Current Issue #488

George Calombaris: Food is life

George Calombaris: Food is life

Famed Melbourne Chef George Calombaris will be a guest of Adelaide’s Good Food & Wine Show to present The Tree of Life.

This is not a one-man performance of the Terrence Malick film, rather a theatre cooking experience where the MasterChef judge will create dishes inspired by his life.

“Food for me is always about childhood memories, culture and experiences,” Calombaris explains. “I always like to draw upon the good and bad times of life. Food is not about filling the stomach; it’s about warming the heart and soul.”

This includes negative experiences. “My father always taught us to turn negative and tough times into a positive. Life is too short and we should live it to the max every day. During tough times I find food as a comfort.”

The show will culminate with Calombaris’ own Tree of Life dish. Inspired by his mother’s Cypriot heart and the story of Aphrodite, the dish, without giving too much away, actually gets watered like a plant for the full effect.

Calombaris began as an apprentice at Hotel Sofitel with fellow MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan before joining Mehigan at Fenix. At just 24 he won young chef of the year and was named as one of the top 40 chefs of influence in the world by Global Food and Wine Magazine in 2004. Calombaris initially caught the attention of the food world with his modern twist on Greek cuisine. For the last four seasons Calombaris has been a judge on Channel 10’s MasterChef along with Matt Preston and Mehigan. He owns seven restaurants in Melbourne (including the famous Press Club) and one in Mykonos.

There are plans for more.

“I am currently working on a new place in Melbourne called Jimmy Grants. It’s a bottle shop/souvlaki bar. I have always wanted to do a really Athenian style souvlaki bar. Very exciting.”

Calombaris, who will return to the small screen for a fifth season of MasterChef, is at ease performing on stage.

“In the beginning it was hard but now I really enjoy and love theatre. No add breaks, no boundaries, just me, food and you.”

With eight restaurants, and plans for a ninth, plus a television career and travelling around to appear at events such as Good Food & Wine, you would think that a Chef would just like to return to the kitchen and cook. But the 33-year-old says the thrill of working hard is what motivates him.

“I respect all in life except lazy people. I hate laziness. I get motivated by tough moments and the thrill. I hate dull moments like I hate dull food. I only get one chance at this life and I will never die wondering.”

Previous Tree of Life performances have seen his mother join him on stage but she won’t be appearing at Calombaris’ appearances across each of the three days at the Good Food & Wine Show, which will also host celebrity chef performances by Matt Moran, Manu Feildel and Maggie Beer.

“Unfortunately my parents will be in Greece but I will be bringing up my head chefs from Hellenic Republic, Travis McAuley and my head chef from The Press Club, Joe Grbac. These guys are my stars and are amazing chefs. I respect their hard work and commitment to me.”

Finally, plenty of Adelaideans make the trip to Melbourne to discover its food scene. What are the new trends and Melbourne eateries impressing Calombaris?

“Well the burger has taken Melbourne by storm. But in saying that there are some great places to eat: Cutler and Co, Coda, MoVida and the list goes on. I am lucky to be among some amazing chefs and restaurants.”

Good Food & Wine Show Adelaide Showground Friday, October 12 to Sunday, October 14


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