Monday, 2 November 2015

R.AGE Food Fight Finale : KISS AND TELL

I'm sure by now, dear readers you would have heard that I have lost again, that's three in a row.  For f**k sake I'm so good at losing I'll be joining THE BIGGEST LOSER ASIA. Anyways, I'm not happy at all as i was really looking forward to a new vacuum packer, but waking up instead with a sore an*s was quite the opposite.  The Chef Wan clone won, yawn yawn, now let's get down to the juicy bits. 

Behind the perfect make-up and the neat tartlets, I don't think many can imagine the terror we contestants have to brave ourselves through that day.  Kelly showed signs of cracking as we all start prepping around 0630 am.  She hasn't slept for days due to her singing and Halloween parties.  Worried that she did not bring a kitchen timer, she "accidentally borrowed" mine.  I'm not here to name and shame, but to show you how real the instinct to survive can be. 

A brief story when someone else's instinct to survive got them in hot water: during my Masterchef days, I got quite close to a character named Hafeez. When the time was up, his cupcakes were still raw, he plated 2 of the 5 he baked and left the rest in the oven. There was a break and upon returning for judging, the residual heat from the oven has cooked the cupcakes inside it. In a split second, he made the ill decision to swap his cupcakes. Word travelled to the production team and he was eliminated that very same day. I cried for the first time on TV that day because my cupcakes was the worst and I should have been the one to go. Still hate baking, i don't like measuring endless lists of stuff okay!

No one likes to be the first to go as it is a gamble, wading blind into uncharted territory. Nuril is a happy go lucky kind of dude and took it in his chin like a man. Afterwards I can see he is distressed, wondering if he could have done better if he had the feedback from other contestants. As he paced around the kitchen cursing at the lifeless ulam, I wondered if the stress has finally crept up on him. One thing we have in common is the neurotic need to be the best. As dorky (when you do meet him) as he may seem, I saw how fierce a competitor this chap is. However good a snake charmer he is, I'm not a cobra. I'm born in the year of the pig Oink Oink.

If there is anything certain in a cooking competition, it is that somebody always cracks. When things go south, under the heat and pressure, the kitchen can be an unforgiving place. 4 hours to make a tuna tartare...... even I didn't expect Ashley to be the chosen one. After our presentation, we were to take turns serving our food to the judges. Somehow Ashley misunderstood the instructions and started dishing up before her time. Her vinaigrette split so her tuna tartare started leaking, making it impossible to mould. She was shaking and couldn't even dot her balsamic. Tissues were everywhere as she desperately tries to stop the bleeding. I don't know when the crying started but 2 chefs began helping her to plate up. I have no idea how everyone felt but I was disgusted and sympathetic: rojak emotions la kan. Someone from the Le Corden Bleu Management had enough conscience to tell the chefs off but the deed was done. After her judging Ashley broke down and polished the cold stainless steel worktop with her tears.

Yes yes, I was once as innocent as Elmo. But I joined a cooking competition with more than 100 grand at stake. RM 100,000.00 ++ @.@ One day we were told to make a very famous french delicacy, complete with chef's instruction and guidance. One contestant was so good at it that he went against the recipe. Hell broke loose and almost everyone failed miserably except for this baking prodigy because he knew what he was doing. Technically he has won that match but nooooo, the organisers felt it was too shameful to show to the public. So the challenge was changed and an Australian delicacy was chosen, again with chef's recipe and guidance. Somehow just as Ashley's Tartare crumbled, the prodigy's Aussie delicacy fell flat. I cried again that day, because my Aussie delicacy was the best and my friend who technically won was discarded just like that. His mistake was not that he failed the second challenge, but to have kept quiet when they asked us all for our approval to change it. It is true what they say, the fear of speaking out is greater than the fear of death. Just look at the state of our politics!

Amongst all this Li-Anne I felt, was the coolest cat. She was still being awkwardly nice to me and that says a lot. Under pressure this gal still has time to smile, laugh and flirt. She even looks like she's having fun?!  Aussies....they do love to have a good time, must be all that sun, beaches, and coral. I too would like to have her swag, but it just hurts too much when people do stab me in the back, I prefer to look for friendship after the shit has hit the fan. Off the record, her video submission was screaming "I got this down bitch!" and I almost gave up after watching it, somehow the idea of writing something funny on a newspaper lured me in. If she gets picked up by TV, she will sell.  Muke boleh jual orang kata.

As for me, my heart sank when I didn't win. I wanted that column badly so I can give Malaysia a piece of my mind. The food was OK, but not as fresh as I wanted it to be, with all the waiting for divas and crying children. The judges sure did me good. They praised me to the skies until my lubang hidung kembang. So when Nuril was crowned, I haven't got the energy left to be paraded around as deputy prime minister. I stood there for the necessary pictures, shook hands, smiled and shot out the door. One brave soul from the camera crew asked me if I'd stay to record my "confessional". I said NO. I don't think you lot would want to learn new swearwords today dear boy. What can I say, sour grapes. I do need to buy that chap a drink.

I was commenting on why KYspeaks was on the judging panel and it struck me there and then that social media has now become so embedded with food celebritism that no aspiring celeb chef can escape the judgemental eyes of public. Everyone can criticise your food, your wardrobe, your sexuality, race, your personal life in general-lah.  Kevin, I do understand that the LGBT community has alot to say but honest to god, i didn't mean to put anything in your mouth with my sorrow. I wish I'm as graceful as Li-Anne but my parents taught me to be #1 all the time, in everything I do. My sincere apologies. I've gotten quite used to internet trolls. Here are some highlights for your entertainment.


Anyways, the big difference I noticed between R.AGE Food Fight and Masterchef Malaysia(MCM) is that R.AGE didn't capitalise on contestant drama, perhaps due to their journalistic background. Whereas MCM is a reality TV show, since they can't show all the swearing and violence the next best thing is people crying and the spicy remarks. The R.AGE team has done a darn good job overall.  Everything went smoothly and disasters averted efficiently.  Their budget is tight but the end product exceeded all my expectations. Until we meet again my gratitude for this opportunity.  I'm pretty sure R.AGE has the potential to grow into something big one day. 

My 2 cents is that, DJ Chef Liang should have directed the show rather than sitting his ass down and judging.  He is the bridge between us cooks and the showbiz machinery, as his title suggests DJ Chef.  Cooking competitions are complex and highly subjective, I was well impressed when he tried to hold up the cooking when he realized there was a delay, this man cared about the food that's going into the judges' mouth.  Alas one man cannot do everything.  Too many talents is a burden, sir.

Finally, I hope you don't think of this entry as a diss track.  I'm sure all the contestants and their fans hate my guts by now.  I wanted it that way because I feel it's too complicated to be friends and compete in this dog-eat-dog business.  Much like sibling rivalry, it's all jolly until you go to therapy. I wrote all these against all sound reasoning because I want to share our side of the story that the media always conveniently forgets to mention.  Life as a celeb-wannabe, hopeful that the grass might be greener on the other side.  Now then, take a look again at this picture, this time read between the lines.  This time try and guess what the chef is thinking.

" These clowns think they are chefs"

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