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MasterChef Singapore Season 3: Top 12 Revealed!

Who will be crowned the next MasterChef Singapore? Place your bets!

MasterChef Singapore Season 3: Top 12 Revealed!

Gardens by the Bay is usually a tranquil place to hang out, a paradise on Earth. But if you’re the 18 home cooks battling tooth and nail for a spot in the coveted Top 12 in Season 3 of MasterChef Singapore, it’s Hell on Earth. Last night, the season premiere saw 18 contestants showing off their culinary chops to the judges Audra Morrice, Damian D’Silva and Bjorn Shen — some dazzled their tastebuds, others missed the mark and ended up on the chopping block instead. For the latter group, it’s sad to see their F&B dreams dashed on TV, but it’s also perversely enjoyable to see a few of them — mainly the boastful ones… you know who they are (hello, ‘Flipping Crypto Fish’?) — sent home packing. At the end of the day, there’s only enough room for 12 contenders, with four of them — dental student Johnathan Chew, singer Eka Mairina, food delivery rider Ilya Nur Fadhly and housewife Shamin — singled out as early frontrunners. (Or in reality TV show-speak, they now have target boards on their back.) Do they have the stamina to see through them the weekly challenges? Or will they buckle under the pressure (don’t look at the clock!)? Let’s meet the aspiring chefs.

Alfa Bt Matnoor, 48, corporate services manager

Nickname: The Comeback Queen

What is your signature dish?

It has to be tagliatelle in Squid Ink Sauce with Pan seared Shrimps.

How did you prepare for the show?

I started off with buying loads of food ingredients and kitchen and baking tools to experiment with. I had my family become my food testers and critics too. I prepared the same dish over and over again to improve on it and my poor family just have to eat them repeatedly too. (laughs)

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The pantry, of course! For the love of food, it has so many ingredients that I can experiment and explore with. The colours in the pantry excite me!

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Damien, because I, too, want to keep our local food dishes rooted to our origins!

The toughest judge is… Chef Audra. She has such great expectations for pies and pastries. So it is nail biting to wait on her feedback to anybody’s bake!

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

A lot actually, I have learnt to be a better cook and baker. I have learnt to be resilient despite the situations, to be able to take on new challenges, collaborate and work as a team, explore different boundaries, experiment with new ingredients and foster great friendships along the way. It has definitely made me a better person.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I’ll make use of it to pursue an education to further my culinary skills.

What else to know?

Apart from cooking and baking, I am an avid face yogee, and also a pound fitness enthusiast. I want to look good and stay healthy always

Azwandi ‘Andi’ Robani, 41, visual arts instructor

Nickname: The Fxxxing Artist.... Fishing. What were you thinking?

What is your signature dish?

Mandi Rice with Beef Kofta. I call it ‘Nasi mANDI  by Andi’.

How did you prepare for the show?

No prep, really. If anything, I was preparing myself mentally to be away from the family for three weeks.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

Oh, definitely the pantry. It’s like going shopping but for freeeeeeeeeeeee....

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is…Shucks, this is a difficult one. It’s like asking which of my three children is my favourite. I would say... Damian... wait... Bjorn... Eh no, Audra...

The toughest judge is… I would have to say Damian. Okay on the surface, I mean look at him. He’s got this fierce poker face. And he is very forward with his comments. No sugar coating. But once you get past all that, he's very alright. Damian, you owe me a fishing trip!

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

You’ve got to get your head in whatever you do. See a problem, keep calm, believe in yourself, and solve it. But you’ve got to hustle, or the clock’s going to get ya.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I’ve always believed and held on to this principle, "Whatever that is yours, is not totally yours". You have been blessed with wealth for a reason. And that is to share with others who might need it more than you. So yeah. Part of it is going back to society. Of course, the wife and family. And the remainder, something to fund my quest to be a content creator chef, celebrity chef, whatever you want to call it.

What else to know?

Hmm, I don’t know. If you see me around, stop me and ask lah.

