Nerves, cameras can make all chefs uneasy: Chef Mark Olive

New Delhi, Feb 16 : Australian chef Mark Olive, a judge on the Australian reality show "The Chefs Line", says nervousness and the spotlight of the camera, can be a game-changer for contestants -- home cooks and professionals alike.

The show, which airs in India on Zee Cafe, is a cooking show which involves home cooks competing against a known restaurant's head chef and his/her team.

Impressed by the talent, Olive told IANS in an email interview: "It is surprising the knowledge these home cooks have shown and won against many of the apprentices and sous chefs.

Nerves and cameras are enough to make people uneasy and plays on the outcome during the series."

Olive, who has been in the food industry for more than 30 years, says all the chefs get the same "brief" and it completely depends on their "interpretation, artistic flair and taste of the dish" which go into the decision-making process for the judges.

"It really is what is presented on the day! We all have our shockers and mishaps," he said.

On the importance of presentation of a dish, Olive said it depends on "the situation and environment and your audience".

"Presentation is important as you want to impress your guests and highlight the produce that's on your plate, but it's less important if you're having an event with friends and family still producing amazing food," he said.

What is the key to being the perfect chef?

"Passion for food, knife skills, creativity, timing and understanding what the career demands on your body, and personal life is what we take into working as a chef," said Olive, who has his own TV cooking series, "The Outback Cafe" and has released a cookbook by the same name, based on the series.

He is known for advocating indigenous plants and meats and has taught his viewers how to use bush foods, herbs, seeds and edible flowers.

Also known as the Australian aboriginal chef, Olive believes it is important to understand what indigenous produce or native foods is all about, including its proteins, the fruits, plants, the flavour, texture and aromas.

"As you can appreciate, Australia is a continent not just a country and there are many regional produce varieties that are available in the north, but not in the south.

I see it like being a painter!

"Once you know how to mix colours, textures and creativity with paint, it is the same as working with food! It has taken years and years for myself experimenting with what is seasonally available but now we are seeing cookbooks featuring indigenous produce which is fantastic," he said.

How much does he know about Indian cuisine and the chefs hailing from the country?

"I have eaten a lot of Indian food but I love making Indian curries from scratch which has given me an understanding, not all, into spices and flavours associated with which region it may come from.

I was fortunate enough to feature on a segment with a well-known Indian chef when he visited Australia.

Nita Mehta has some great cookbooks I have thumbed through," said Olive.

(Kishori Sud can be contacted at



Source: IANS