MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris is in Singapore, and on the day he arrived here, the first time in seven years, he knew straightaway what he wanted to eat.
"I have to confess that as soon as I landed I went to the hotel and had a big bowl of that (chilli crab)," he said to a group of journalists gathered at a media event on Tuesday afternoon at the posh Tippling Club. "I love that, and what's worse is these... (he points to a piece of mantou, or deep-fried bread cubes commonly served with chilli crab) I mean, honestly guys, that is deep-fried bread. It's so yum. I could eat so many more of those, they're delicious!"
Calombaris, who is here as part of a three-stop tour in Asia (he flew in from Kuala Lumpur) to promote Season 6 of MasterChef Australia, sampled chicken rice and white carrot cake as well. Between chews and mumbles of "Yum", he rapid-fired questions about the broth used for the chicken rice, "do they keep it separate? Feels like the kind of thing that makes you feel better when you're sick!" and about the white-radish dish, "is there actually carrot in the carrot cake? Is there some sort of seafood in that?"
"What I love is this is just honest cooking," he said. "It's not trying to be anything... (the cooks behind these dishes) embrace their heritage and culture."
The 36-year-old, who owns seven restaurants in Melbourne and one in Greece, including his flagship offering "The Press Club", said whenever he eats food he enjoys abroad, he will inevitably consider new ways to adapt what he discovers to the dishes he creates.
"The worst you can do as a chef is (to) not open your eyes and be inspired by other chefs' culture, religions, cultures, countries, everything," he said.
"MasterChef Australia" airs at 7pm and 11pm from Mondays to Fridays on StarHub channel 514.