A restaurant manager from Penang was crowned (more like “apron-ed”) champion by Chef Wan himself – that was the dramatic story that unfolded at the grand finale of the first ever R.AGE Food Fight. And now, you get to see exactly how it all went down.
The R.AGE Food Fight was a competition to find Malaysia’s next food celebrity, and the full video series is now online at rage.com.my/foodfight.
The series follows the five finalists’ journey throughout the competition, starting with the exclusive masterclasses they received before the finale. One saw them cooking to impress a legit French master chef, Rodolphe Onno from Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia, and another with Malaysia’s original food celebrity, Chef Wan, who showed them how to work it in front of a camera.
“I’ve done a lot of cooking workshops before, but never a workshop where I had to teach people how to teach people how to cook,” Chef Wan said. #Revolutionary.
Armed with their new-found skills, the finalists had one final challenge – cook a dish with palm oil (the competition’s featured ingredient) and demonstrate it in front of a live audience, the five judges and our cameras at the world-class kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia.
They also had to serve the food to said judges – Chef Wan, Chef Onno, Chef Darren Chin of DC Restaurant, food blogger KY Speaks and performing artiste/restaurateur Tan Chung Liang. No pressure, right?
That restaurant manager from Penang who came out tops was Nurilkarim Razha, 26, who only just outscored the runner-up, 31-year-old restaurant owner Ahong Yeang, a MasterChef Malaysia top two finalist.
But that narrow margin made a world of difference for Razha. He walked away with RM10,000, a food column in The Star, a Wüsthof professional knife set (which comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you know it’s good), and a position as the host for an original webseries produced by R.AGE.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” said Nurilkarim immediately after the finale. “I knew by watching everybody else that it was going to be a tough fight.”
One person he was referring to was Yeang, a firm favourite among the judges.
“Ahong was completely himself on set, and that’s really important,” said Chef Wan. “He’s got that great personality and he can attract and pull people in.”
Chin added: “I actually overlooked Ahong’s video submission, and I kind of regret it right now. You can see that this guy has huge potential to be a celebrity chef.”
Yeang banked heavily on his magnetic personality and outrageous humour, but ultimately it was Nurilkarim’s encyclopaedic knowledge of local ingredients and cooking methods which edged him ahead.
“He’s the whole package,” Chin concluded.
Regardless, the five finalists – picked from over 50 video submissions – all proved to have earned their spot in the Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia kitchen.
Graphic designer and home baker Li-Anne Kuek, 25, was a crowd favourite right from the start. Singer and food blogger Kelly Siew, 33, brought a real healthy approach to cooking; and Ashley Pan, 23, the youngest contestant, brought a refreshingly optimistic view on how food can make the world a better place. In the eyes of the judges, all the finalists’ futures were bright.
“God, I think I have to retire soon now!” said Chef Wan with a laugh. “Hang my crown lah.”
Go to rage.com.my/foodfight to watch all the episodes of R.AGE Food Fight and gain access to a lot more content, including the finalists’ amazing palm oil recipes, and our judges’ palm oil cooking tips.