HE’S been called the “Justin Bieber of food” and now this bright-eyed 17-year-old has come to show MasterChef contestants twice his age how it’s done.
Flynn McGarry might still be in his teens, but he has already taken the restaurant world by storm, and will tonight descend upon MasterChef HQ to challenge contestants to recreate his 62-step Beet Wellington.
McGarry might be relatively unknown to local diners but, in New York, foodies and critics are scrambling for a seat at his pop-up dinner series, at a price of $US160 ($A215) per head (and that’s without the additional $US80 ($A107) per head for matching wines).
While his age might be part of the fascination, McGarry is no flash in the pan.
He has a cooking pedigree chefs with decades more experience would be proud of.
At the age of 12, this cooking wunderkind began hosting dinners in his parents Los Angeles home for a few of his mum’s friends, which eventually grew into a supper club called Eureka serving 20 guests 14 courses out of his kitchen and bedroom.
At 13, he began interning at Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA under chef Kris Morningstar, then later went on to stage at Eleven Madison Park under chef Daniel Humm as well as at Alinea, Next, and Modernist Cuisine in Seattle.
At 17, he now rents his own apartment in New York City and is in the process of opening his own fine dining restaurant, on top of becoming the youngest honoree on Zagat’s 30 under 30 Los Angeles list and landing a spot on Time magazine’s list of the 25 most influential teens.
When asked if he feels 17, McGarry is clear.
Theresa Visintin, Heather Day, Flynn McGarry, Chloe Bowles, Anastasia Zolotarev. Picture: Channel 10Source:Supplied
“No, not at all,” he told news.com.au. “I live on my own and am in the process of opening up my own restaurant and I travel a lot, it’s definitely not normal version of being 17, it’s my version of 17.
“I’ve stopped focusing on my age but it’s obviously going to be something people talk about.”
McGarry was so passionate about cooking that he began homeschooling at 13 so he could focus on building his chef skills.
“I never had to deal with high school, I’m very glad about that,” he says. “I never really enjoyed school and then when the whole cooking thing happened, I enjoyed it even less because I would be sitting in class doing algebra that I didn’t care about and the entire time just wanting to be cooking. And so I’m glad I chose to pursue that rather than stay and study various levels of maths that I won’t use.”
Now he’s been flown over to Australia to film his own episode of MasterChef, in the same vein that culinary celebrities Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson and Marco Pierre White have.
McGarry’s achievements are extraordinary, especially for someone who isn’t even legally old enough to drink the wine he has paired his food with.
“My business partner deals with all the wine, I trust that he is going to pair it well, it’s such an important part of a meal. He’s always making jokes if a wine is older than me, he often tries to serve a wine from the year I was born, because people love it, it’s ridiculous.”
McGarry says most of his friends are in their 20s and 30s because their lifestyle aligns more with his than with other 17 year olds who are still in high school.
“I can’t really surround myself with people my age who don’t have any drive, that would be really frustrating,” he adds.
But for all his success, McGarry says any suggestion he’s a budding businessman with loads of cash in the bank is just an illusion.
“People call me the Justin Bieber of food, they think I’m making tonnes of money, but I’m not.
“It’s a very, very expensive world, people look at that number ($US160 per head) and think ‘wow, that’s huge’ but then you look at what we spend on ingredients, staff, rent in New York and all these things and the chef is usually the last one to get the cheque.
“I bought myself a really nice sweater and have regretted it ever since because I think I could have just spent it on actual things that I need. It’s a great sweater though and it gets cold in New York. It was over $400 dollars. I’m not going to buy it again.”
Tonight, the MasterChef contestants will battle it out over two and a half hours to recreate McGarry’s Beet Wellington at 7.30pm on Ten.
Now, my question for you is: “what is that thing you said is stopping you from going all out to make exploits?