Chef Greg Malouf on his jour­ney to the top of the game.

Restau­ra­teur, au­thor and trend­set­ter, chef Greg Malouf tells Mri­nal Shekar that evo­lu­tion is not a bad word af­ter all

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

I n al­most ev­ery in­ter­view, chef Greg Malouf calls his food ar­chi­tec­tural. An odd ad­jec­tive you think, as he doesn’t come across as ex­per­i­men­tal. He looks more like the portly grand­fa­ther next door whose in­ter­est in cooking is limited to fir­ing up the bar­be­cue at the week­end.

But Greg knows what he’s talk­ing about. In a ca­reer span­ning three decades, this Aus­tralian chef of Le­banese de­scent has cre­ated a reper­toire of Mid­dle Eastern dishes.

“When I say my food is ar­chi­tec­tural, what I mean is that it is a sky­scraper of com­plex flavours and var­ied tex­tures,” he says. “Although I think it’s im­por­tant to stay true to the her­itage or tra­di­tion of a dish, I’m not afraid of in­ter­pret­ing it in a more nu­anced or lay­ered way, or of pre­sent­ing it in a way that I find aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing.”

A bold state­ment, con­sid­er­ing it’s only re­cently that the re­gion’s culi­nary mas­ter­minds have be­gun to ac­cept change. “When I first started trans­lat­ing Mid­dle Eastern clas­sics into a con­tem­po­rary dining ex­pe­ri­ence, it was con­sid­ered al­most hereti­cal by tra­di­tional cooks – es­pe­cially in the Mid­dle East,” says Greg. “I could never have cooked that way in Le­banon, my home coun­try, for in­stance. Even my mum couldn’t un­der­stand why I’d want to ‘mess with tra­di­tion’.”

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Fri­day, 55-year-old Greg talks of his jour­ney to the top of the game, win­ning a Miche­lin star for Peter­sham Nurs­eries Café on the out­skirts of Rich­mond in the UK and sur­viv­ing two heart trans­plants.

While your par­ents are of Le­banese ori­gin, you were born and brought up in the sub­urbs of Mel­bourne. Did you ever face cul­tural dilem­mas?

My mother, May, was born in Le­banon and moved to Mel­bourne, while my fa­ther, Kevin, was born in Mel­bourne to Le­banese par­ents.

So while my mother, a homemaker, had a tra­di­tional ap­proach to cooking, my fa­ther, who en­joyed cooking the oc­ca­sional meal at home, loved to ex­per­i­ment. It is this har­mo­nious blend of mind­sets that I guess played

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.