Master chef releases new cookery book

first_imgIt was only 6.30pm on a Monday night and I found myself crammed with more than 200 other people in a modern taverna eating the ultimate Greek hang-over cure; lamb souvlaki with chips. Sounding a little premature to be partying? I had good reason to because I was at the Hellenic Republic in Brunswick East for the launch of George Calombaris’s new cookbook, Greek Cookery From the Hellenic Heart.Complete with a blue carpet at the entrance, a door lady who fastened a bracelet with a mati around our wrists, and the ‘wog’ antics of George Capianaris, this was not your typical book launch.It was better, and not short of simple, authentic Greek food.Dolmadakia, Cypriot sausage and cumin roasted beetroot with yoghurt, which were beautifully but simply presented on white platters, were sped around the room by the waiters. Fellow MasterChef judges, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan were part of the official proceedings. Mehigan, who was Calombaris’ mentor at the Sofitel restaurant where he did his apprenticeship, spent five minutes admittedly, “blowing smoke up his (Calombaris) bottom.” “What impresses me most is the simple food that he has,” emphasised Mehigan. “He has transcended the cherries and wanting to be flash. He has the same love and dedication he has taken (from recipes) from his yiayia and mother- that is amazing cooking.”Mehigan then, (pardon the pun) put the cherry on his own speech by proclaiming that having George’s mug on the front cover would have the book selling like hot cakes!His latest cookbook is unique because it combines signature Hellenic Republic dishes such as the peppered figs with saganaki and the real, white taramosalata, but it’s meatier than that. Greek Cookery From the Hellenic Heart is also full of handwritten tributes to his great grandparents, parents, nieces and nephews. There are real life accounts of their migration to Australia, random comments about food and life taken straight from his lips, and Calombaris’s inspiring insights on Hellenism. “It’s about my love for who I am and what I represent. Food is family, family is life, life is everything,” he said.There are revelations about Calombaris that are both touching and surprising.“As much as my mum is the soul, my father is the strength,” he writes. “He has gone through a lot. He’s had cancer twice and has been on his death bed, but he still battles on just like the legendary Spartans.”Flick through the book and you will enjoy the fabulous photography by Dean Cambray, which compliment Calombaris’s home cooking inspired recipes as well as providing substance to his memories and personal accounts.The menu champions the full breadth and myriad influences on peasant cuisine across the Cyprus, Crete, Sparta, and other parts of Greece.From breakfast rich in yoghurt and sweet trahana, move onto koupes, kolakassi (pork and taro stew), and prawn saganaki. Finish off with mother Mary Calombaris’s famous Shamishi (Cypriot fried custard tarts), or for something lighter try the Mahlepi (chilled water jelly, pistachio and rose water).Greek Cookery From the Hellenic Heart RRPs for $50. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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