Gary Mehigan always wanted to be either an engineer or a Policeman, but neither seemed to fit quite right. It was then that his father suggested him to talk to his Grandfather who was a chef, and everything seemed to fall into place. He has worked with some of the best known restaurants in the world including the The Boathouse, which he sold that last year. Read what he has to say on his food journey:
When did you think of becoming an entrepreneur from a chef?
I have been in Australia for some years, had worked with 5 star hotels for a few years, and the opportunity came up to go into business with Chef Raymond Capaldi, and the timing just seemed right. I felt like the time was right for me, and The Boathouse, so I took a leap of faith.
What were the challenges faced?
It’s a massive learning curve, going from running a kitchen to running a whole business. It was no longer just managing staff, food costs and creating menus; I was suddenly working with architects, accountants, marketing people, events office, and all the details that come with running your own business.
Tell us about your brand portfolio?
Well, it’s a number of things… My television roles, my books, guest appearances and brand ambassadorships. Right now we are developing a product range, I have just completed my first series of Podcast, called “A Plate to Call home”, which is available on Itunes internationally, and I have really enjoyed that medium. So I don’t have a traditional portfolio of restaurants or stores, but lots of different activities that take my creativity and endorsement.
Tell us about one of that wow! moment in your journey which you still remember.
There have been many, but from a food perspective, opening my first restaurant would have been one of those, but then realizing I was part of a trio hosting the biggest show on Australian television, was a surreal experience.
Gary, you have travelled around the world, worked with the best. How do you see food travelling from one region to the other?
Food breaks down boundaries and brings people together. It has been an important part of Australia’s identity, with many immigrants arriving from all over world since WWII. Greeks, Italians, Indians, various Asian communities, and now Middle Eastern, we have a wonderful melting pot of food. So I think food most definitely travels as our world becomes one big food experience.
Your contribution on Masterchef Australia is huge. How these shows actually help people to enter into the food biz?
Masterchef Australia was a game changer. Unlike any other reality show, our Food Production team, sincerely are in search of the next best home cook in Australia, and that shows, by how the success of so many of our previous contestants and where they are now. The success list is endless and inspiring.
What are few kitchen techniques which you always follow while cooking?
I am a clean freak and encourage those who have worked for me and the contestants on the show to work cleanly. It helps ensure you have a clear mind when the pressure is on.
Tell us about your new show ‘Masters of Taste’ on Fox. What are we going to taste about the food biz in this show?
I have the best job in the world. I get to travel around India, meet inspiring people doing amazing things in the food space in India, from the fine dining of Indian Accent to the humble & honest home cooking of the Danda Food Project. I then share some of my inspirations with the viewer that I hope they will try at home.
You have spent quite a few times in India. What trends do you see in the country?
FOOD! I am not a typical tourist who wants to do tours or see cathedrals or museums, but I am the ultimate food tourist. I will plan holidays based on food experiences I want to discover. Chocolate factories in Italy, cheese in France, street food in India.
What’s most exciting part of being in the industry?
The fact that everyone wants to talk about food. So many wonderful memories are usually attached to food for many people, so there is always a great food memory or story to tell or hear.
5 quick tips for new chefs and restaurateur who want to make it big in the industry.
Take your time, understand it’s a tough industry with long hours, and not everyone becomes a TV presenter. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Talk to other people in the industry. And do your research.
What’s the plan going forward?
To find some work/life balance, travel as much as I can, and take my dogs for a walk as often as I can.