Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Matt Preston Masterchef Starworld India press conference in Mumbai (11th July)

Those who follow this blog, probably are aware of my regard for it. I’ve never been so hooked to a TV show as I have been to Master Chef Australia. When the last season ended I din’t know what to do with myself at 9 pm on weekdays. I’d set my routine around it! 

But I am happy to share that I am back to that ever since season 3 has FINALLY begun! I rushing my evening along so at 8.45, the kids are fed, bathed and ready for bed, and settle in front of the TV with dinner (Soup – I LOVE soup – a creative salad - I LOVE those too), and settle back to watch the show. Season 3 has been on Youtube, but I just could not bear to watch it on my computer. I waited for it to come on TV so I could watch it with the kids which makes a far more memorable viewing experience!

I have to confess that I debated going to the press meet that was organized by Star World at ITC for Matt Preston or not, since I was taking Matt to lunch later in his trip (yes please watch this space for more on that!). But having been unanimously granted the title of his biggest fan by fellow Twitter and Blogger fans of his AND having been the recipient of his graciousness in Melbourne, I felt it would be very inhospitable NOT to welcome him to my city. And I am so glad I went, because I had such a great time. I have met Matt in person, but I had not seen him live in action. And i had such fabulous company in fellow bloggers who attended!

The ballroom at the ITC, Grand Central at Lower Parel was all set for the show as I made my way to a table where some of the food bloggers had congregated.  Almost immediately I ran into Kunal Vijaykar who was waiting for things to start off. We had a grand chat about food and enthusiastically talked about some things we wanted to work on together (yes watch for that too!) and then made a plan to “have lunch” together later to discuss things further. At the bloggers table everyone was settling down; catching up, opening up the Masterchef packs we had been given and so on. Aneesh, suggested wearing the Masterchef logo bearing chef’s hats. So all of us did, proceeding to play around taking pictures and have fun. And then, suddenly we realised we were the cynosure of all eyes as everyone began to take our pictures; press, Star World team members and even the hotel’s staff!

There was a palpable atmosphere of excitement at our table! I suspect because most of the other attendees were journalists and press and needed to be more formal, but we were bloggers, unbound by any rules and above all we were fans of Masterchef and Matt Preston. The show had had an indelible effect on our lives, and today we had a chance to, perhaps in person, thank one of the people who validated the passion that we put into exploring food on our blogs often in addition to career, full time jobs and busy lives.

The event kicked off with Kunal, “The Foodie” introducing Matt, followed by Saurabh Yagnik, GM and senior VP Star India Pvt. Ltd, saying a word. And then came the moment we were all waiting for... against a backdrop of music and flame Matt Preston made a grand entry, through a smoke screen. And almost immediately dispelled any wisps of pretentiousness by cracking jokes about tripping and falling flat on his face and about how Kunal reminded him of Gary. They engaged in some friendly banter and then tried to outdo eachother pouring lassi. Then came a cooking demonstration by Matt in which he tossed up a watermelon, cucumber salad topped with feta cheese followed by poached eggs over English Muffins and sweet corn.

Watching Matt talk about food was mesmerising. All the oh-so-familiar gestures and manerisms we see on Masterchef were there - the eye-closing, the slight lift of the shoulders, the wafting of his fingers, a little sigh here and there, the thoughtful muse, the beautiful food descriptions in that buttery baritone and most importantly the friendly banter with George and Gary, that here happened with Kunal and even me in the audience at a couple of points! And once he was done, he came off the stage and made a beeline for our table, enveloping me in a warm bear hug. I just about  managed to introduce him to the bloggers at our table before he was reminded that he had a host of interviews lined up. But he was sweet enough to make time for photo ops with everyone and those who brought lovely gifts for him!
Here are my favourites Questions from and Matt’s answers –

Q. “Are you a purist who conforms to tradition or do you like to experiment and adopt modern techniques and fusion cooking?”
Matt: I love what tradition has to offer in terms of flavours, ingredients and their simplicity. I also like a modern touch to a traditional dish as long as it tastes good. The underlying principle here is that is should taste good. I have a friend George Calombaris who tried to deconstruct Pesto on a plate and in the end all you got were basil leaves, pine nuts and olive oil on a plate! That’s ridiculous because it isn’t pesto in any sense! So the rule here is to follow or be inspired by tradition but not be bound by it.”

Q. “How often do you cook for your family?”
Matt: Well, since I’m developing new recipes and writing about them I need to be in the kitchen trying them out. So I do cook quite often, but only for my wife! My children love something today which they might not even look at tomorrow! So I try not to cook for the kids, leave that to my wife. I’m home three nights a week, of which I take her out one night and cook the other two. “Some men Play golf, I play in my kitchen”

Q. “If you were to turn vegetarian, what meat would you miss the most?”
Matt: Well honestly, it would be bacon. I’d miss its smoky flavour, which is why I would need something like the smoked mayonnaise to fill that gap. But honestly, I think vegetarian food is the future of the world. Even in some of the best restaurants of the world, like Noma or the one in Spain which recently shut down, you’ll have a sixteen course meal of which two or three dishes will be red meat, three or four maybe sea food and the rest all will be vegetarian. It’s a fact that the world is moving towards being vegetarian.
Kunal Tossed up Mumbai style Bhel Puri and offered it to Matt saying “You know how you’re always telling people to look for texture, texture, crunch crunch, flavour, flavour, this has it all! “

Photo op.
Matt with his Indian Gary!
Who can pour Lassi from higher!
Bad Picture but Matt clearly wins - although he was gracious enough to accept it was due to longer arms ;)
“Fusion is about Tasting good”
Adding an extra bit of Feta.

Matt shares that his favourite ingredients are Lime and good flaked sea salt (I was kicked because I share a love for citrus and crystal salt). And he is currently laying with the flavours of Mango and Peppercorn.
Watermelon+cucumber+Pumkin seeds+feta cheese tossed in lime juice "Lime is my favourite ingredient because a squirt of it can liven up even the worst dish!"
A Happy Fan, Harini gives me a quick photo op as Matt and Kunal prepare to make the secind dish of the day!
The fancy smoking machine, I would like ot acquire!
Matt sent out Mayos smoked with liquid smoke and the Smoking Machine for us to taste, there was a marked differnce!
The muffin, topped with a poached egg and the smoked Mayo.
Bloggers taking pictures of the dish.
I just dug in! sliced it open and let the good stuff flow out! With everyone either being vegetarian or vegan or disliking undercooked eggs around me, I had two of these, with no complaints! (Well one, the eggs the kithcne prepped had one underripe bitter avacado on it, but once I chucked that I was happy!)
That A Perfect Bite shot!
On request Matt created a special dish for vegan Foodie and blogger Harini.
THe dish he made!
Kunal Tossed up Mumbai style Bhel Puri and offered it to Matt saying “You know how you’re always telling people to look for texture, texture, crunch crunch, flavour, flavour, well this has it all! Try it! “
Happy fans and bloggers!

Matt with some of Mumbai's Food Bloggers
Matt collecting all the goodies from the food bloggers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so cool!! You're one lucky blogger!! :)