Malaysian homemakers Jasbir Kaur and Sophia Zulkifli, and bank executive Marcus Low competed alongside other home cooks from China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam in MasterChef Asia. In an e-mail interview, they tell us about their television experience, what they think of the judges and some of their favourite foods to cook.
Hat-wearing Marcus Low studied in Melbourne and MasterChef Australia was the constant topic around the water cooler. He watched the episodes and thought he would like to try being on the show too.
The 24-year-old bank executive has enjoyed cooking since his teens and finds inspiration from established chefs, as well as modern and molecular cuisine. Low believes his strength lies in his unique ingredient pairings. He thrives under pressure and sees MasterChef Asia as an opportunity to showcase Malaysian cuisine to the world.
What have you learned from being on TV?
It has taught me that it is a lot more exhausting than what it seems on TV. Cooking for this show has given me more respect for the other MasterChef contestants because the challenges that they face seem all right on TV, but now that I have experienced it, I really know how difficult it can really be.
What is the most daunting thing about being on TV?
The fact that cameras are all around you looking at you cooking. All this while I have been so used to cooking within the confines of my own home kitchen whilst being watched only by my family members. Now I am cooking with people I am unfamiliar with; on top of that, a machine that watches your every single move. That is daunting!
Which of the judges on MasterChef Asia scares you the most? Why?
In all honesty, none of them. I did not feel intimidated or scared. Instead, I was looking forward to hearing what the highly qualified judges thought about my food because we are here to be judged as cooks.
What is the No.1 mistake that people make in the kitchen?
Improper method of cutting food. It is important to always curl your fingers while gripping the food item. This prevents you from having an additional finger element in your dish!
What is the most important thing you use in the kitchen?
The oven. I love desserts and I love cakes, so I utilise the oven a lot. In addition, the oven is good to slowly cook a steak and even keep plates warm.
Which do you do first: Decide on what to cook before you get your ingredients, or get your groceries before coming up with a dish?
I will always do a combination of both. At times, I will decide on an idea but bearing in mind what are the ingredients that are in the store. But sometimes, I just go to the store to see what I can make with a rough food idea in mind.
What is your favourite meal to cook?
Desserts! Something that melts in the mouth but has a crunchy element, a sour element and different colours.
You obviously enjoy cooking. What are some of your other interests?
I enjoy playing the guitar and singing. I also enjoy playing football and video games like most young men do. I used to do part-time magic shows as well!
If you could cook dinner for anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
It would be Chef Heston Blumenthal. I admire his determination, innovation and his philosophy of food and I would like to work with him one day.
If you opened a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?
It would be more of a pastry shop with plated dessert with a dessert degustation menu drawing inspiration from local ingredients and food.
MasterChef Asia S1 airs every Thursday at 9pm on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709).