Calombaris sets sail to the Peninsula by Liz Rogers

Get ready for this Peninsula people! Self-proclaimed “Safety Beach boy” George Calombaris is bringing his wholesome Hellenic diet inspired restaurant Mastic down south and that’s just for starters.

Mr Calombaris has been a familiar face at Safety Beach for around 10 years. His children James (6) and Michaela (4) and his partner Natalie love the Peninsula lifestyle just as much as he does. “The kids’ eyes light up as soon as they know we are heading to the beach to see family and friends. We were down last Friday (March) and the weather was cracking! I mean, what’s not to love about it? I can get about without any hassles. Locals are friendly and the space… It’s a fabulous break from a hard working industry where it’s all about being busy and survival of the fittest.”

And that’s what George’s life is - insanely busy and fit for a hard worker. There’s 17 restaurants, ambassadorial positions for Swisse, Bulla Dairy, Qatar Airways and Bowel Cancer amongst others, and then of course he’s co-judge on the mega successful MasterChef Australia on Network 10. I ask him if he is brainstorming while sleeping? “I don’t like sitting still and am always obsessed by something. This season’s MasterChef is going to be better than ever. You know you can feel it in your gut. MasterChef is like an extension of your own kitchen and everyone gets treated with respect. This one’s unbelievable and we have a lot of fun too.”

“You don’t want to take things too seriously. That’s another thing I love about the Peninsula. Everyone is laid back, not too serious. Plus, there’s the best IGA on the PLANET in Dromana.” We ooh and ahhh together, “and Provincia is sensational,” he continues.

So, here’s the Mastic deal. George has had two executive chefs scouring the Peninsula for the best local produce and he’s bought 19 acres in Flinders for winter time planting (think 90 per cent fruit and vegetables). There’s no set date for the opening of his mini holistic village (Mastic, produce and health retreat) set on five acres in the heart of the Red Hill hinterland - but we’ll let you know as soon as we do! One thing’s for sure, George wants to plant roots on the Peninsula and the seeds are already sowing.

“The Peninsula is full of fabulous stuff. You know there’s a National Park behind the (Hummingbird) site where Indigenous Australians used to smoke fish in the hollows of the trees. Radek (Sali, his business partner) and I are keen to create a place where friends can experience food, lifestyle, health and happiness. I may even re-locate The Press Club…”

What? Never!

In the meantime, there’s the annual trip to Greece, television commitments, awards, cooking, family/friends and Peninsula produce and wineries to keep this Safety Beach boy very busy.

He’s got the salt of the sea and earth deep down inside, so there’s no stopping him.


MasterChef Australia season nine commences next month on Network Ten.