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OT Staff: Do you like to travel for food?
Gary Mehigan: I’ve travelled a lot—I’ve been to Korea, Laos, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Italy, Spain, Greece, and most of it has been for food. Actually, I don’t think I’ve been anywhere that wasn’t for food. I’ll go to Tuscany to visit the chocolate factory; I like to visit Rome for Parma ham and buffalo cheese, and if I happen to see the Colosseum too, that’s awesome.
OT Staff: The farthest you have travelled to eat something new...
Gary Mehigan: Matt [Preston], George [Calombaris] and I are going on a trip, and we’ve written down eight restaurants we want to visit in the world. The ones furthest away are Central Restaurante and Maido in Lima, Peru. This will be my first time in South America, so I’m quite excited
OT Staff: Does travelling add a lot to your experience as a chef?
Gary Mehigan: Absolutely. I think it’s essential. Every time I get on a plane, a boat or a bike and go somewhere different, I discover something new. It can be in a kitchen in someone’s home, at a roadside stall or even at a top restaurant. That is the pleasure of travelling. Now, I can afford to travel, and luckily, my job takes me all over the world too.
OT Staff: What do you think is the latest food trend?
Gary Mehigan: I think what’s happening around the world is that chefs, whether in India, America or Australia, are trying to find local, sustainable ingredients. In terms of trends, that’s one that I think makes sense.
OT Staff: What’s the next big cuisine?
Gary Mehigan: I’d like to say that regional Indian cuisines are the next big thing. They are largely untapped. We talk about some of the cutting-edge restaurants in India, and most of what they are doing, the rest of the world hasn’t seen yet.
OT Staff: What are your favourite Indian dishes? What elements would you borrow from the cuisine?
Gary Mehigan: I love south Indian food, the clarity and lightness of some of the dishes, as opposed to the north Indian dishes that we are used to in Australia. However, I’m also very fond of galouti spices. The rose petal or the black pepper translate very well into some softer cooking. Take a French dish, put some Indian spices in them, and it makes sense. For example, I made a boudin blanc, a French sausage, and I used a galouti spice with mushrooms in it. It was delicious. We also made hummus out of hara channa and green cardamom, and loved it. It’s little things like that.
OT Staff: How do you use platforms like Instagram as a chef?
Gary Mehigan: It’s a fascinating medium. It helps me follow chefs from all over the world. The inspiration and transfer of ideas and techniques is instantaneous. I also love how people engage with me. When I post a photo with ingredients, people from all over comment, and give me tips: “do this”, “dip it in batter”, and I think—that’s a good idea!
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