In the world of reality TV judges, nasty is king.
Strange then that George Calombaris has made his name as probably the nicest judge you'd find on TV.
The Australian chef and restaurateur can often be seen calming a frazzled contestant or offering sage advice on the hit cooking competition series, MasterChef Australia.
Together with fellow chef Gary Mehigan and food critic Matt Preston, the trio has been helping Aussie home cooks fulfil their culinary dreams since the first episode aired in 2009.
Calombaris was in town last week to promote the latest season of MasterChef Australia, which airs on weekdays at 7pm and 11pm on Lifetime (StarHub Ch 514).
The 36-year-old chef of Greek heritage shared with M the highlights of hosting MasterChef Australia and finding time to run his seven restaurants.
MasterChef Australia is in its sixth season.
Are you getting tired of it?
No. I'm never tired of talking about something I love.
I'm talking about food, and food is what I know - it's everything that I know and it's what I've committed and devoted my life to.
Is it tiring? Is it hard? Yes, but good things in life don't happen by waiting around and not working hard for them.
How do you find time to film and run your restaurants?
Well, by working many hours a day. When we're filming, I finish at 4 or 5pm, then I race down to the restaurants and spend a couple of hours there.
I'm in the restaurant as much as possible. You won't find me peeling or chopping the carrots, but I'm there when I'm needed most.
How has the show affected Aussie home cooks?
What the show has done for the Australian audience is incredible. Young kids are now interested in cooking and think that it is cool.
What it's done for amateur cooks is raise the bar, and their understanding of how hard it is to cook something really well.
It's also affected other industries. I remember making creme brulee in Season 1 and the next day, the blow torch was sold out in all hardware stores. How cool is that?
What are the high and low points of hosting the show?
The high points are seeing the contestants progress and achieving their dreams.
Low points are having to send them home. I wish they could stay for the entire duration, but that's not the point of the competition.
The worst moment would have to be when one of the contestants cooked roadkill. He collects roadkill and cooks it! It's absolutely disgusting.
This article was first published on November 5, 2014.
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