All sys­tems go

Astro rolls out its line-up of judges for re­al­ity TV cook­ing pro­gramme Masterchef Malaysia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By SHEELA CHAN­DRAN

WITH barely two weeks left to the pre­miere of Astro Ria’s MasterChef Malaysia, view­ers get to find out more about the panel of judges, the for­mat and the 40 fi­nal­ists of the lo­cal ver­sion of the pop­u­lar re­al­ity TV pro­gramme. The com­pet­i­tive cook­ing re­al­ity show, based on MasterChef US, MasterChef Aus­tralia and Ju­nior MasterChef Aus­tralia, will fea­ture five judges – Chef Jo­hari Edrus, 55; Chef Priya Menon, 53; Chef Ya­haya Has­san, 49; Chef Zu­bir Md Zain, 45; and Chef Mohd Nadzri Redzuawan, 29. Be­sides play­ing hosts, the judges will eval­u­ate par­tic­i­pants’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties and progress through­out the com­pe­ti­tion.

Those fa­mil­iar with the MasterChef se­ries may find this a lit­tle odd – why so many judges?

Although they are five judges in to­tal, only three will be fea­tured in each episode.

Astro Vice Pres­i­dent (Malay lan­guage busi­ness) Khairul An­war Salleh said this ad­di­tion was a con­scious de­ci­sion. “We started off with three judges but added two more to spice up to the show. The judges will be ro­tated weekly as each judge has dif­fer­ent strengths. Some judges make ex­cel­lent coaches but are cam­era shy. It is dif­fi­cult to find a chef who ex­cels in host­ing, teach­ing and judg­ing a re­al­ity TV cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion! With five chefs to take turns, there’s a cer­tain amount of flex­i­bil­ity and we can show­case the best of their tal­ents.”

Fans of the se­ries should also know that a few home­grown chefs will also ap­pear as celebrity judges ... but no clues were given as to who they may be.

Khairul did, how­ever, ex­plain that the panel of judges was se­lected through an au­di­tion process, based on their cre­den­tials and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Chef Jo­hari has over 35 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the culi­nary field and is the former pres­i­dent of Chef As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia. He is Univer­siti Utara Malaysia’s Fac­ulty of Tourism & Hos­pi­tal­ity’s fel­low ad­junct and culi­nary ad­vi­sor at UiTM, Tay­lor’s Col­lege and Kolej Da­mansara Utama (KDU) Univer­sity Col­lege.

Chef Priya holds an ad­vanced diploma in law! The former In­dian chef at Car­cosa Seri Ne­gara is author of sev­eral books in­clud­ing Health Travel Malaysia, Med­i­cal Travel Malaysia, Fun With Food and My Kitchen To Yours. She also con­trib­utes write-ups for The Star’s food por­tal

Chef Yahya’s cre­den­tials in­clude be­ing a chef at MAS’s flight cater­ing and KL-based Equa­to­rial Ho­tel and Sing­gah­sana Ho­tel. He has lec­tured in col­leges such as KDU Univer­sity Col­lege, Sun­way Col­lege and Flamingo Col­lege.

Chef Zu­bir earned his diploma in Chef Train­ing in 1988 and has worked as ex­ec­u­tive sous chef at KL’s Le Meri­dien Ho­tel. The former UiTM lec­turer trained un­der renowned Swiss chef An­ton Mosi­mann in Lon­don.

Chef Mohd Nadzri, is the son of fa­mous Chef Wan. He holds a de­gree in Culi­nary Arts and Ho­tel Cater­ing and has worked at Ris­torante Babbo in New York. Chef Nadzri, fondly known as Chef Riz, owns con­tem­po­rary world cui­sine restau­rant On The Ta­ble, World Cui­sine at So­laris Du­ta­mas in KL.

Khairul said: “Their pres­ence will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the show. Fi­nal­ists will be able to take this op­por­tu­nity to gain as much culi­nary knowl­edge and learn new tech­niques to im­prove their cook­ing skills.”

MasterChef Malaysia hopes to in­spire and pro­vide train­ing to both ex­pe­ri­enced and new chefs alike. It also of­fers bud­ding chefs op­por­tu­ni­ties to step up their ca­reers and achieve new as­pi­ra­tions. The grand prize win­ner will walk away with RM100,000 and an op­por­tu­nity to pub­lish a recipe book.

There is no deny­ing that Chef Jo­hari and his team feel some pres­sure to live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of top-rated shows MasterChef US and MasterChef Aus­tralia. View­ers will surely com­pare them to re­spected Aus­tralian judges Gary Me­hi­gan and Ge­orge Calom­baris.

Be­sides hav­ing those big shoes to fill, Chef Jo­hari’s big­gest con­cern is how he will ap­pear on screen. “I am a chef by train­ing and not an ex­tro­vert. It can be a chal­lenge to host a show. It might take some time for me to warm up in front of the cam­era and in­ter­act with fi­nal­ists,” said the soft spo­ken Chef Jo­hari, who is more at home in front of a stove than on the set of a TV show.

Af­ter con­duct­ing a month-long na­tion­wide search in May, 40 par­tic­i­pants were se­lected based on their po­ten­tial and pas­sion in the kitchen.

The con­tes­tants come from a wide mix, in­clud­ing ac­tors, den­tists, fash­ion de­sign­ers, univer­sity stu­dents and a rub­ber tap­per!

They will be whit­tled down to the Top 24 and at the end of the sea­son, only one will be crowned MasterChef.

When asked about the fi­nal­ists, Chef Jo­hari said: “Our ex­pec­ta­tions are high but not too strin­gent be­cause these con­tes­tants are ama­teurs. There is also the re­spon­si­bil­ity of bring­ing these am­a­teur cooks to a higher level, of pol­ish­ing them into gems who can suc­ceed. As for the judg­ing, we are look­ing for can­di­dates who have a flair for cook­ing tech­niques and pre­sen­ta­tion plus the will­ing­ness to learn.” n Mas­terChef­Malaysia pre­mieres on Oct 22 at 9pm over Astro Ria (Ch 104). Mas­ter­class will be aired on Star World (Astro Ch 711) from Oct 27 (9pm) with a re­peat on Astro Ria be­gin­ning Nov 4 (9pm).

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