What's in... George Calombaris' bag

What's in... George Calombaris' bag

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and that proverb can be a dangerous one to a cook, attests Australian chef George Calombaris.

His weight has ballooned since he put on an apron more than 15 years ago and this year, he decided it had to stop.

"Before I was a chef, I was always fit, you know. But when I was committed to the stove, I forgot to look after myself," mused the famed chef, restaurateur and judge on reality show MasterChef Australia.

With a little exercise and plenty of determination, it took him just eight months last year to lose more than 20kg.

Surprisingly, he did not adhere to any fad diets nor restricted himself from eating food that he loved.

Instead, he made a few small adjustments, which included removing sugar from his daily coffee fix and having meals at appropriate times.

The success of this healthy lifestyle inspired him to open a restaurant, Mastic, in Melbourne, Australia.

The idea behind the restaurant is based on cooking using whole foods, such as goat's milk and coconut milk, with little or no processed food on the menu.

It is scheduled to open later this month.

"There was a point in my life when I said, 'Hang on, you know what? I need to start caring about myself'," the chef recalled.

That was when he decided he should not only commit himself to the stove, but to also keep fit for his family.

The 36-year-old has two children, James, three, and 23-month-old Michaela, with his partner of six years.

Playing football on a weekly basis and participating in a local football league helped with his endeavour.

The social experience of football was a great way to lose weight and keep fit, as well as an excuse for him to keep in touch with his friends.

His love for the sport extends to supporting his hometown team, Melbourne Victory Football Club.

He is the club's No. 1 fan and when he is not rooting for his home team, the football fan supports Manchester United as well.

"I wanted to play for Manchester United when I was younger, but I'm no good," he quipped.

His other passion for cooking and TV was met when he was asked to be a judge on MasterChef Australia from the very first season. He remembers all the past winners and has fond memories of them.

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