MasterChef Singapore: Finalist Jai Ganesh Says Being Called The One Who “Desecrated French Cuisine” Is His Lowest Point On The Show
The SAF officer-turned-chef is actually good at making French dishes.
We are just three weeks away from the MasterChef Singapore finale, with only five home cooks left to compete in the kitchen-arena
Last week, Jai Ganesh, the affable 31-year-old SAF officer-turned-chef, was sent home after he failed to dazzle resident judges Audra Morrice, Bjorn Shen and Damian D’Silva with his recreation of db Bistro & Bar’s executive pastry chef Mandy Pan’s renowned Black Forest dessert.
In hindsight, “I would definitely be more wary of the temperature of the chocolate before pouring it over my mousse,” Ganesh tells 8days. “I believe the temperature of my chocolate was a little lower than it should have been, causing it to be thicker than it should be.”
Laser focus: Ganesh trying to replicate Chef Mandy's Black Forest dessert, a challenge that would cost him a shot at the brass ring.
It was an unexpected turn of events for Ganesh who had previously earned praises for his blue cheese ice cream with poached pears (episode 4), and deep fried beef with sambal chilli, oven-baked eggplants with orange glaze and bone marrow sauce (episode 5).
But he also famously incurred the wrath of Chef Damian with his Lobster Beurre Blanc ( episode 6). “Looking at this, you’ve desecrated French cuisine,” said the owner of Restaurant Kin. “I’m not even trying it! Just looking at it, it looks inedible!” Yikes!
Knowing what he knows now, what advice would Ganesh give future MasterChef contestants? “Don’t ever, ever, ever let the competition get the better of you,” he says.
“Always remember that even though it is a competition, it’s also a learning journey and there are so many things to learn, from the judges and fellow contestants as well," he continues.
"That was my perspective going in to the competition every single day and I had so much of fun through this experience. Most important thing is to enjoy every single cook.”
Here, the co-founder of the online food delivery business The Biryani Brothers, reflects on his MasterChef experience and shares his plans for the future.
8 DAYS: What are the highlights of your MasterChef experience?
JAI GANESH: Every single day was a highlight for me because I learn something new every single time and it was extremely fun to cook in the MasterChef kitchen. However, if I had to choose, the three most memorable experiences are: my cook with Leon [Lim] and Mel [Lim] because that’s the most fun team challenge I had; the team challenge at Clifford Pier where the judges recognised my dish just by tasting it; and the blue cheese challenge where I did my Poached Pear with Marscapone Ice Cream.
How about the low points? Let me help you with that: Is it in Ep 6 where Chef Damian said you “desecrated French cuisine”?
(laughs) That definitely has to be the lowest point. I made some textbook errors and it was actually embarrassing for me to have to serve that dish to the judges because I hold a very high standard to what I serve. But mistakes do happen and I told myself I will pick myself up and carry on from there. For the record, I can do a really nice Buerre Blanc. (laughs)
Not pretty to look at: Ganesh's Lobster Beurre Blanc was panned by Chef Damian. "Looking at this, you've desecrated French cuisine," he said. At least, he liked the lobster.
Have you tried cooking French cuisine lately?
On a daily basis, actually. Haha. I currently work in a restaurant called Kinou, that serves French/Basque cuisine. My chef/owner and chef de cuisine have been extremely supportive of my career switch and it is only through their mentorship that I’m proud to be a chef here.
I was holding back my tears when you saluted the judges. Did you cry when you left the kitchen? When did the reality of your elimination sink in?
I am someone who wears my heart on my sleeves. But I’ve been through so much in my life and it is really going to take a lot to make me cry. I didn’t cry when I left the kitchen because it was my time to go. I knew I was going home when Chef Mandy couldn’t cut into my dessert. There is no chance for an error like that in the MasterChef kitchen.
Good job: Ganesh's blue cheese Ice cream with poached pears in Episode 4 was well-received by Chefs Audra and Bjorn.
Who would you love to compete against in the final?
Mel [who was eliminated in Ep 4]. She is super intelligent when it comes to cooking and is a technically gifted pastry cook so it would be a very interesting final to watch someone like her, who cooks with precision and accuracy, go up against me, who cooks by taste and gut feel.
Group effort: In ep 4, Ganesh teamed up with Leon Lim and Melissa Lim to make 'high-end' hawker food, which must include one savoury and one sweet dish.
How has being on MasterChef changed you?
Being on MasterChef has taught me the importance of presenting a nice plate. I used to be someone who always believed in flavour more than anything else but I pay a lot more attention to plating now because people always feast with their eyes first before digging into their meal! Good plating also displays discipline! Other than that, I’m the same old Ganesh. I do get recognised in public but it’s always whispers like, "Eh, that's Ganesh from MasterChef!, when they walk past me. Come on, guys! Feel free to say hi!”
Chef Bjorn said he would like to help you out and give you a good start in the industry. When do you plan to call him?
Chef Bjorn has been an excellent mentor we actually already have had a chat. He has given me a lot of advice since the show and I really had a great dinner when I went down to his restaurant and we spoke till closing. His knowledge and experience are something I can always rely on and he is the kind of person that you can just give a call and he will be ready to help.
Hot stuff: Ganesh's sambal deep-fried beef and eggplant with bone marrow in Episode 5.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently a chef at Kinou serving French/Basque cuisine. The knowledge and experience I’m gaining here are amazing and I encourage everyone to come down and enjoy the food we serve today. There are other plans in the works towards the end of the year/early next year but I’m going to leave that as a surprise!
MasterChef Singapore airs Sun, meWATCH and Channel 5, 9.30pm. The finale is on Apr 25.