Eka Mairina, 43, singer and actress

Nickname: The Singer and Actress

What is your signature dish?

Indonesian food, especially Nasi Liwet.

How did you prepare for the show?

I hired a pro chef to teach me from home.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

Simple. The pantry.  

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Damian, because he loves traditional foods like I do. There are so many things that I want to learn from and share with him.

The toughest judge is… Audra. She is a nice lady, but I’m always nervous to see her. I feel it’s too difficult to please her?   

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

It’s a far tougher competition than you think. Cooking under pressure just takes it to another level.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

Open my own resto.

What else to know?

I am a mother of three, and I am fun, fearless, multi-talented yet soft-hearted.

Fiona Celeste Seow, 38, stay-home mom and GroupBuy host

Nickname: The Queen of Healthy Home Food? Foodie Mama?

What is your signature dish?

Wagyu Buah Keluak.

How did you prepare for the show? 

In the night, when kids have fallen asleep, I try out new recipes and methods of cooking. I also watched cooking videos for ideas I had the free time.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The cooking station!

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Damian.

The toughest judge is…Damian, again.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

Cooking and coming up with ideas under pressure is seriously not an easy task. I have gained culinary experience, knowledge, and ideas from the various sharing sessions with my fellow contestants and guest judges. Above all else, I have gained a deeper appreciation of the issues surrounding food waste and food sustainability.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

If I win, I hope to be able to use the prize money to further educate myself and pursue my craft in the culinary world. Or I would use it for my daughter’s school semester fees in Australia.

What else to know?

People who know me will probably say that I am a very down to earth, approachable, inspirational and hardworking mother of four. I’m someone who takes great care of my family but at the same time, there’s still a fire burning in me. There is a lot of hidden effort, commitment and responsibility in what I do which I take pride in. This passion I have for cooking also pushes me to want to contribute more to my community.

Ilya Nur Fadhly, 36, food delivery rider

Nickname:  The Food Courier

What is your signature dish?

Guess it must be Asam Pedas, since I’ve made multiple variations of it on the show.

How did you prepare for the show?

By keeping my stations clear and organised, because my wife says I put stuff everywhere. A clear station produces a clear mind.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

I love the benches and the pantry! Everyone is complaining, but I feel at ease and the pantry items are free!

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Audra. I see a bit of my mum in her.

The toughest judge is… Damian! He has a serious face and is gentle underneath, but still. His serious face is intimidating.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

To run! Do things quickly and run!

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I’d love to open my own spot that serves Modern Malay food. I want to showcase the possibilities of Malay flavours to the world. And bring my wife on a trip, because I missed our anniversary to be on the show, yikes!

What else to know?

This delivery rider has got a Diploma in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Technology. I like to take things apart and put them back together, sometimes differently. Not all delivery riders are uneducated.

Gooi Jia Yi, 23, university student and wakeboarder

Nickname: The Wakeboarder Meimei 

What is your signature dish?

Wah, I don’t really have a signature dish. I like cooking a variety of foods, and I don’t really like repeating my recipes because there are so many out there to try! But I guess Kueh Salat or Kueh Ko Swee might work because my friends text me up whenever they are craving for some of mine.

How did you prepare for the show?

Panic, haha. I watched a lot of videos, read a lot of recipes and prepared potential dishes that were doable in a short amount of time.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

Does the knife count? It is really sharp, so sharp that I cut myself about five minutes into the first cooking challenge — but that means you are provided with the best.

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Damian! I guess it’s because of the cuisine he specialises in.

The toughest judge is… also Chef Damian.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

Always taste as you go, and that cooking for others is very different from cooking for your family, especially in terms of seasoning!

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

Hmm, start a food documentary or food show series exploring different cuisines and a variety of food-related topics, like eating sustainability, combining nature and food.

What else to know?

I love trying new and exotic food when I go overseas. Once, I specifically asked my local friend to bring me to try Balut when I was in the Philippines — and it was so yummy. So, throw me some suggestions!

