MasterChef Singapore Contestant — Who Nearly Lost Two Fingers In Competition — On How Chef Damian’s “Roadkill” Comments Killed Her “Fighting Spirit”
Stay-at-home mum Fiona Celeste Seow says the judge’s harsh feedback on her dish really did a number on her morale.
It was a double-elimination last week on MasterChef Singapore that saw the exit of stay-home mum Fiona Celeste Seow and corporate service manager Alfa Bt Matnoor.
Between the two, however, Fiona, 38, probably had it worse — when resident judge Chef Damian D’Silva said her Apple Glazed Quail with Pink Sauce Pasta “looks like roadkill with its guts spilling out.” Ouch. Not exactly words she wanted to hear from her dream mentor.
Then again, she had it coming. “I was stunned, and I cursed myself,” the bubbly mother of four tells 8days.sg via e-mail. “I should have prepped my plate earlier.”
She added that Chef Damian’s feedback was the harshest thing anyone has ever said about her cooking. “But at least Chef Audra [Morrice] commented that the pasta was great.”
How did Fiona's family react to the criticism?
“They were angry with Chef Damian’s comments,” she says. “They were sad that I was eliminated, but still comforted me and knew I did my best with two injured fingers.”
Oh, yes. Her two injured fingers — the digits that she nearly sliced off while using a grater in Episode 5’s ‘Keeping Up With The Chef’ challenge.
The incident was actually way gorier than what viewers saw on TV, says Fiona. “I have never bled so much before, other than during childbirth.”
Here, Fiona lets us in on more of that bloody incident and how Chef Damian’s damning words affected her morale and sucked her will to compete.
8 DAYS: You put in a valiant effort in Episode 6. How far did you think you could have gone in the competition?
FIONA CELESTE SEOW: I didn’t expect myself to reach this far [the Top 8]. I just tried to do my best in every challenge that came along.
How devastating was it to have Chef Damian describe your Apple Glazed Quail with Pink Sauce Pasta as “roadkill”?
Of course, Chef Damian’s comments were very disappointing. But I don't deny the fact that it does look like “roadkill”. I accept the feedback wholeheartedly, although I was shocked, haha. You know, this is actually also a good chance to teach children about roadkill, as I have many friends and their kids watching the show, too. I guess they might ask their mummies for the meaning of “roadkill”. So peeps, drive safely and be responsible on the roads. Don’t be the cause of roadkill!
Looking back at your time on MasterChef Singapore, what were your favourite moments that didn’t make it to TV?
During the One Pan challenge in episode four, when Chef Bjorn said that my dish actually tasted better than Chef Damian’s.
In the ‘Chocolate Tower’ team challenge, Chef Damian said your and Alfa’s dish was too salty. He said, “It’s really salty. You don’t believe me, right? You think it’s okay. Seriously?” He also asked you to taste it but you chose not to. Here’s the million-dollar question: Why didn’t you dispute it, especially when you guys maintained that you didn’t put that much salt?
That is also the million-dollar question mark for me. Was it really that salty? Chef Damian’s comment was the last one, and none of the other judges mentioned that it was salty until then. So I also pondered. There were two reasons why we chose not to taste it. First, both Alfa and I tasted all our components that were left on the bench, after we had submitted our chocolate “landed house” instead of a “tower”. Don’t waste the food, right? So we ate it all up — it was delicious! And we did not taste any components that were especially salty. Or maybe Chef Damian was so lucky that he received a chunk of salt…keke…
And secondly, I was exhausted. I missed my family very much, especially my two-year-old baby. My milk supply had dropped drastically as well; it was an emotional roller coaster. The “roadkill’ comment was honestly very traumatic for me. Probably that was why my fighting spirit died in me. But Alfa and I fought till the end and stayed strong together.
By the way, how are your fingers? You almost sliced off two fingers from using a grater. Are you still traumatised from the incident? Was there more blood that we didn’t see on TV?
I actually enjoyed that challenge very, very much. And Chef Petrina was so bubbly and nice! But, oh yeah! The blood was filling up my glove. Halfway through the challenge, I could feel the glove getting heavy and when I opened it up, OMG! It was full of blood. I have never bled so much before, other than during childbirth. I thought I would faint. But I’m glad that my story producer Joy gave me that look in her eyes — telling me to hold on, brace up. Once I overcame that and continued the mad rush to catch up, I totally forgot about the pain. Sadly, I was not able to serve the white asparagus, or else my blood would have ‘blessed’ the bowl of water with the asparagus in it.
In that same episode you cut yourself, Raj claimed he dislocated his shoulder but didn’t tell the judges for fear of being told to quit the show. Were you aware of his injury?
Yes, I am aware of that. He had a very, very bad fall on set while running to the pantry. He slid and slammed right into the pantry door. His bench was just behind me during that cookout. I could hear him calling out for someone to help him to hold up his arm as it was ‘loose’. Glad that he managed to pop it back in while standing there waiting for the judges’ verdict. I was pretty worried for him, as we didn’t know if he would be able to continue in the next round. To you guys watching, it may seem like weekly cooking. But for us, it was a back-to-back daily cooking challenges.
Raj claimed he got along well with everyone. Do you know there’s a friendly online feud between him and Ilya who made fun of his dish on TikTok? Seriously, did Raj get on your nerves sometimes as he did with some of the other contestants?
Was there an online feud? Not that I know of. Yes, Uncle Raj did get on my nerves sometimes, with his loud and vocal “second personality” on set. Especially during the ‘Keeping Up With The Chef’ challenge, when I was beside him. I was trying hard to listen and concentrate while answering his questions at the same time.
What’s next for you?
Continuing what I love and have been doing and, at the same time, exploring more options in the culinary world. Home private dining is definitely out for me…Unless you want to dine at my house with my four rascals running around! My hubby encouraged me to venture into opening a little shop or sell to my GroupBuy community, but I guess have to wait a bit while more until my youngest grows up first. Or rather, I don’t feel this is my calling. But I have recently set up a mobile cooking school with two like-minded people. We’ve named it Cooking Reinvented. We tie up with local farms, institutions and schools and advocate a yard/corridor to table cooking concept. We teach and share our knowledge with others. Currently, we are still looking for an outdoor farming space, and we hope to work with more local produce to champion food sustainability through the art of innovative cooking.
Watch Episode 6 of MasterChef Singapore Season 3 here: