Milk tart and ‘smilies’ for Oz Masterchef judges

Koeksisters give them a headache‚ but smilies and milk tart rock‚ say Australian Masterchef judges on their visit to South Africa

 Tripe‚ curry‚ milk tart‚ braais and bunny chows are some of South African foods the trio of Matt Preston‚ Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris  have enjoyed in their visits to the country.

“I’m a big fan of street food. I must say that here [South Africa]‚ walky talkies (chickens’ feet)‚ smilies (sheep heads) and that strange bottom bit of the stomach that’s browny grey are my favourite‚” says  Preston.

The Aussies are in South Africa to attend the 20th Annual South African Council of Shopping Centres‚ which started on Wednesday at the Sandton Convention Centres. They will also be taking part in the Stop Hunger Now campaign.

Preston is a rugby fanatic and he says he will use the opportunity of being in the country to watch the match between South Africa and his home country on Saturday.

When people are not watching him on television‚ Preston indulges on junk food.

What makes a Masterchef winner according to him‚ is someone who has a “good palate‚ good food knowledge‚ perseverance‚ ability to get on with other people …”

One of the major differences between South Africa and Australia‚ the judges say‚ is their barbeque‚ which is done on gas compared to South African braais prepared on coal.

Mehigan finds South Africa “interesting” because “most of the culinary trends are here‚ interesting foods and the quality of food in restaurants. One that stands out is David Higgs’s Marbel in Saxonwold. It’s amazing. We had an incredible dinner.

“We went to the butcher shop too [for a braai]. It was an interesting kind of snap shot of a portion of the city [Johannesburg].”

The trio also loved Cape Town. Franschoek was their favourite destination‚ they said.

“In Franschoek‚ I was gobsmacked how beautiful [it is]‚ just the geography‚ the topography … It really is drop-dead gorgeous … I wanna go back‚” Mehigan added.

Masterchef Australia is currently on series eight and this according to Mehigan is “is a thrill for us. It’s a surprise. We never thought a cooking show like this would be on prime time television in Australia.”

Calombaris’s first visit to South Africa was in 2010 for the soccer World Cup. He visits the country often and was here last month.

“I came here and spent two weeks [in 2010] and I absolutely loved it. You’ve got a beautiful country.”

His favourite South African dish is a milk tart and Durban curry. He can’t stand koeksisters though‚ he says.

“The give me a sugar headache.”

Calombaris says South Africa has “amazing chefs” some of whom are his friends.


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