MasterChef at Bunker Bay and Margaret River

Masterchef judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris at the Leeuwin Estate Safari Club. Photo. Endemol Shine Australia
Masterchef judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris at the Leeuwin Estate Safari Club. Photo. Endemol Shine Australia

Geez, does WA know how to do Chardonnay...

George Calombaris

Chef, restaurateur and Masterchef judge George Calombaris does not need a lot of convincing to visit one of his favourite places in Australia.

In the region this week to film scenes from the final weeks of the 11th season of the popular cooking competition, Calombaris said he had lost count of the incredible memories he had chalked up in Margaret River since he first visited as part of Gourmet Escape.

"I was at Bunker Bay two days ago for the weekend and I was just standing out on the beach, thinking 'how goddamn beautiful is this?!'," he told the Mail.

"On this trip we also had time to stop in at Bunbury, which is a place I've not spent much time in before."

Pausing on the way down south, Calombaris called in to visit his ex-employee and Market Eating House owner Brenton Pyke, and said he was impressed by both the city and the restaurant.

"The food was absolutely on point and it was really great to see our old head chef from Melbourne turning out these great dishes here in WA."

After a decade of traversing the country to film the television series, Calombaris said he relished the chance to experience more of the West.

"You forget how big our country really is," he said.

"We show the Sydney Harbour Bridge and these Melbourne laneways and we say 'this is Australia', and it is, but it's so much more than that. This here, standing on the beach or in the forest, this is Australia."

Calombaris spent a peaceful morning amongst the trees after a high intensity cooking challenge at Leeuwin Estate's Safari Club on Monday night.

"It's incredible out here, your mind just clears. I've been sitting outside since early this morning, listening to the birds and the wind, just taking it all in.

"Last night's challenge was full on for the contestants and it was a bit tricky for one of the teams but that's all part of the experience, these are home cooks who are tackling challenges they've never done before."

He said one of the attractions of the region was the opportunity for unique experiences at every turn.

"There was a moment about four years ago when I was at a wine tasting with Vanya Cullen, standing there with Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Heston Blumenthal and Simon LeBon from Duran Duran and I'm thinking, where else can something like this happen?"

Production will head to Rottnest Island this week for a masterclass before filming of the final episodes begins.