Calombaris delivers Greek to the mainstream

first_imgGeorge Calombaris doesn’t have time to sit on his laurels. The chef has just finished shooting MasterChef Australian season four, he is off again about to start with Junior MasterChef for another year, and right now, he is promoting the best of Greek cuisine and produce in South Africa at the Good Food and Wine Show in Johannesburg. The celebrity chef is doing all he can to promote the best of Greek food, wine and produce to the mainstream by showcasing the flavours of Greece in his six restaurants, and visiting countries around the world like India and the United Arab Emirates, celebrating the tastes of his heritage. But it’s not just promoting Greek food, he’s doing his best to educate all about Greek language and culture, to the point he gives his 350 plus staff Greek lessons in the restaurants. Out of the 350 staff he has, only 12 have a Greek background, but with Calombaris’ drive and passion, he is making sure that they all become honorary Greeks. Just one look at Hellenic Republic’s head chef Travis McAuley and you understand. McAuley and Calombaris have been working together for eight years and travel to Greece together every year. “He knows all the top chefs in Greece, he knows about Greek products and even surprises my mother with stuff she’s never seen,” Calombaris tells Neos Komsos. “It makes me feel so warm and knowing that little person that threw that log on his fire by showing him his passion and hopefully it will become your passion and that for me means everything.” And that’s exactly what he keeps doing, throwing Greek logs on the fire to make sure that a blaze erupts in everyone’s belly, and not just members of the Greek community. At an event organised by the Greek consulate in Melbourne, the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria and HACCI, held last week to welcome the Greek and Cypriot trade delegation at Fine Food Australia, Calombaris confessed that when he was young he was ashamed of his Greek heritage. But, as he grew older he realised the richness of the Greek culture and not only embraced it, but made it his mission in life to promote it to the mainstream. As it stands, the television show MasterChef Australia – on which George Calombaris is one of the three judges – is shown in 35 countries. On the show, Calombaris is known for his Greek Cypriot background and openly discusses dishes from his heritage and promotes Greek produce and wine. Athens to Calombaris, is his playground, he goes there to get inspired, rejuvenated, to uncover hidden culinary gems to pass on to his customers and his staff. “I think about just under the butchers market in Athens, a little place that does one katsarola and that’s all he cooks every day and you go in there you get whatever is in the katsarola with a piece of bread and you’re done. I think of food shops with no electricity, no gas, no website, no business cards – nothing but grilled pork chops and the most amazing salads and the most amazing feeling. I think of the delicatessens and cheese shops in Pireas. I am talking cheese that is just mind blowing – not just feta and kefalograviera, I am talking about stuff that people don’t assume is Greek, even the Greeks don’t. “When that plane lands in Venizelos I get this electricity through my veins it’s like: I am here,” Calombaris tells Neos Kosmos. “Don’t get me wrong I am the proudest and most passionate Aussie you could come across, I have represented my country in my craft, I have worn the coat of arms on my chest, but there is just something internal about having that Hellenic idea in my head since I was born, that I will pass on to my son James.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more