After the glitzy night that launched the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland to the media, we were invited into the Cinderella Ballroom of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel to partake in a dim sum workshop with the first season finalists of MasterChef Asia. Read more…
But first, what’s MasterChef Asia? According to our friends at Lifetime and A+E Networks Asia:
The home cooks participating in the competition include one contestant each from China, India, Taiwan and Vietnam; two from Indonesia; and three from Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
The first MasterChef Asia winner will receive their very own cookbook, a USD$50,000 cash prize, USD$10,000 worth of unique leisure experiences in Singapore, USD$15,000 of Panasonic home appliances, a paid internship at one of Carlton Hotel Singapore’s restaurants and a one week stay at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Each contestant brings to the show a plethora of culinary interests and unique cooking styles, ranging from traditional Asian, fusion, traditional and contemporary European as well as molecular cuisines.
The series’ ninth episode took the top eight contenders to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. The timing of their visit was perfect, for again, the resort is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Anyway, the episode, aptly titled Once Upon a Pressure Test, challenged the contestants to replicate Hong Kong Disneyland’s award-winning dishes.
Fast forward to more than two weeks after the episode’s airing date, five finalists were called into Hong Kong Disneyland once again to prepare mouthwatering dim sum under the supervision of the resort’s talented Chinese chefs and its Executive Chef himself, Rudolf Muller.
It goes without saying, of course, that the dim sum they were preparing that day was Disney-inspired—specifically, it was of the adorable Baymax from the animated feature Big Hero 6.
After a quick demonstration from the resort’s chefs, the MasterChef finalists went to their places. Joining the workshop that morning were Jasbir Kaur of Malaysia, Woo Wai Leong of Singapore, Marcus Low of Malaysia, Lennard Yeong of Singapore, and Lica Ibarra of the Philippines. The first three mentioned are actually among the show’s top four finalists.
The finalists took their ingredients and materials and started molding their dim sum. It was apparent that most if not all of them were having a hard time, since they have little or no experience making dim sum. As Leong, who’s Singaporean-Chinese, told me, “Just because you are exposed to a certain food frequently doesn’t mean you’d be able to prepare it easily.”
As they took time to prepare a set of two Baymax dim sum—it wasn’t a pressure test, after all—we had the chance to talk to some of the finalists. I was endeared to the sweet lady Jasbir, a Sarawak-based homemaker of Indian descent, who conceded, “I fold samosas a lot, but this is nothing like making samosas!” And along with Philippine media, I was also able to chat with our kababayan Lica, a former student athlete who now works in banking.
Minutes later, the MasterChef Asia finalists were done making their dim sum, and as we waited for their creations to be steamed, Executive Chef Rudolf Muller engaged us through a Q&A. I asked him how, with everything cooked to scale, he’s able to assure the consistent quality of the food at Hong Kong Disneyland, and he responded that he’s lucky to be working with an excellent set of chefs and cooks who he can supervise easily and depend on.
After the Q&A, we went to check the Baymax dim sum after steaming. Most of us agreed that Jasbir’s creations were the best (and cutest) in terms of form.
Arguably the best part of the workshop was the tasting. The resort’s chefs prepared an array of Disney dim sum, which were too beautiful to eat. The selection included their signature offerings, as well as specials that will be served in conjunction with the resort’s 10th anniversary.
MasterChef Asia airs every Thursday 9:00 PM, Philippine time (GMT +8) on Lifetime, which is available on Sky Cable, Destiny Cable, Cablelink, Dream, Signal, and other cable providers in the Philippines. The exciting finale will air on December 10, 2015. For more updates on the show and for exclusive content, follow the show’s website, MSN page, and Facebook.