Monday, 24 August 2015

Masterchef Asia; For home cooks across Asia

Asian food is truly one of a kind. The smell, the texture and the exuberant colour display could send tingling sensations to your tummy. The invasion starts at your nostril from the aroma in the kitchen followed by salivation in the mouth region and before you know it, you have just had a bowl of lovely steamy, spiced curry. 

Asian food, you either like it or hate it. Just like our famous durian, the king of fruits

To put Asian food to test and decide which country has the best home-cook to offer, Masterchef; the world famous cooking show, has come up an English version of Masterchef Asia. A platform for contestants from across Asia to battle it out and showcase their skills, on air, under the guidance of three judges: Susur Lee, Bruno Menard and Audra Morrice

Fifteen contestants have been put under the grill in the Masterchef kitchen (Singapore) to off-site and overseas challenges. Many honed their skills episode after episode and those who faltered were eliminated at the end of each episode. Catch their tears, laughter and drama on Astro channel 709, September 3rd Thursday at 9pm.

Three out fifteen contestants are from Malaysia. Two homemakers; Jasbir Kaur, 54 & Sophia Zulkifli, 30 and the other a banker, Marcus Low, 24 years old. 

On August 20, these three contestants along with the MasterChef Asia judges; Susur Lee (Hong Kong culinary genius), Bruno Menard (3-Michelin Starred chef) and Audra Morrice (Australia Masterchef finalist) made a special appearance at the Westin Hotel KL. 

The contestants displayed their skills by attempting a timed mystery box challenge. Some of the ingredients I could name from the mystery box were prawns, radish, carrot, lime, pineapple, eggs, coconut milk, fresh herbs, ginger, oil, honey and soy sauce.

The winner of this challenge was Marcus who was the only one to dish out a dessert from the mystery box. He took a gamble and surprised the judges with his choice of pineapple fritters from the mystery box which was shouting, butter prawns.

Marcus prides himself on his unique ingredient pairings, which he clearly proved in this mystery box challenge. He believes Masterchef Asia will be his introduction to the culinary world.

Jasbir is the most senior contestant age wise, in this competition and is fondly known as the spice queen due to her in depth knowledge of spices. She hopes to inspire the younger generation by imparting her culinary skills of traditional Punjabi cuisine. She also plans to publish a cookbook focusing on traditional Punjabi food.

She made coconut marinated butter prawns served along with pickled radish and caramelised pineapples which won her two votes from the judges.  
Want to know her more? Read up on her interview with AsiaSamachar

Sophia hopes she can turn  her daily home cooking into entering the culinary world as a chef, caterer or a food critique.

A glimpse of Masterchef life through the eyes of the contestants

They are honoured to have been given this opportunity to learn from the judges. The show has given them so much confidence which has helped them become better cooks. They have learned how to work under pressure and gained new skills in terms of proper food preparations and management. Discipline and time management are very important aspects to be successful in this field and not to forget, a clean and tidy kitchen. 

The Masterchef Asia kitchen has many similarities to the Australian set. Food is delivered daily and vegetables as frequently as possible to ensure they are fresh and of best quality.
Quality of ingredients is very important to ensure good quality of food served.

Contestants are required to wear chef shoes which has a stainless steel tip and are slip resistant to ensure their safety while working. They each have their own workstation (but are randomly stationed in each episode) but share a common pantry and lounge.

Each episode challenge may take place in the Masterchef kitchen to off-site and overseas challenges. The 15 episode will culminate in one home-cook wining the title of the first ever Masterchef Asia. Winner will take home their very own cookbook, a USD$50,000 cash prize, USD$10,000 worth of unique leisure experiences in Singapore, USH$15,000 of Panasonic home appliances, a paid internship at one of Carlton Hotel Singapore's restaurant and a one week stay at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

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A peek into some of the drama from episode one to four.

(premiering September 3rd, Thursday at 9pm on Astro Ch 709)