Masterchef Australia’s Gary Mehigan names his fave Melbourne spots

Masterchef Australia’s Gary Mehigan names his fave Melbourne spots
Masterchef Australia judge Gary Mehigan has an appetite for far flung places
Published: 4:12 AM, January 22, 2015
Updated: 11:27 AM, January 23, 2015

SINGAPORE — MasterChef Australia judge Gary Mehigan knew the cooking series was pretty big overseas, but he had no idea how popular it was until he visited countries — such as South Korea, India, Vietnam and Hong Kong — for his own travel show, Far Flung.

“I know MasterChef does well in Malaysia and Singapore, but there were also people coming up to me in Vietnam and South Korea telling me that their relatives studied in Monash (university in Melbourne) and RMIT and introduced them to the show,” he revealed. “I felt very pleased about it.”

The affable Melbourne-based chef is even more stoked about the chance to combine his love for food and travel in his new show. “We’re starting with six episodes and we hope people like it and there’ll be a chance to do more. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than travelling and eating.”

Q: How did you decide on the countries that you visited for Far Flung?

A: Asia makes perfect sense. I love the different cuisines in Asia and the show serves as almost the first page of introduction. There’s so much to learn — we were merely scratching the surface of the diversity of each country. I’ve been to Hong Kong before, India a few times so we added those in as well as countries I haven’t been to such as South Korea.

Q: So what have you learnt about food and cooking from doing Far Flung?

A: A little more knowledge is a dangerous thing (laughs). For example, after I came back from Vietnam, I just wanted to eat what I had there. There’s a big Vietnamese community in Melbourne and the food’s great. But now I find that there’s something not quite right — an essential flavour perhaps, that’s missing. There’s a newer appreciation for the nuances and complexity of some of the dishes. And I’ve changed the brand of the fish sauce I use after visiting Phuc Quoc, a place that specialises in making fish sauce. I now buy Red Boat brand, which is from there.

Q: Do you usually bring food items back as souvenirs from your trips?

A: No, I don’t risk it. But I did bring some unusual spices back from India which I declared to the Australian customs. They had a field day with me because I told them I didn’t know what I can or cannot bring in. I managed to keep most of the spices.

Q: Lots of Singaporeans love visiting Melbourne for its food as well. Where are some of your favourite places?

A: Yeah, Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world for food to me. We have a big breakfast scene and I like Hobba and Our Kitchen Table for that. The Kettle Black is another good place. For burgers, I go to 8 Bit Burger and Grand Trailer Park. Thirty Eight Chairs and La Luna Bistro are another two places I would recommend. Serene Lim

Far Flung with Gary Mehigan premieres next Tuesday , 27 Jan at 9pm on FYI (previously known as BIO).