'It's Not A Fad': MasterChef's BBQ Master Chris Badenoch Wants You To Get A Hibachi Grill
It's become a bit of a punchline of MasterChef: Back To Win, but one contestant's love of cooking over fire says the Hibachi grill is actually a tool everyone should embrace.
Chris is famous for his nose-to-tail philosophy when it comes to cooking meats, but his real love in (or out of) the kitchen is fire.
The primal feeling of cooking over coals, and some great produce is all Chris needs. His love of barbeque runs deep.
"I've got a lot of books on [barbeque], I've researched it a lot. I've got an American smoker, an Argentinian crucifix [Asado] and a Japanese Hibachi," he said.
Actually, he's got two Hibachis. "My father-in-law actually makes them. He's right into it, he's been doing that for a few years. It's nice to have an Australian-made one, the ones you see on the show are Japanese and they're wonderful.
"I've got one of those and I've also got one my father-in-law makes. They're wonderful things."
In the very first episode Chris put his hand up and cooked on a Hibachi, plating up a dry aged ribeye.
When it was suggested that he may have been behind the rise of popularity the grills have seen this season Chris laughed.
"I don't know if I can take credit for that. They're just wonderful. Every single contestant loves to cook on fire because it just adds so many layers of flavour you don't get from a pan.
"I know there’s been a bit of controversy saying, 'it’s the bloody Hibachi show', but so what? It’s awesome! And it’s not a fad. That’s the annoying thing that I’ve heard, 'oh the fad this year is hibachis'.
"I’ve had one for almost ten years. It’s not a fad, it’s just another piece of cooking equipment that happens to be bloody awesome."
The main reason Chris believes the show is seeing an uptick in Hibachi use isn't just because it seems trendy but because the returning contestants have more confidence in their skills in the kitchen than their first seasons. Coming from Season 1, Chris laughed at the idea of even having the option back in 2009 when the show debuted.
"We had nothing! We had no water baths, we didn't even have a fridge -- we couldn't keep stuff cold!"
With the returning competitors bringing their A-game to Back To Win, Chris said it was vital to use every trick in the book to make sure you were plating up a dish with the most flavour possible.
"The show has evolved over the decade or so that there’s so much more equipment, and we feel like we’ve got to start using those kinds of things.
"Everybody’s so bloody good at what they do -- you’ve got to find ways of getting more and more flavour into stuff and a hibachi is a really wonderful way to do that."
Though he's known for his love of meats, Chris also admitted his love of barbeque has evolved, and his intake of meat has dropped.
"I'm really championing vegetables on [the barbeque] now because it's all just meat, meat, meat and it drives me insane. You go to a barbeque festival and there's not a vegetable in sight.
"Simon Toohey cooks veg on the Hibachi all the time and it’s just delicious. There should be a lot more of that being pushed. Seafood, vegetables... You can cook everything on it, and it just will blow your mind how good all that stuff can be as well."