forged during the show. Excerpts:
Do you have a life apart from food?
Gary Mehigan:We pretty much live in a food bubble. I like to go biking when I am not cooking, but even then I invariably end up at a restaurant or a new cafe that I have heard about. I guess I am forever thinking about food.
Gary Calombaris:There's so much happening in the kitchen and in my head; it takes up all my time. Food is a lot about who you are and where you want to go. It's an emotional relationship.
The two of you and Matt Preston have great onscreen chemistry. How well do you know each other off TV?
Mehigan:George and I go back a long way as we have worked together. Matt, of course, is one of Australia's top food critics, so he has been driving us up the wall for years (laughs).
Does Matt cook?
Calombaris:Matt is actually a great cook. We have this annual cook-out back home, where all the food critics come and cook and the chefs get together and judge their food. Matt pretty much wins it every year. He's also a bit of a walking encyclopaedia. You can ask him about something as esoteric as ancient Vedic cooking and he'll give you its history — from its evolution to its role in modern Indian cooking. He has a book coming out soon and Gary and I cannot wait to rip it apart (laughs).