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'We thought only our mothers would like Masterchef'

Last updated on: August 25, 2011 13:47 IST

'We thought only our moms would like Masterchef'

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Ronjita Kulkarni in Mumbai

Matt Preston studied a particularly juicy bit of jalebi before popping it into his mouth. "I love these jalebis," he said, a contented smile lighting up his face. "This is the ultimate American junk food -- a little salty, very sweet and very fried!"

Reviewing food comes naturally to him. After all, he's helped make Masterchef Australia a worldwide hit, along with co-hosts Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.

And he's quite clued into Indian cuisine.

On his most recent trip to India -- he's been here twice before in 1989 and 2005 -- he's tried out all sorts of dishes like dhansak, fish cooked in coriander paste wrapped in a banana leaf, slow-cooked mutton and even paan.

Preston has seen food disasters here as well. "I had a meal on the train from Agra to Delhi 22 years ago. That made me very sick," he recalls.

He's quick to give a solution to the proverbial Delhi belly: "Fermented coffee, vinegar, tea, and anything fermented is very good for the stomach." As an aside, Preston claims the must-have in every kitchen, and his all-time favourite ingredient, is the lemon.


Image: Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Adriano Zumbo

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'We didn't think the show would do well even in Australia'

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Masterchef Australia has contestants cooking cuisines from around the world, with Preston and his co-hosts, Gary and George, giving their expert reviews on the dishes.

India missed the first season but the second season was an instant hit. The ongoing third season has picked up well, as viewers settle down routinely in front of their television sets at 9pm on weekdays.

"We didn't think the show would do well even in Australia. We thought only our mothers would like it, and that'll be it," Preston laughs.


Image: A scene from Masterchef Season 2

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'When you start talking about food, all barriers come down'

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"The thing about the show is that we've connected with so many people," he continues. "A friend from Bangalore, who I hadn't seen in 20 years, saw Masterchef in India, and then got on to Facebook, and popped me a greeting. It was a real surprise."

He tries to explain why the show is such a hit. "It doesn't matter what culture you're from, when you start talking about food, all those barriers come down."

George and Gary are not accompanying Preston on his visit to India -- George had a baby just a couple of days ago, and Gary was busy hosting Junior Masterchef. "I've got three months off, so I came here," Preston explains.


Image: A still from Masterchef Australia Season 3

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'Aamir Khan is amazing, he's a superstar!'

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So, is he as familiar with the other thing India is known for apart from food? Yes, Preston knows Bollywood well.

"I met some Bollywood people at the Indian film festival in Melbourne. I met Malaika Khan and her husband (Arbaaz Khan). We talked a lot about cricket. He's a big producer. I met Rajkumar Gupta, who made No One Killed Jessica. That's a good film."

He's also seen Monsoon Wedding and 3 Idiots. "Aamir Khan is amazing, he's a superstar! I'm surprised he's not in Hollywood because he has an amazing way with him. Really impressive," Preston signs off.

 


Image: A still from Masterchef Australia Season 3

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