For the past few weeks Facebook has been abuzz with excitement about the World food on a plate event with the famous judges from Masterchef Australia. Now ordinarily I’m not one to go gaga over celebrities but when it came to George , Gary and Matt ,I find that I’m just as star struck as any fan !
Can you blame me ?! For the past 7 seasons of Masterchef Australia they have been a permanent part of my 9 to 10 pm tv slot!So when we heard that they were participating in an event so close to home I just had to sign up.
My kids recorded an endearing video for me to play to them on my I pod .My sister in law Priya and I signed up for the tete-a-tete on Saturday as well as for the brunch at the JW Marriott on Sunday. It was only when I got there was I told that the food bloggers were given a special audience the previous evening. Being an out of towner I missed that brief.
Disappointed at first I was determined not to let that dampen my spirits! Seated at the UB city amphitheater for the tete-a-tete with Maria Goretti we were regaled with stories that happened behind the scenes at the Masterchef Australia show.It was obvious that these guys loved a good laugh. Matt’s 400 cravats were discussed along with his views of cooking jam in the buff (simply hilarious) ,George’s affinity for football (he’s a Manchester United fan) and Gary’s passion for fast motorbikes.We were all in splits , including my friend Hamsini and her teenage daugter Shriya. It’s only when you see these three in real life that you understand just how tall Matt is. Gary had to demonstrate it by trying on Matt’s coat which reached to his knees. George is the more shy of the lot , his smile and dimples speak volumes of his personality.They were in a relaxed and chatty mood until they got hungry and the trio unanimously announced that they were salivating at the thought of the tandoori broccoli that awaited them. It was disappointing that the audience didn’t get a personal interaction and it seemed that the event was overbooked and it was just not possible for 3 guys to meet so many thousands that showed up.
Apparently ,the Masterclass was a bit more intimate considering it was attended by just about 50 people. I along with many others did agree that the event did not do justice to the many fans that showed up! More than just wanting to click pictures to post on social media , all we wanted was to talk to them and let them know what a positive impact they’ve had on our lives. That and to talk about two of my other favourites Marco Pierre white and nigella Lawson 😉 😀
The next day at the VIP brunch,I was in mid sentence explaining to the organisers how far I had travelled and in walked Gary followed by Matt and George.I couldn’t believe my luck because all the other guests were awaiting them at the banquet hall ! Spontaneously I went,“Hi Gary!” as if I’d known him all my life. (Technically I did know him for 7 years ,just that he doesn’t know me !) He turns around nonchalantly with a curious but friendly hi that just put me at ease. For the next ten minutes I told him where I was from and showed him the video of my kids. He breaks into a huge smile and offers to take a selfie with me on my device. He then calls out to Matt and George who are just as friendly and pose for a few shots until we get the perfect picture.I pose too in a sort of trance for I’m eager to snatch in some conversation with Matt who is my favourite judge. Despite being short on time,he actually listened when I told him why we all loved their show.“That’s so great , thank you” he said ,giving me a quick half hug before rushing off onto the stage.
Waiter Ram at the JW Mariott grabbed our attention with his infectiously happy demeanor. Priya , my friend Rakhi and I couldn’t help but smile back.When I asked him if he was enjoying the show, he said that he was in charge of serving the judges their morning cup of java everyday. He was most touched that Gary offered to make him an espresso for a change, with an extra flourish on top !
Heart beating madly I rushed to my seat to fill my companions in. It was one of those moments in life that completely catch you off guard.Little did I know that that my encounter with these famous foodies was far from over.
Chef Manu Chandra is a dear friend of my host Kavita. He also happens to be one of Matt Preston’s favourite Indian chefs. Imagine our surprise when we all ended up at ‘Toast and Tonic’,for dinner. Since that afternoon I was agonizing over the fact that only I got to meet them , the experience somehow seemed incomplete. I couldn’t have been more thrilled for my nephew that his mom was getting to meet them as well.My sister-in-law indulged in a much awaited photo opp with Gary and George .I on the other hand was truly surprised when Gary said, “I actually do remember you from this afternoon”.We went on to chat about organic farming,eating locally available and sustainable food.I pointed out the vaizhaithandu on Manu’s menu along with the kari pala. Gary said he loved the taste of it and spoke of a jack fruit biryani that he’d eaten at another restaurant. He recommended that I try the tonic water, flavoured with pear and a star anise capsuled in an ice cube,( a popular drink at T n T )it turned out to be just what I’d ordered! George told us how emotional he got after cooking that morning for the children from the orphanages. It got him thinking of his own kids whomh hadn’t seen in 2 weeks and was waiting to get back.When I thanked him for the positive influence he has on kids through his show ,he insisted that the actual credit should go to the parents who make sure the kids follow through on what they see.“If you’re kids are doing that then you’re obviously a great mom” he said.That kind of non-starriness is what impressed me most about these gentlemen from down under. We didn’t get to meet Matt as he had already left for the airport.
This endearing quality is exactly what connects the Indian audience to these three men who just light up the screen with their smiles.Despite the exhaustion of the past week ,they are looking forward to visiting again because of that connect. Matt’s knowledge of Indian cuisine is unbelievably vast. He agrees with George who has perfected the art of saying ‘wokay’ with the characteristic Indian head shake that chefs must stay true to their cuisines. A Bengal mustard curry need not for instance have a balsamic vinegar influence. Matt is ecstatic at having discovered the morre molagai on this trip but his first dish on landing here always has to be a dosa. Not only are they eager to promote good cooking practices but are also extremely focused at influencing folks back into the kitchen and away from processed foods.
Honest reviews delivered without any airs was truly a pleasure to watch. The nurturing nature of the show is what has millions of Indians like me glued to the screen every single weekday night. The positivism and kindness they radiate is much needed in today’s world full of selfish needs , negative mindsets and pompous self worth ! To find that they were actually what they portrayed on tv in real life is what has made this visit to the World food event a memorable one. Both Priya and I would have come away mighty disappointed if it had not been for our chance encounters with these wonderful gentlemen. I would’ve liked to chat exclusively with Matt but I’m grateful for what the universe orchestrated for us. To put it in a nutshell , they are simple guys who love good food , share knowledge from their travels and have a jolly good time while doing so. My kind of cooks for sure!
It goes without saying that from here on I will watch the rest of the episodes with an even bigger smile on my face !