Variety

Masterchef Australia judges woo Delhi kids

Navadha Pandey | | Updated on: Oct 25, 2012

masterchef

Gary and George teach children the language of food

Samiha Singh of Sommerville School had the best time making a smoothie. Why? Well, she was making it for her favourite judges of the Masterchef Australia series, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.

The two are in New Delhi for an event ‘Gary and George unplugged in India’, organised by the Australian Government as part of the Oz Fest in India. The Fest began on October 16 and will end on February 5. It will cover events such as music performances, comedy festivals, food shows and theatre performances across cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Pune.

The ‘creative cooking for kids’ event had about 30 children from 15 schools across the National Capital Region, who were asked to make innovative smoothies. The winners got to cook a fusion dish with Indian chef Ritu Dalmiya.

On how important creative food is for children, George said," As a kid, I used to eat whatever my Mom made because I was involved in the cooking process also. You give me green vegetables boiled on a plate, I won't touch it. But throw in some flavour and I would gladly eat it."

No wonder the children, divided into groups, were seen excitedly discussing recipes and choosing the fruits to go into the smoothies. Gary and George, too, gave each team suggestions on flavours that could be used.

"Children are wonderfully creative and it’s great to mentor them…. An important lesson they take away in Junior Masterchef is that you need not win every time. Coming second or third is okay”, said Gary.

Sasha Mirasingh from Sanskriti school, said," We're making a kiwi fruit smoothie. We're adding banana and cheeku to moderate the sour taste of the kiwi. Then we'll put shredded apple on top and some mint leaves for garnishing."

The television show, Masterchef Australia, has had an overwhelming response not just in Australia, but other countries too, including India.

"Food programmes weren't very main-stream on television. They had a niche audience. But Masterchef today has over three million viewers," said Gary.

Gary and George said their restaurant business in Australia had also benefited from the show. On a lighter note, they said they had also come across funny incidents such as children sending back steaks saying they were not properly cooked.

The Masterchef stars, who come across as firm but humane, have often been accused of not giving negative feedback to contestants. "We give constructive criticism. We do not want a show that’s degrading or personal. And we need to get the best out of the people," said Gary.

The idea behind the show is that there should be a “take-home” component. “The show is so popular because all the people in the room love the same thing -- food. There is conversation, laughter. I think through food, people understand each other better."

After all, food is all about social experience, says George, and adds “I can’t wait for my kid to grow up and work in a kitchen environment. It teaches you so much, especially social skills."

Published on October 25, 2012
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