Food and fam­ily at the heart of travel

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

TV chef Ge­orge Calom­baris on new dis­cov­er­ies in Greece, know­ing enough Ital­ian not to get ripped off and be­ing fed a thou­sand-year-old egg by Poh Ling Yeow.

ROM cooking off the coast of Italy on fash­ion designer Valentino’s yacht, to eat­ing bar­be­cued chicken hearts on a side street in Jakarta, MasterChef’s Ge­orge Calom­baris says, “if you want to get into the veins of a city, for­get the Acrop­o­lis, and tuck into its food”.

If you had friends com­ing to visit you at your home in South Mel­bourne, what three lo­cal things would you in­sist they do?

GC: Cof­fee in the morn­ing at Top Pad­dock. A bowl of pasta at Thirty Eight Chairs and a mac­aron at Zum­bos. Gee, it’s all about food isn’t it?

Favourite place to hol­i­day in Australia?

CG: It would have to be down in the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, Vic­to­ria. It’s a very nos­tal­gic place for me – we grew up with a fam­ily beach house at Safety Beach. It’s only a 55-minute drive from the Mel­bourne CBD and just beau­ti­ful – the per­fect place to pot­ter about, drink cof­fee, eat and catch up on small talk with fam­ily.

Over­seas?

GC: It’s gonna have to be Greece. I’m for­tu­nate enough to go there ev­ery year and each time I’m there I make an in­cred­i­ble dis­cov­ery – some­thing new, some­thing dif­fer­ent. Mykonos is beau­ti­ful, it’s got a cer­tain en­ergy about it that’s re­ally lovely, Crete is an­other favourite but I can’t pick just one is­land or even the main­land, I love it all.

What are some of the best things you’ve eaten dur­ing travel?

GC: I think about the Fat Duck in Bray, eat­ing Pek­ing duck in Bei­jing, ro­jak in Kuala Lumpur, I think about eat­ing the most in­cred­i­ble cu­latello (cured ham) in Italy, schnitzel in Mu­nich, bal­samic in Mo­dena, the list goes on and on. Ev­ery­where has got some­thing beau­ti­ful, some­thing spe­cial.

What about the weird­est?

GC: I re­mem­ber Poh (Ling Yeow) try­ing to feed me a thousandyear-old egg in se­ries one of MasterChef. That was weird.

How does travel in­flu­ence your work?

GC: On a re­cent tour of Kuala Lumpur, Sin­ga­pore and Jakarta I was in­spired by a guy bar­be­cu­ing lit­tle chicken hearts on the side of the street. Then I thought to my­self how do I trans­fer this feel­ing and this ex­pe­ri­ence to my cus­tomers back home? At the heart of a lot of the travel I do is food and fam­ily. I’m al­ways think­ing about how I can share th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers.

Best place you’ve ever stayed?

GC: There are a few but one place I al­ways go back to is the Belvedere Ho­tel in Mykonos. It’s one of my favourite lit­tle hidey holes where I can just get away from the world and live a Mace­do­nian life for a bit.

How many lan­guages can you speak?

GC: Greek quite well and Ital­ian OK – enough to not get ripped off.

What des­ti­na­tions are on your wish list?

GC: I haven’t been to Spain so that’s on my hit list. I’m yet to ex­plore the north of Greece and there’s two things I love – food and foot­ball (soc­cer) so hope­fully Rus­sia for the next World Cup. In­ter­view by Chanel Par­ratt. MasterChef starts this week on Chan­nel 10.

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