18 is a magic number as it ushers you into adulthood. MasterChef Singapore was a coming of age for me. I was confirmed to be in the top 18.
The casting team took care of us through a hard and gruelling day. As our custodians, they were continually carrying our water, wallets, phones and tending to our wellbeing while we performed our challenges.
The top 18 are a fun bunch, each a brushstroke to the canvas that became the very frame of season 1. I struggled to remember names, 18 is magic but a significant number you see! I was exhausted, exhilarated all the same time. The experience of success and scare, a glimpse into days ahead.
The day also marked the first glimpse of MasterChef Singapore judges Audra Morrice, Bjorn Shen and Damian D'Silva. The three judges are amazing people and chef extraordinaire. They have very distinct styles and compliment each other.
The sambal challenge, a test of speed. My strategy for this challenge was to get it right the first time. I made sure I balanced out the sambal with spicy-sweet-sour-salty flavours. I made it to safety as all the judges liked my sambal.
The next challenge was the fried rice, a deceivingly simple dish. One of the most crucial aspects of the competition is to understand the ingredients. The rice looked a bit well done; therefore I chose vegetables that would lend a bite to the dish. High flame cooking is fundamental to Chinese cooking style, and I cranked up the heat as soon as I added the rice to give it a wok-hei effect. The judges love my fried rice. I was one amongst the top 2 dishes for the challenge!
I am super thrilled to be in the top 10 of the first season of MasterChef Singapore!
Battling the top 10 was no joke, with the flu. Yes!! I got the flu. Can you imagine, body ache, hot eyelids, I was dragging myself through the challenge. Pill-popping gave me an asbestos tongue, and if that is not a disadvantage in a cooking competition, I don’t know what is!
I was quarantined most of the time so that others don’t contract the flu. If it were not for the incredibly kind production crew and all my fellow participants, I don’t think I would have made it through.
The big boss gave us a speech. He asked us to trust the production team. Encouraged us to be ourselves, have no pretence. I was burning in fever. But mentally I made a note not be conscious of the camera. Here was an opportunity, the only time in my life that I was doing something that I genuinely wanted, not because someone told me so. I was never this sick and happy.
We are all were introduced to the MasterChef Kitchen. It was stunning. The Copper Kitchen Aid, the pots- pans showcased on the walls and a fully equipped pantry. So stunning, a dream kitchen, Sigh!
Once we walked to our station, I noticed a cloche on the table. Under the cloche was a picture of my husband, son and me. The three people I love the most!
A little voice in my head asked me to focus on the challenge, and I placed the picture safely behind the knife stand. I was anticipating some instructions on the challenge and looked around. I was shocked! Most of them were crying, some weeping. All look like need more than just tissues.
The judges asked us to feel the moment. I quickly grabbed the frame. I was under a lot of peer pressure. I tried hard to jog my memory. Tried to think of a moment when the husband was romantic. Nothing was helping.
But wait a minute! I never cried at my wedding! I would never cry. I was destined to make people laugh. I could not.
I cooked my signature. A Turkish egg which is a poached egg served over baked yoghurt and chilli oil that my husband loves. Instead of the chilli oil, I garnished with a spicy coriander-coconut chutney that is my son's favourite. And because I needed to acknowledge "me" in the picture, I served with laccha parathas that I love! I used sumac to salt but realised it was a mistake. But phew! I live to fight another day, another challenge.
Check out my website: www.kechilkitchen.com