This post is a tad late, but I couldn’t not write about not write about my fan girl moment on the blog, so here goes. I was invited by my friend Rushina to her beautiful studio, A Perfect Bite, this time not as a teacher (I did tell you that I take an occasional bread baking class there, right?) but as a participant for an event. Matt Moran of Masterchef Australia fame was to arrive in Mumbai as part of a Tourism Australia promotion, and Rushina was hosting an interaction with him. I cleaned out my calendar for the day and counted down to the day. I have been a religious follower of Masterchef Australia since the day it aired in India, and my life would be a lie if I did not admit that each episode has always taught me something. I was in awe of Matt Moran (and the other three, of course; and Maggie Beer!) and would have defied the god of death (still will) to meet any of them.

Saee and Matt

Picture courtesy: APB Cook Studio

The moment I stepped inside the familiar studio, I realized that it had undergone a radical transformation. LOOK at that table. Rushina really outdid herself with this one. When I teach at the studio, this very table is another kind of heaven for me with flours, yeast and trimmings laid out for me to play with. But I digress.

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Matt arrived on the scene, and a group of us food writers and bloggers jostled for space either close to or bang opposite him. (Guess who got lucky!) He had only stepped on Mumbai shores a few hours ago on what was his first ever trip to India. This was a good thing because he came with a clean slate and was very receptive to all the suggestions and gyaan we kept doling out to him. I think I spoke a bit much out of nervousness–yapping on about everything from how cuisine changes in India every 10 kilometers as our dialects do, and how we don’t eat seafood in Shraavan not just because it is a month of fasting and detox but also because we respect the sea and do not disturb the breeding period of the fish. Each of us got a chance to ask Matt a question, and these really brought out aspects of his makeup as a chef and as a person. Matt has been shooting for Paddock to Plate, a new series, in which he brings to the screen a subject close to his heart–farm to table. He talked very fondly about one of his restaurants, where they serve food cooked from produce that is grown on a farm just alongside. Simply imagining the freshness of that produce got me excited.

Matt Moran

The table was, by then, filled with some excellent Australian wines, and I indulged myself a bit. There were some of my favorite cheeses (a particularly nice young Stilton with mango and candied ginger–yum!) so that wasn’t difficult at all. The team at APB Cook Studio had prepared an elaborate lunch of dishes cooked from Matt’s own repertoire, and although one has never tasted the original, recreations were simply superb. My favorites included a Curried Potato and Quail Egg Salad and a hearty Chicken Stew with Chickpeas that reminded me so much of North Indian cooking. Matt had to leave in a while but we were kept busy with the FoodFood team asking us for bytes and us bungling up thanks to the wine!

Matt Moran is no longer part of the Masterchef Australia show, a decision he says, was consciously taken because he wanted to be closer to cooking food rather than simply judging it. I think it’s a gutsy move and an honest one, too. I respect him a bit more just for that. I will leave you with the few images I have from the event before I decided on concentrating on enjoying myself!

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