A Chat With George, The Emotional Chef – Hope 103.2

A Chat With George, The Emotional Chef

The kitchen is a place of passion, says Masterchef judge George Colombaris. Read his top three tips for home cooking.

By Clare BruceThursday 28 May 2015Guests and ArtistsReading Time: 5 minutes

Masterchef’s George Colombaris is the first one to admit that he’s an emotional man.

George Of Masterchef

The celebrity chef and foodwriter has foodie highs and lows on a daily basis. It’s part and parcel of chefing, he said in an interview with Hope Media. 

“I get emotional every day in my own kitchen,” he said. “It’s an emotional thing to be able to feed people food.”

“You’ve got to remember, it’s ‘you’ that you’re putting on the plate. There’s criticism, there’s triumph and glory, it’s an emotional thing. 

“One day it could be amazing, the next day it might not be. 

“It’s what makes this industry such a wonderful one. Every day is different, but every day you get something special. That’s the gratification for your hard work.”

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Listen Now: Masterchef Judge Geroge Colombaris talks Masterchef and Australia’s love affair with food

 

A Passion To Help Budding Cooks Succeed

 

George Colombaris, Masterchef Judge

George, now in his seventh season of the competition-style reality TV show, is known for his sometimes poker-face response when contestants present their dish for judging.

However when giving contestants feedback mid-cooking, his face often tells the story better than words.

“I try and give them as much assistance without giving them the answer at that point,” he said. 

“Hopefully my facial expressions will either say “awesome, you’re on the right track”, or “rethink what you’re about to do because it doesn’t sound right”. 

“I try and help them as much as I can, because I want them to succeed. 

“Our job’s not just to judge and critique them, our job’s to assist them in growth. They’ve got to grow and if you look at the food they’re producing now, just wait to see what they’re going to produce in six weeks’ time. It’s incredible.”

During Season Seven George famously refused to taste a piece of chicken that appeared to be undercooked.

But he said mistakes like undercooking food are part of the learning process.

“I’ve undercooked more fish and chicken and beef than a lot of people,” he said.

“I’d rather [the contestants] make these mistakes with us, than when they get out into the big bad world. It’s important that we help them to not make those mistakes again.”

While Masterchef contestants sometimes make their craft look easy, there is a real science to getting food right – particularly desserts, according to George.

“Desserts are hard,” he said. “You need a certain accuracy. It’s quite an alchemy and it’s a very measured genre of cooking. You can’t just ‘wing it’ as they say.”

 

Surprised By The Skill Of Masterchef Contestants

 

George Colombaris and Masterchef Contestant

 

While Masterchef producers searched far and wide for to-notch contestants for Season Seven, George said he was still surprised by their skill.

“I think every year I’m surprised,” he said. 

“The standard rises and what we’ve got this year is a crop of 24 cooks that are committed and dedicated to the cause. 

“They’re foodies and they want to change their lives and they want to be in [the industry of] food. Their abilities are extraordinary.

“No longer are we teaching them how to make a mayonnaise or an anglaise. The basics are already under their belt. 

“What we get now is creativity-plus, as well as incredible stories and ambitions.”

With Greek and Cypriot heritage, George has a rich set of food influences. 

As well as being a famous chef, he’s also a food writer and critic, so it’s high praise when he says the Masterchef show has improved the quality of the average Australian’s cooking.

“It’s galvanized this country,” he said. “It’s changed the way kids think about food let alone adults.”

 

George’s Tips For Home Cooks

 

Chopping Tomatoes 

When it comes to advice for at-home cooks aspiring to create great meals, George has some simple advice.

Tip 1 – Buy The Best Produce Your Budget Allows

“Buy what you can afford, but get the best thing you can at your budget,” he said. “It starts with great produce. For example, at the moment artichokes are in season, so celebrate those in their entirety.” 

Tip 2 – Get To Know Your Local Market

“Go to the market and learn about when things come out, at what time, and when they are at their best,” he said. 

“If you rock up to the market at three in the afternoon, you get some really good bargains, and you know that they’re fresh, they’re tasty and delicious. And they’re in season.”

Tip 3 – Taste As You Cook 

“When you’re cooking something, taste it,” George said. “Make sure it’s developing in flavour. 

“That’s why you cook something, to bring out its natural flavour and its deliciousness - or else we’d be eating everything raw.”

 

A Word Of Advice For Would-Be Competitors

 

For those wanting to enter their name as a potential Masterchef competitor, George gave the following advice.

“If you think you can cook and you’ve got a palate, but more importantly, if you’ve got a dream and you want to seriously be in this industry, go for it,” he said. 

“If you haven’t, you’ll get worked out very quickly and you’re better not to waste your time!”

He said the show was not for the half-hearted, but had become a launchpad for those serious about a career in the food industry.

“It definitely gives you a springboard and a platform to further your career and change your life,” he said.