Riding high on food

Riding high on food
FAR OUT: Chef Gary Mehigan travels around Asia on his trusty motorcycle in his latest cooking programme.

Do not confuse Gary Mehigan's new culinary TV series Far Flung with the 90s cooking programme Far Flung Floyd or even the recent Rick Stein's India.

While it has elements of both, it is also a whole new take, following the MasterChef Australia judge as he travels around India and other far-flung cities on a motorcycle.

"Rick's show was an inspiration," said the 47-year-old chef and restaurateur to M via e-mail about the famed English chef's beloved culinary series.

"But there were many others, like (actor) Ewan McGregor's Long Way Round, (chef) Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods and (chef) Anthony Bourdain's various shows."

The concept for Far Flung stemmed from his love for travel and each weekly episode sees him combine his twin passions for fine food and fast bikes as he travels around the markets in Asia in search of new ingredients.

"I'm not your typical tourist who visits cathedrals and galleries," he said.

"My idea of a good holiday is finding great food destinations."

Far Flung starts in Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra in west India, where Mehigan discovers herbs and spices he has never heard of.

He then goes to Jodhpur, in northern Rajasthan, where he attends the Maharaja's Full Moon dinner and learns from his chef how to cook for thousands of Rajasthan International Folk Festival revellers.

In Chennai, in southern Tamil Nadu, he tours local fish markets and cooks on the beach.

The six-episode series, which premieres on Jan 27 at 9pm on FYI (StarHub Ch 404), will also see the England-born chef visiting

Vietnam, Laos, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Singapore was not part of his itinerary - the list of countries he wanted to visit was simply too long.

"I'd definitely want to (film) in Singapore. There's so much diversity," he said.

"I love Asian food. It's so fresh, light and textural. When we were developing the show, I was going to go all over (the world), but then we decided to stick to one region per series, which has worked well."

Choosing India came naturally, said Mehigan, who first visited the country in 2012.

Vietnam was a "must" as it had "interesting food stories".

"Laos really appealed to me from an unknown destination point of view. I was keen to see the landscape and meet the people. South Korea and the whole fermenting craze just made me want to go there and discover where it all started.

"Hong Kong? Just wanted to go. So many lights, so much food," he said.

SOUTH AMERICA

He has set his sights on Latin countries for the next season.

Mehigan trained in London before relocating Down Under in 1991 to work at some of the prominent kitchens in Melbourne.

He found fame through reality TV cooking series MasterChef Australia, where he has been a judge with fellow chef George Calombaris and food critic Matt Preston since 2009.

Mehigan's focus this year will be Far Flung, Season 7 of MasterChef Australia and his businesses - restaurant The Boathouse and catering company Big Kitchen Events.

But his most important task will be to spend more time with his wife and his 12-year-old daughter, he said.

Mehigan, who is based in Melbourne and owns two motorcycles (a Triumph and a BMW), also wishes for more downtime to ride around.

"My ultimate 'me' time is getting out on the bike and riding up to Christmas Hills or down to the Great Ocean Road."

joannes@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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