Gary Mehigan - All in the Family
MasterChef's Gary Mehigan believes he is fortunate to be able to do the things he loves - travel, eat, cook and talk about food. He readily admits he owes it all to his family.
Most chefs recount it was the influence of a family member that first put them on their culinary path. UK-born Gary Mehigan is no exception. Food was at the heart of everything his family did and in fact, he had more than one positive role model.
"Family has been crucial for me growing up and certainly falling in love with food, that is where it all started," Gary tells me when we sit down for a chat on the set of the Selector cover shoot.
"Mum was a really simple cook. Nothing she ever did was extravagant or expensive, but it was always home cooked, whether it was pies and peas or a cupcake to take to school.
"I remember her pulling toffee. It was a real skill and we thought mum was really clever. So we always ate very simple home cooked food, this was back in the day when people didn't walk along the streets with lattes in their hands and eating food. For us, getting take-away, which would be something like fish 'n' chips, was a bit of a rare treat.
"But the real basis for why I became a chef was my grandad - he was a chef. He had a beautiful garden and he used to bake bread. It sounds a bit romantic, but I don't think it really clicked at the time. I wanted to be like my dad, be an engineer, be a fireman, a firefighter, anything but what grandad was, which was a chef.
"But certainly, when I got a bit older I started to realise what grandad was doing was very tactile and very interesting and he always seemed to be having fun. Whereas my dad was always very serious - he was very calculating, a very quiet man, and I thought - I am not like my dad. I am like my grandad - happy, always chatting, engaged in something textural, so that's when I really started taking notice.
"I had never been to a fancy restaurant, I had never eaten fancy food, we had never gone overseas. Our holidays were camping in Devon and Cornwall. But when grandad cooked, there was something amazing about that. It was always interesting. I loved that."
Read the full interview and Gary's fantastic recipes in the July/August edtion of Selector. Available in good Newsagents or in your next Wine Selectors wine delivery