Over the first three weeks of October, I was involved in the Malaysia’s First Ever Blogger MasterChef Challenge, an event by Astro Ria to promote MasteChef Malaysia that is currently aired on Astro Ria channel 104.
For those who are in the dark all these while, MasterChef is a cooking reality show originally started in UK and now found its way to a few dozen countries, including Malaysia! The competition only allows amateur cooks to compete, the participants are everyday people who shares a passion for cooking.
You can catch MasterChef Malaysia on Astro Ria, the details as follow:
- MasterChef TX will be starting from 22nd October 2011, every Saturday – Wednesday, 9.00pm. Master Class will be on every Friday, 9.00pm.
The Blogger MasterChef event had 40 participants broken into 2 sessions, with the top 5 from each session compete at the final. Together with a professional chef (Chef Ryan Khang) and a representative from Astro Ria (Azlin Reza Azmi), yours truly was also chosen as one of the judges in this competition.
While the TV version has amateur cooks participating in it. Participants from this version are all bloggers.
GROUP 1 – 1/10/2011 – The Cooking House
The ingredients for the first 20 participants was chicken breast. Participants were given 2 slabs of chicken breast, a variety of ingredients, and condiments, a frying pan, and one hour to work with.
Other than the frying pan, there were also oven and microwave. There was no limit in the number of ingredients one can use either.
The above are just four of the 20 dishes, and to be honest I was very impressed. Many of these dishes not only tasted good, they look quite awesome too.
There were dishes with distinctive Malaysian taste, while others looked like something out of a high class restaurant. Chicken breast isn’t one of my favorite, but I took a few extra servings from some of these dishes.
Scoring on the invention test (the dish) was separated into 2 categories – maximum of 10 points for presentation, and another 10 for taste. For the skill test, Chef Ryan showed the contestants the proper way to make a poached egg (the instructions here), and another maximum of 10 points can be obtained.
This was my first stint as a judge in any competition, and short listing the top 5 from a group of 20 turned out to be a tougher job than I imagined, after tallying and some deliberation, we finally got it. It wasn’t an easy decision.
GROUP 2 – 8/10/2011 – The Cooking House
For the second group of 20 participants, instead of chicken breast, the main ingredient was fresh prawns.
While prawns are faster to cook and perhaps easier to season, the participants had to time their dish properly to ensure that the seafood does not stay on the table for too long before served.
Again, there were a lot of different creative ideas exhibited in this round. My particular favorites being the prawns lollipop on pineapple (pic above, bottom right corner) and the lemongrass prawn paste satay. Good stuff!
Raqim Ahmad from Astro Ria replaced Azlin as the judge in this round, after another poached egg skills test, we arrived at the final 5 contestants for the final round.
FINAL – 15/10/2011 – SACC Mall, Shah Alam
The final for the First Ever Blogger MasterChef was a much bigger deal, the venue was at the entrance of SACC Mall in Shah Alam. A stage was set up with 2 rows of temporary “kitchen” prepared for our 10 short listed contestants, and there was also the famous host, Zainal Alam Kadir from Astro emceeing for the event.
I think the invention challenge of the day threw a lot of contestants off a little, the content of the Mystery Box was none other than the one ingredient most of us had never handled before – Avocado.
Personally I’ve only had avocado in sushi and in Carl’s Junior’s burger (guacamole sauce). If I was competing, I’d probably had to google for a recipe (cheating already, hahaha)
The format of the competition was also slightly different, while there were many different condiments and secondary ingredients to choose from in the first two rounds, there were only 20 different ingredients/condiments in which each contestants was only allowed to choose 10 items within 30 seconds.
The limitation though, brought the best out of the participants.
Check out some of the dishes that the contestants managed to conjure up with. On the top left we have something that looks like a salad but with pancake ribbon (ultimately the winning dish), on the top right there’s the avocado “sushi” using egg as the skin and bread as the “rice”. It was another exhibition of creativity and cooking skills.
For the skill test, Chef Kerlley (replacing Chef Ryan) demonstrated a professional way to dice onion, and the contestants were given 15 onions each to see how many they could dice up in 10 minutes. At the end, no one managed to dice more than 3-4 onions, and 6 of the 10 contestants somehow managed to cut their fingers with the supplied ceramic knife.
I suppose this is to show that these are all amateur cooks, no? 😀
After some deliberation and tallying up the score, Yip Wan Yee was crowned the winner of the First Ever Blogger MasterChef Challenge, and she deserved it! To me her dish was not only creative, but nicely presented and tasted rather good too.
Wawa was the first runner up with her Mini Roti Puri filled with Avocado Custard on top of Creme Patissiere and top with Chocolate Ganache, not because of the longest dish name but for her daring attempt in the only pastry dish of the day, and it worked.
Mohd Zaid walked away with the best MasterChef Buzz blogger award, while the rest of the contestants received consolation prizes.
It was a pretty sweet competition, and really showcase the ability of so many young Malaysians’ cooking prowess. Now let me get back to the kitchen!