MasterChef Singapore winner Zander Ng cooks with love

Former IT manager Zander Ng says winning MasterChef Singapore is a "dream come true".
Former IT manager Zander Ng says winning MasterChef Singapore is a "dream come true".PHOTO: MASTERCHEF SINGAPORE

MasterChef Singapore winner Zander Ng says the biggest lesson he learnt from the show is that he should make food that he loves

Zander Ng may have just been crowned the winner of the inaugural edition of cooking reality TV show MasterChef Singapore, but he has had little time to celebrate.

After the 30-year-old won the title on Sunday night, he had one drink with friends - and then he had to run across town to go supermarket shopping.

"I had a cooking event to go to the next day, so I had to go to a couple of 24-hour supermarkets to pick up ingredients. The cooking never stops," he told The Straits Times yesterday morning.

The former IT manager, whose father is Singaporean and mother, Australian, gained a reputation for his ability to put out creative fusion dishes on the show.

In the final round, he beat fellow finalist Genevieve Lee after cooking a five-course fusion dinner spread.

His menu was made up of a flank steak with Asian chimichurri, pan-seared red snapper with beurre blanc, shaved fennel marinated with soy, honey and lime, fettuccine carbonara with Sichuan peppercorns as well as ondeh-ondeh panna cotta.

The panna cotta, which failed to set in time, was the dish that nearly cost him the title.

"It was definitely not up to scratch. I was so disappointed," recalled the bachelor. "But that is part of the whole MasterChef Singapore experience - sometimes things work out, and other times, it doesn't. But you learn as you go."

The biggest lesson he took away from his time on the show? Learning to cook from the heart.

"In the beginning, I was playing it safe and cooking dishes I thought I should do as a MasterChef contestant. They were slightly fancier.

"But halfway through the show, I realised that you succeed if you didn't care too much about that. I realised that I should just cook dishes I wanted to cook and make food I love and that I know other people will also love," he said.

Along with the title, Ng took home a $10,000 cash prize, $2,000 worth of shopping vouchers at Cold Storage supermarkets and a host of kitchen appliances.

He also secured a book publishing deal - for which he already has a number of recipes ready, he said - as well as internships at home-grown restaurants Folklore and Artichoke.

The two popular eateries are run by two of the three judges on the show - Folklore is by Damian D'Silva, while Artichoke is by Bjorn Shen.

The third judge was Audra Morrice, who was a MasterChef Australia finalist as well as a judge on MasterChef Asia.

"All the judges were just incredible. They took each contestant aside to really talk to us about cooking, checked on how we were doing and gave us the nudges we needed to move along. I look forward to working with them in a professional kitchen setting."

Ng, who already has a number of cooking collaborations set up, also plans to take some time off to travel the world and explore more cuisines.

The eldest of six children, who added that winning the show is a "dream come true", said that it is his parents, who work in real estate, who are elated with the results.

"They are just really proud of me. When I was announced the winner, my mum was just speechless - and it takes a lot to make my mum speechless," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Flavoured with love'. Print Edition | Subscribe