Meeting The Master Chef: An Exclusive Luncheon With MasterChef Australia’s Gary Mehigan

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You know that you’re invited for an ultra special luncheon when you get three email invitations followed by a hard copy invite by courier and three phone calls confirming your presence. Yes, that’s exactly what went on for a week before yesterday’s grand luncheon hosted by MasterChef Australia judge and co-host, Chef Gary Mehigan in association with the folks at Tourism Victoria (Australia) at Celini, Grand Hyatt Mumbai.

Gary Mehigan in celeb mode!So, there I was, seated at the VIP table amidst such august company as The Hon. Louise Asher, Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, G.M. Toh, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines, David Mansfield General Manager at Grand Hyatt Mumbai, ace lensman Atul Khasbekar, celebrated fellow journalist (and my dear former colleague) Bachi Karkaria and Gary, of course. With neat little menu cards—with a portrait of Gary overleaf—giving us a hint at what was in store for us, we toasted Gary’s unbridled celebrity status here in India with a glass of crisp Yering Station Chardonnay. “The last time I was in India, it was a bit strange to digest my popularity here,” said Gary. “But this time round, I am all too aware how phenomenally popular MasterChef Australia is here. It truly has taken India by storm!”

The yummy assorted canapesCreated totally by Gary with the able support of the Celini team, the meal started off with a selection of canapés that featured the likes of Rillettes of Smoked Salmon with Rosemary on an Olive Biscuit; Crostini with Favetta, Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Pistachios; Croquettes of Cauliflower and Cheese with a Saffron Aioli and my favourite of the quartet, Parfait on Sweet Brioche with a Tartine of Mushrooms. I had to literally be told by Gary to “leave space for the rest of the courses”, it was that good bursting with umami yumminess!

The salad appetiserAnd I’m glad I paid heed to his suggestion as the entrée course was worth the deprivation. The Salad of New Season Asparagus, Slow Cooked Egg, Goat’s Curd and Green Olive Tapenade presented in the linear plating style was exquisite in its oozy eggy goodness coupled with the crunchy bite of the asparagus spears and the salty hit of the tapenade. Truly a multi favoured and textured masterpiece, this.

The chicken main courseAs our white wine was replaced by glasses of the ruby-hued Yering Station Shiraz Viognier, waiters in unison deposited our mains on the table with a flourish. Roasted Breast of Free Range Chicken, Truffled Boudin Blanc, Carrot and Cardamom custard, Baby Carrots, Hazelnut Crumble and Jus Gras was what the main was made up of. If I were to be brutally honest (which you can always trust me to be!), I must say that although the dish was perfectly constructed and executed, I was quite underwhelmed by the idea of someone of Gary’s stature putting out a chicken dish. I mean, after all the grief he gives the contestants on the show for putting up “pedestrian chicken dishes”, I least expected a boring old dish starring chicken. “Give me the quail, the pheasant, the venison that you keep talking of, Gary!” I protested. But I did (half) understand when he told me that with a “culturally sensitive” palate that we Indians are bestowed with, he didn’t want to risk culinary faux pas by serving “challenging” meats and poultry. Still sulking, I waited in anticipation for the dessert course, which, if it was anything like its description and Gary’s impromptu assembling demonstration, it would do the ‘cheering up’ trick on me!

featuredWarm Tuscan Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Mousse, Salty Caramel, Oat Biscuit and Olive Oil (??) Ice-Cream was a revelation in more ways then one. The olive oil ice-cream, was velvety and fragrant, while the cake dense and dark, perfectly complemented by the salty caramel gastrique and the subtle mousse all brought together by the oat biscuit’s crunch. My every sense was falling victim to this grand finale that I didn’t want to spoil with an ‘after the after’ cup of coffee.

I did however settle for a very fan boy-esque photo op with Gary who has promised to shock me on his next trip to our fair city. Well, I’ll wait and see what that entails and I hope you will as well…

Photos by Raul Dias

Post By Raul Dias (102 Posts)

Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.

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Raul Dias

Raul Dias
Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.