Zander Ng Wins MasterChef Singapore
Singapore is definitely the food capital of Asia.
So it’s no surprise that we were glued to our screens watching the MasterChef Singapore finale on Sunday (21 Oct).
To recap, Zander Ng became the talk of the town after his 5-course banquet wowed judges.
Drama isn’t anything new in reality TV competitions and there was quite a bit in the finals. Netizens complained that European cuisine occupied a central position during the whole season. And while Zander’s dish had Asian elements, they were reduced to an “aromatic footnote”.
Whatever the case, Zander Ng is already Singapore’s first official MasterChef.
You’ll be hearing his name a lot pretty soon, so here’s everything we’ve learned about him over the season:
1. He’s half-Singaporean and half-Australian
Zander hails from a multicultural household.
His father is Singaporean and his mother is Australian. And yes, he’s finished his National Service, just in case anyone was wondering.
According to his father, the officer’s love for food runs in the family.
I’m actually pleasantly surprised that Zander was like me when I was a child. Following my late father in the pursuit of exploring local fare, interest in food and always curious. I think it runs in the blood.
2. Got into cooking early in his university days
The adulting struggle isn’t anything new, but it can lead to interesting self-discoveries.
Zander discovered his interest in cooking while in university. As a cash-strapped college student, he had to come up with delicious budget meals all by himself. He loved the challenge so much that he hosted weekly dinner parties and offered cooking lessons for his pals.
3. Italian is his specialty
Zander’s love for all-things Italian is definitely obvious.
He even got the nickname Risotto Boy, for his inclination towards Italian dishes with an Asian twist.
His love for Italian cuisine stems from his “nonna” or grandma in Italy who taught him how to make risotto.
4. He is obsessed with “fusion” dishes
Zander is a master of fusing diverse cuisines.
In episode 7, he came up with coriander marinated lamb and glutinous rice with coconut. The dish is a foodie’s dream come true. The beloved pairing of lush lamb combined with soft and sticky rice resulted in an epic burst of flavor.
After eating, Damian joked, “Any woman would want to marry you.”
At the finals, he even wowed judges with his skills in Italian and French cuisines, and knowledge of Asian ingredients. Just take a look at the tender and juicy combination of flank steak with Asian chimchurri.
5. Great with young kids and teens
Zander is the oldest of 6 siblings.
His family includes four younger half-siblings and two foster girls, so he’s got crazy older brother skills.
His experience with young kids and teens came in handy on MasterChef’s third episode. He made sure that the Korean-style fried chicken wings were extra crispy for the horde of young sports students that they were feeding.
6. Shifu of sweets
Zander is undoubtedly a shifu of desserts.
In episode 4, he impressed everyone with his flourless chocolate cake infused with bourbon chantilly cream and raspberry and goji berry compote. The presentation definitely left audiences salivating at their screens.
Bjorn proclaimed that it was one of the best flourless chocolate cakes he’s ever had.
7. He’s bros with Aaron
Zander’s bromance with fellow contestant Aaron Wong is alive both on-screen and off-screen.
Throughout the team challenges, the two were together.
They even dodged the elimination challenge through their mussel tagliatelle infused with chilli crab sauce, and Chinese five-spice crème brûlé, proving the awesome-ness of their friendship.
Zander admitted that he would’ve loved to face the finals alongside Aaron in an interview with 8days:
Of course, it’d have been fun to face off Aaron. Because we were bros throughout the whole season and we were always working together, and we did well. We catch up all the time. It would have been fun to face him.
8. Works well under pressure
The MasterChef kitchen isn’t for the faint of heart.
If you want to last eight episodes, you’ve got to work well under a ton of pressure. After all, everything you do is broadcast on national TV.
But Zander was able to conquer his challenges head-on.
In episode 6, he almost ran out of time and forgot to top his lamb kibbeh with mint leaves. Fortunately, the dish was saved by his delicious charred yogurt.
In episode 7, he made a mistake with his pies and attempted to ‘weld’ it, because it might leak. Despite the mistake, the judges praised the pie and said that the custard was smooth and light.
We’re not a fine dining expert, but we surely want a bite of this delicious concoction.
9. Next celeb chef?
You can think whatever you want about Zander’s dishes, but you can’t deny his eloquence and charisma. He’s got the potential to be the next celebrity chef on TV.
Now that he’s officially won MasterChef, this prediction is undoubtedly closer to reality.
Thanks to the competition, he got a book publishing deal and internships with Folklore and Artichoke, run by the judges in the show. Folklore is the latest venture of chef Damian D’Silva, while Bjorn Shen is the chef-owner of Artichoke.
10. Big plans
What’s next for our new MasterChef?
Zander plans to take a short break, travel the world and explore cuisines. We don’t think he’s opening his own Michelin star restaurant yet, but his dream is to start an underground dining scene and pop-up dinners in Singapore.
If you’re a big fan, then don’t worry. He’s got cooking collaborations planned, so we’ll be seeing more of him pretty soon.
Keep rising Zander!
Zander definitely has big plans and big dreams.
Singapore’s first MasterChef will surely continue to hone his craft and attract the public’s attention, thanks to his upcoming cookbook, collaborations and internships with Michelin star chefs.
We only have one thing left to say – when can we taste his delicious concoctions?
Featured image from Facebook