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Childhood flavours will rule the food industry: MasterChef

You’ve used all the right ingredients, taken the right measures, and followed the instructions to the T, yet the dish doesn’t taste as perfect! Does it happen to you often?

india Updated: Jun 22, 2012 01:06 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh
Hindustan Times

You’ve used all the right ingredients, taken the right measures, and followed the instructions to the T, yet the dish doesn’t taste as perfect! Does it happen to you often?

Well, Australian-Greek chef and restaurateur George Calombaris tells you what could possibly be going wrong. “Not tasting a dish while preparing, from start to finish, can spoil the taste completely even if the ingredients and the recipe are perfect. Ingredients change with each process and it’s the chef’s job and passion to keep tasting,” says Calombaris, who is currently hosting MasterChef Australia on Star World.

The 33-year-old, who’s quite a hit with girls for his witty lines and twinkling eyes, is in fact a tough task master, who settles for nothing less than perfection when it comes to good food. “Good food must first and foremost taste amazing. It’s also about the time, the place, the occasion and the company.

All these must align for food to taste good,” says the chef, who loves to dig into a ham and pineapple pizza for an instant mood lift. Calombaris, whose passion for cooking comes from his mom and grandmother, whom he regards as the world’s best cooks, was bred in Melbourne (Australia) but the centre of his early culinary learning was his Greek heritage.

No wonder, most of his creations have a pleasant Greek influence. So what’s the best dish that he’s whipped up recently? “Crispy pigs nipples, smoked milk pomme puree, milk powder, onions and apples,” says Calombaris, who was awarded the Young Chef of the Year, when he was barely 26. And finally, even as Calombaris shares two of his favourite recipes, he says that it’s childhood flavours in food that will rule the food industry, this year.

“Foraging and local is all the talk which is great but so is childhood flavours re-interpreted. That’s going to be the biggest trend in food this year,”
he says.

All about george calombaris

Owner of: The Press Club Restaurant and Bar, Maha Bar and Grill, Hellenic Republic, St Katherine’s

Cook books: The Press Club, Hellenic Republic: Greek Cooking from The Hellenic Heart, Your Place or Mine

Awards: Young Chef of the Year, voted in list of Top 40 chefs of influence

300gm honey
300gm water
300gm caster sugar
2 cinnamon quills
1 orange, zested
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
150gm pistachio nuts, chopped into small pieces
350gm walnuts, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp semolina
1 tsp salt
300ml extra virgin olive oil
14 sheets filo pastry
Cloves for studding


Place honey, water, sugar, cinnamon quills, orange zest and vanilla into a saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes before straining and chilling. Combine pistachios, walnuts, semolina and cinnamon and mix well. Brush a baking dish (350 x 250 mm) with olive oil and lay down 7 sheets of filo pastry, brushing between each layer. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of nut mixture, top with pastry sheet, brush with olive oil. Repeat this process until all the mixture is used up, ensuring that you press between each layer to keep an even surface. Top with remaining pastry sheets, brushing between each layer. Allow to set in fridge. Cut baklava into 12 pieces and insert a clove in the centre of each piece. Bake at 170° until golden brown and pour cold syrup straight over the hot baklava so it penetrates. Leave to cool at room temperature.

1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp lemon thyme, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
300gm lamb mince
100gm pork mince
100gm veal mince
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cinnamon quills
250gm crushed tomatoes
Salt, to taste
2 eggplants, sliced 1 cm thick
3 medium-sized potatoes, 1 cm thick
100gm butter
100gm flour
3 eggs, beaten
100gm grated keflagraviera cheese
600ml milk

Saute diced onion, garlic, lemon thyme and rosemary until soft.
Add tomato paste, cinnamon quills and crushed tomatoes and reduce to a low heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Season to taste. Brush eggplant and potatoes with olive oil and either grill on barbeque or pan fry until tender.
Melt butter in a heavy based saucepan. Add flour, stir on a low heat for 2 minutes. Slowly add warm milk, continuously stirring until thick. Cover with a lid and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk in beaten eggs and kefalograviera cheese, season to taste. To assemble: Oil casserole dish and lay eggplant over bottom. Then add a layer of meat sauce. Arrange
potato slices over meat sauce, then cover with béchamel.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 200°C until golden brown and béchamel has set.

First Published: Jun 21, 2012 17:43 IST