George Calombaris is passionate and hard working. At the young age of 36, he has achieved many accolades in his career. George is internationally renowned as one Australia’s best chefs. His passion for food and determination to achieve resembles his amazing success in the hospitality industry.
Growing up in a Greek family, there was no option but to love food. George’s life was surrounded by good food. With his late grandmother and mother forever in the kitchen perfecting traditional and family recipes, George soon got a taste for cooking. He studied to be a chef and was trained using strict traditional French culinary methods that he later married with his beloved Greek cuisine.
What makes George such a success is his ability to take a risk. George made his mark as The Age Good Food Guide ‘Young Chef of the Year’ in 2004, when he began to experiment in new style of gastronomy and put the then restaurant, ‘Reserve’, on the foodies map, winning Best New Restaurant in that same year.
As a result, in 2004, Global Food and Wine Magazine voted George as one of the Top 40 Chefs of Influence in the World.
In 2006 George found the opportunity to go back to his roots and started the Modern Greek culinary wave in Australia, and perhaps the world. He opened his first restaurant The Press Club where he showcased and continues to showcase his brilliance in Modern Greek cuisine. In 2008 The Press Club won ‘Best New Restaurant’ by The Age Good Food Guide and George won ‘Chef of the Year’.
The Press Club is the foundation of George’s restaurant empire. His incredible creativity, foresight and business acumen have seen successes with his venues. He constantly pushes the food boundaries and strives to provide the best food and service. George loves to be one step ahead. So in early 2014 he opened Press Club Projects, a food development and recipe-testing kitchen (designed for The Press Club) that is also open for select guests to sit, observe and dine watching the master himself at work.
George’s dream was to create an empire that pays homage to the different styles of Greek cuisine. He opened the adored ‘Hellenic Republic’ (now in two Melbourne locations) that provides delicious Greek tavern-style food. Then he opened the bustling ‘Gazi’ restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD, for those wanting a chic Greek street food experience and more recently he opened his chain of ‘Jimmy Grants’ stores for those wanting tasty souvlaki with a twist. One would say that he has successfully covered the Greek culinary market nicely.
Sharing his culinary passion with the world has also seen him write numerous cookbooks including The Press Club, My Hellenic Heart, Georgie Porgie, Your Place or Mine, Cook with Us and the soon to be released (in 2015) My Big Fat Greek Cookbook.
In 2009 George was selected to be a judge on MasterChef Australia. Voted one of Australia’s most popular TV shows, it has taken the world by storm. Going into its 7th season, MasterChef is shown in over 100 countries around the world and has become the benchmark for MasterChef programs worldwide.
Although George is a well-known popular judge on MasterChef, George is firstly ‘a chef’ with a strong passion for food and teaching amateurs (on and off TV) how to achieve their culinary dreams.
George’s popularity and credibility as a chef also sees him collaborating and partnering with charities like Bowel Cancer Australia, The Starlight Foundation and Zoos Victoria, and organizations like Thermomix, SWISSE Global, Vittoria Coffee and Bulla.