Home » Travel & Food » India / Australia –Chef Gary Mehigan’s Dinner to Remember at The Ritz – Carlton, Bangalore

India / Australia –Chef Gary Mehigan’s Dinner to Remember at The Ritz – Carlton, Bangalore

How often does one get an opportunity to have a meal cooked by a renowned international celebrity Chef? Trust the Ritz Carlton, Bangalore to organize a curated seven-course ‘Dinner to Remember’ for its patrons, crafted by none other than Chef Gary Mehigan, who regaled his diners with his cuisine and rich stories.

3 mins read

Born in UK, settled in Australia, the globe-trotting Chef Gary’s culinary journey began with two Michelin starred restaurants, moving on to highly successful stints in the television industry as judge and host – such as Master Chef Australia for 11 seasons, Junior MasterChef, Celebrity MasterChef, MasterChef Allstars, co-host of Boys Weekend, co-host of Good Chef Bad Chef, Your Place or Mine and Cook with Us, co-hosted the show Plate of Origin for Seven Network. He has been in India hosting National Geographic’s new series India’s Mega Festivals, now in its second season. He has also authored several cookbooks. Gary says he feels blessed in his career; it has allowed him to travel, indulge his passions, and meet extraordinary people. By admission, he has felt the pain and pressures of failure but enjoyed great success and couldn’t wish for more. He values honesty, enthusiasm, passion, and compassion, and above all else, he loves to teach. Despite his busy schedule, he answered our questions.

What was the most difficult part of being a judge on a cookery show?

Chef Gary Mehigan – I did it for a long time, 11 years. I didn’t think it was very difficult, it’s nice and easy. I used to follow a couple of simple rules. In fact, Matt and George and I set the tone for reality television from filming MasterChef, which was, ‘be positive’. We always used to give one negative and two positives on every part of feedback that we gave. That was a natural progression from running teams, training chefs, running restaurants, dealing with the front-of-house team, back-of-house team and making sure that they present in the best possible way to customers.

So, if you’re mean and nasty to people, they’re going to pass that on, whereas if you highlight where they need to improve and then give them something positive or a couple of positives where you highlight what they do well, then it’s great for the confidence, you get a better result. When we judged Conosh’s Ultimate Homechef of India Competition 2023, we kept this in mind and hopefully encouraged more and more people to take up cooking and do it really well, because that leads to more variety, more flavour and more delicious stuff. Food is an interesting thing, people think it’s quite subjective and everybody has a different idea about what’s good and what’s bad, but if you put a good dish in front of three people, they can often just agree on the fact that it’s great food, it might not be to their taste, so it’s more objective. Honesty is the best policy. We’re always looking for deliciousness.

What defines a ‘bad’ Chef? His /her cooking skills or behavior?

Well, I don’t know if we want to go too deep into this. I love to focus on the positive and what makes a great chef. What makes a great chef is somebody who’s passionate, committed to what they do, and is always in search of new recipes and ideas and inspirations. Somebody that’s enthusiastic enough and loves what they do enough that it passes on to other people. Recipes, ideas, passion is passed on to the people around you. From a technical and skill-based point of view, that takes a long time. That’s a ten-year commitment to getting really good at what you do. And that’s everything. Everything, how clean you are, how you set your station up, how you just chop something really simple, like an onion, how you put your knife down, how you wipe your bench top down. All of these are the things that, when you see a true professional at work, a master of their craft, like a top sushi chef slicing the most beautiful tuna, then you know what a great chef is.

For someone running a high-pressure Michelin kitchen, is it difficult to please every palate?

I saw an interview with Gordon Ramsay recently where he said, stop trying to think you can please everybody in the room, because you can’t. And I thought that was really good. Running restaurants is an exercise in trying to make people feel like they’re a king or a queen when they walk into the restaurant and when they leave, making them feel like they’ve been looked after, that every need has been fulfilled, that they’ve had a great time. Most importantly, that they can draw a circle around, they’ve had a great time. And that could be food, that could be service, that could be a great cocktail, it could be a particular dish, so it’s a challenge. It’s also a big challenge in dealing with people’s expectations. It’s often easier to set expectations low and exceed them rather than setting them high and trying to match their expectations about what they’re going to get.

People come out for many different reasons. You can speak to one table and they’ve come to your restaurant because they want to eat your food. That’s all they want to do, you speak to another table, and they’re not really fussed about the food at all. They came because it was the restaurant closest to where all of their friends were meeting. It was a central point where they all got together. And it’s often, although it could be anything, it could be a celebration for a birthday or a wedding or a wake. This aligns with my approach at the Conosh dinners in India too, where we delivered the most delectable dishes paired with some really nice pours from The Ardmore Legacy, elevating the dining experience for people who might have come to try my food in particular or just to see me. You can never really assume anything. That’s the secret. You’ve just got to pay attention, you’ve got to listen to feedback, you’ve got to act on that feedback, and you’ve got to act in the right way. Is it a legitimate complaint, for example? Is it something that we need to look for? Was it a difficult customer who’s in a bad mood when they walked into the restaurant? And that’s actually a hard one. You might get a husband and wife that just have an argument in the car, they turn up on the front door of your restaurant. They’re already in a bad mood. Ooh, it’s going to be a difficult night.

What is Chef Gary Mehigan’s comfort food?

Oh, many things! And it’s seasonal. It can be based on the day. If it’s tipping down with rain, and it’s lunchtime, it could be a big bowl of soup with some toasted sourdough bread with lashings of butter or a thick spread of ricotta and some olive oil. Or it could be a warm summer’s evening and a beautiful, kind of juicy, crunchy salad. Maybe with some chicken on the barbecue. It’s often about time and place. If you’re on a Greek island sitting by the sea, you’re not eating Nihari, are you? My comfort food is based on time and place and memory. And that could be many, many different things. It doesn’t really answer the question, but it kind of does.


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