Johnathan Chew, 23, dental student

Nickname: Mr Sweet Tooth

What is your signature dish?

I make amazing pound cakes. I am currently working on a cardamon and orange loaf.

How did you prepare for the show?

Watching a lot of MasterChef episodes. Also familiarising myself with techniques and flavours of cuisines I am unfamiliar with. You never know what the MasterChef kitchen will throw at you, and I plan to dodge every curveball that comes my way. Beyond that, I also memorised ratios for all the dessert recipes in my arsenal.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

Easy, the pantry. It’s not every day that I get to pick whatever I like to experiment with, without thinking if I would be wasting my money or doing dishonour to the ingredient.

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Damian. My initial thought was that he appears very intimidating, but he has been incredibly endearing on the MasterChef set, even off camera. He gives me very approachable “grandfather” vibes, and he will give you the right advice when you need it most. I also like how his cooking style involves the elevation of local flavours, which is something I enjoy doing.

The toughest judge is… Chef Audra. Being the baker amongst the three judges, I feel like she would have higher expectations if we were to venture into dessert making in a challenge. The stress is there, but this man’s not about to be taken down.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

Anything is possible if you put your mind and soul into it. I am someone who seeks new challenges every day and boy, this is one big challenge.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I intend to work on my own cookbook, which would possibly be dessert-themed. I would also look into expanding my home-based baking business, which is something I hope to do with my mum.

What else to know?

When I am out for a jog, I will occasionally touch lamp posts because I have an irrational fear that I have died and can pass through objects like a ghost… All jokes aside — they’re mostly true — I am an avid fan of water sports, having been a competitive swimmer previously, and I enjoy canoeing. I am looking forward to future wakeboarding sessions after looking at all the insane tricks my fellow contestant and friend, Jia Yi, can do.

S ‘Nares’ Nareskanna, 32, car sales advisor

Nickname: The Underdog

What is your signature dish?

Barramundi with cashew coconut sauce.

How did you prepare for the show?

I read up on recipes to expand my knowledge on food and techniques.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The ambience and the crew. It’s enriching, and I loved the hospitality of the crew members.

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Audra! Personally, I feel she gives really good advice and she is also a good motivator.

The toughest judge is… Chef Damian. He knows his Peranakan and Asian cuisine really well, so you really can’t afford to slip up.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

To always trust myself, my gut and never doubt my capabilities.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I have established a private home dining business, and am hoping to channel some of the wins towards growing the business.

What else should people know about you?

I love to travel overseas for food.

Raj Shagaran Mahalingam, 58, creative events producer

Nickname: LaCucaRaj, the wannabe chef who never dies even when trodden on. ‘La Cucaracha’ is a popular Mexican folk song about a cockroach who cannot walk.

What is your signature dish?

Black Pepper Crab, Chilli Crab and anything crabalicious.

How did you prepare for the show?

Mentally, by preparing my winning speech, and physically, by ‘dancing’ with crabs in my promo shoot.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The part where I get to cook again and again and again…(laughs)!

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… Chef Bjorn, the funky, groovy and steady chef.

The toughest judge is…Chef Audra, who probably loathes my guts in the kitchen because of my ego and my good looks...(laughs)!

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

Just don’t overthink and cook it your way… or should I say My Way! Now I sound like Frank Sinatra.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

Invest and become the next big food porn star of Singapore…(laughs)!

What else to know?

I’m a genuine, friendly, kind loving person who believes that the nicest person wins the race.

Shamin D’Souza, 46, former Singapore Airlines flight attendant and beauty queen

Nickname: The Kitchen Diva

What is your signature dish?

My signature dishes are a unique East Indian specialty, Pork Indyal, also known as Vindyal or Vindaloo. It is different from Eurasian Vindaloo, and you won’t find it in restaurants. I usually prepare it for special occasions, and it has its own fan base.  Chicken Dum Biryani is another specialty of mine. I would like to think that I have perfected the art of transforming simple ingredients into a royal pot of soul-satisfying deliciousness.

