I had lost track of time, day and date. I was spending an unreasonable amount of time with nine others. I was getting to know way too many details about them in such a short amount of time. A fun bunch of people, I had an eerie feeling that I would be stuck with them for life.
The Top Ten: I saw myself nodding to everything they had to say about themselves. It was bizarre. It felt like they were describing me. I realised that I was with nine others who were as idiosyncratic as me. A moment in my life that I was never going to get back. I made up my mind. I was going to ensure that these friendships last, for life.
MasterChef Kitchen had become my home and the top ten my family. I have never been this happy.
My health recovered not as fast as I wanted but I reminded myself that it was a competition! I needed to push harder, think clearer and do better. I was exhausted, could barely eat and only craved sleep.
A mystery box. That too a first in MasterChef Singapore. Always delivered on giving the chills!! (Or maybe the Panadol had worn out, ha ha..) I love a mystery box. The concept is a genius. A test to test the creative. The mystery box challenge is when you have a box of ingredients that don’t necessarily pair well or are not traditionally cooked together into a dish. I always felt I had been in training for this challenge. I am known to be random and out-of-box.
At home, nine times out ten I would enter the kitchen rummaging through the fridge, pantry (my mini Mustafa) undecided pulling out a mystery box of ingredients. I would start with some vague idea and build as I cook. Ten times out of ten the husband would shout out enquiring, "what's for breakfast/lunch/dinner?" and I would all times answer "I don't know!" Most of these "I don't know's" have been happy tummy memories. So I was led to believe that I had this mystery box kind of challenge all figured out.
I surprised myself, not in a good way. I could have blamed it on my state of health, but then again I love a mystery box.
I used the Fish as I would not cook Beef for religious reasons. I attempted to create a sauce with Ginger, Pomegranate and Lime. But vinegar is a very poor substitute to a lime. I had the flavour combination of Ginger-Pomegranate molasses- Lime Juice-Red chilli-Sugar-Salt in mind. Scream!! it did not work. Sigh!!
I was so disappointed with myself that I tried to make up with a well-plated dish. But what is the point! Aaarhh!! In my opinion, my worst dish in the competition. No surprises that my dish never made it to the top.
I was just thanking my stars that it was not an elimination challenge. That said, every challenge mattered. I promised myself I would never again fare this poorly. Never.
Then came the double elimination challenge. Gulp! 2 people that meant a higher probability of going home. I thought to myself. If I took this plunge, came all this way then I must give it my all. I decided to go big or go home.
The double-elimination challenge was a Chinese invention test. Chinese cuisine involves a lot of skill and technique. My thoughts skirted around showing my skills in this challenge. I thought of making dumplings immediately.
But do I have the time!? How do I make this special, a MasterChef worthy?
I decided to go with non-traditional ingredients. Salmon with some non-traditional vegetables. I wanted to ensure the dish delivered on flavours.
I made a chilli oil with whole spices including Schezwan peppercorns to serve with the Salmon dumplings. This dish was a big risk!
Halfway into the challenge, I realised that the dough had not rested enough. I knew it was not going to be easy folding the dumplings. I also realised that I did not have the time to steam them well. The quickest solution was to make them a Guotie, potsticker!
The Salmon Goutie had scorched bottoms with steamed tops but the folds not as good as I would have liked them to be. I named the 锅贴, "Don't be a sticker, pot stickers!"
The judges liked the dish. Phew! Phew! Every time I took a risk, put myself out there in front of the judges, it was a mix of emotions. Anxious, if they would read the story on my plate.
The competition was getting exhausting, then again exhilarating but also emotional. It was the last time for 2 people in the MasterChef Kitchen.
It turned out that Joshua and Vidhya, two amazing individuals had to leave the MasterChef Kitchen. Both of them accomplished so much even before they came to be a part of MasterChef Singapore. Joshua won the Sake Sommelier of the year 2018. Vidhya is a doctor in Singapore. Need I say more!!
It was heart-breaking. When the judges said, this is your last time in the MasterChef Kitchen; it felt like someone was tearing us from the inside. We all ran, hugged each other only because we needed to hug it out.
I know that the friends you keep are most important in life. Joshua and Vidhya are close friends and will always remain part of this fantastic experience of my life.
The MasterChef Kitchen has become bigger with more cooktops to spare. I needed to push harder, but I was so unsure. Should showcase Indian, fusion or world cuisines? Should I showcase vegetarian? I needed to make sure I was in the running.
Check out my website: www.kechilkitchen.com.