Ice cream with scotch? Celebrity chef Ben Ungermann talks about that and his experiences in India
Meeting celebrity chef Ben Ungermann, dubbed as ‘king of ice cream’ is a reason enough to be excited, especially if you have watched him cook his way to the finals of MasterChef Australia 2017. He was in Hyderabad as a part of his five-city tour for Johnnie Walker Gourmet Experiences Season Three. The former model has a charming demeanour and it dosen’t surprise us that he has fans cheering for him whenever he gets behind his ice cream churner. We caught up with the Australian chef, last weekend, during his masterclass at Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel. Excerpts:
Desserts were once your weak spot. But after MasterChef Australia you ended up with the moniker of ‘ice cream king.’ How did the transition happen?
Before I participated in MasterChef Australia, I had actually never made a dessert in my life! When I entered the competition, I was only cooking savoury food. But that’s when the producers told us, ‘If you don’t become an all-rounder, you won’t last long.’ I took that advice and experimented with ingredients like bacon and beer to create new ice cream flavours. There was no looking back post that.
How did the reality show change you as a chef?
Shannon Bennett, our mentor in Masterchef Australia, once said that the show is one of the hardest apprenticeships around the world. When you are there, you either sink or you grow. Fortunately for me, it was the latter and that made me more confident.
What are your first memories associated with cooking?
I started cooking when I was 15. I used to live with my grandma back then. The first thing she ever taught me to make was a shortbread and even today, I use the same recipe.
How was your stint in India?
This is my third trip to the country and I have learnt quite a bit on the job, while curating the Johnnie Walker Gourmet Experiences. There were so many different food and cocktail pairings we worked on. But I think the next time I come, I will make time to explore the country. I have heard that every 100 kilometres you drive, the food is different again. So, there’s so much here to see, taste and experience.