How did you prepare for the show?

I am an absolute foodie and have been passionate about cooking since an early age. As a cabin crew, I was exposed to various cultures, cuisines and culinary styles. Incorporating these techniques and experiences into my daily cooking alongside self-learning has helped me prepare for Masterchef.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The Masterchef set is absolutely magnificent and magical. The best part was all the wonderful friendships that I have made with the contestants, and the production team who worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the show despite COVID-19 restrictions.

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… I’d love to have all the MasterChef judges as mentors. But if I had to choose just one, then it would be Chef Damian.

The toughest judge is… The three judges have very high expectations from all the contestants. They are unique in their own culinary styles. I have always been inspired by Chef Damian and in my view, it is most difficult to please him given his vast experience.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

I have learnt to be innovative, to take risks and to modify my cooking techniques on the spot without hesitation.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

A part of my winning would go towards upgrading my culinary skills, before I venture into the F&B business with the rest.

What else to know?

I was a cabin crew with Singapore Airlines for 11 years. Prior to that, I was a fashion model and Miss India finalist. Besides cooking, I am also passionate about gardening. I am an active volunteer with the National Parks Board at The Istana. I also love incorporating natural ingredients from the kitchen into my beauty regime, which is something I learnt from my mum at an early age. I am the youngest of six siblings.

Sharlene Tan, 39, schoolteacher

Nickname: Queen of the Underdogs. Watch the show to find out why...

What is your signature dish?

I don’t really have a signature dish as I love a variety of food and am always trying to perfect various things. But if I had to name things that I cook very well, I suppose it would be oxtail stew, prawn noodles, laksa and sourdough bread.

How did you prepare for the show?

I didn’t really have time to prepare as I only submitted my entry on the last day of registration! However, I did try to think of possible ways to elevate some basic dishes, and looked at pictures of nicely plated food for inspiration as plating is one of my weaknesses.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The pantry! Supermarkets are one of my favourite places on Earth, so having access to a pantry filled with exotic ingredients is like being in heaven.

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is…Chef Damian. He is really good with local heritage food, which I would love to learn more about.

The toughest judge is… Also Chef Damian. He is the scariest and seems the most difficult to please.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

Be flexible, go with the flow and never be afraid to just try.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

I would use it to fund my future food venture, whatever that may be.

What else to know?

I look fierce and scary when I don’t smile, and can be quite direct and sarcastic, but I’m really quite nice if you get to know me.  

Thomas Chong, 24, university student

Nickname: Mr Make-Food-Look-Fancy

What is your signature dish?

My signature dish is the Lobster Bisque Somen.

How did you prepare for the show?

I spent most of my days finding food-spiration by reading cookbooks, food magazines and researching recipes online. The remaining days prior to the start of the show were when I put everything into practice: cooking meals for the family and girlfriend [MasterChef Singapore Season 1 runner-up Genevieve Lee] and getting their feedback.

What is your favourite part of the MasterChef set?

The most eye-catching part about the set is watching the way the film crew operates. Looking at them work their magic with those big “guns" inspired me to whip up good dishes so that they would look nice on camera!

The MasterChef judge you’d love to have as a mentor is… All three judges have their strengths. However, the one that I most respect and would love to have as my mentor is Chef Bjorn, as his drive to innovate and experiment makes him stand out from the other two judges.

The toughest judge is…Chef Bjorn. He might seem like the bubbly and funny guy, but I know that he keeps an eagle eye on every move we make in the MasterChef kitchen.

What have you learned from MasterChef so far?

The biggest competitor is yourself. Never belittle what you are capable of and never overestimate your strengths, either.

If you win, how do you plan to use your MasterChef prize?

If I win, I would use the prize money to fund my dream brewery.

What else to know?

I always let the camera feast first when food is served. #nohate

 

Watch the Season 3 premiere and see how the home cooks made it to the Top 12:

MasterChef Singapore Season 3 airs meWATCH and Channel 5, Sun, 9.30pm.

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