He may not have won the seventh season of reality cooking competition MasterChef Australia, but contestant Reynold Poernomo has certainly carved out a niche for himself in the sweets department.
The 22-year-old pastry chef made his mark on MasterChef by whipping up stunning desserts and he now runs the 11-month-old Koi restaurant in Kensington Street, in Sydney's trendy Chippendale area.
Diners here can get a taste of his dishes as he will be in town for the debut of MasterChef Dining & Bar at InterContinental Singapore's Ash & Elm restaurant.
The pop-up dining series has been successful in Australia and London and Singapore is its first stop in Asia.
Poernomo will cook from Dec 4 to 9, while British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White - who is no stranger to being a guest judge and mentor on MasterChef Australia - will be here from Nov 25 to Dec 9.
Other MasterChef contestants, from the Asian and American editions of the show, will also cook at the event. Their names will be announced later.
BOOK IT /MASTERCHEF DINING & BAR SINGAPORE
WHERE: Ash& Elm, Level 1 Inter Continental Singapore, 80 Middle Road
WHEN: Nov 25 to Dec 9, noon to 2.30pm, 7 to 10pm
ADMISSION: Early-bird promotion from today to Oct 27: $138+ (lunch), $248 + (dinner); from Oct 28: $168+ (lunch), $288 + (dinner)
Tickets go on sale at Sistic today.
The four-course lunch is priced at $168+ (early bird price: $138+) and six-course dinner at $288+ (early bird price: $248+).
The early bird promotion runs from today to Oct 27.
It is organised by Endemol Shine Group, the creator of the MasterChef brand.
Speaking to The Straits Times on the telephone from Sydney, Poernomo says that he has submitted six ideas - savoury and sweet - for the menu, which will be curated by White.
One idea is his take on the peanut butter and jam sandwich, inspired by a dessert by chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club in Tanjong Pagar Road. Poernomo's version features caramelised housemade brioche, peanut butter cream, cassis pastille, macerated strawberry and roasted almond gelato.
The Indonesia-born Poernomo says: "I like to make things unique, so I've put my own spin on chef Ryan's dessert with the gelato and other garnishes. I don't mind doing something with more Asian flavours as well and to work with the local produce in Singapore."
His family may be in the food and beverage business, but he is very much a self-taught chef.
His mother runs Art Plate, a patisserie in Sydney, while his father cooks traditional Indonesian and Malaysian food in a restaurant. His second brother Arnold, 28, is a judge on MasterChef Indonesia, and his other brother Ronald, 29, works with him in Koi.
He says: "In high school, I didn't really click with studying. The only things I was engaged in were cookbooks and chef biographies.
"People think that I trained with my mother, but no, that didn't happen. Cooking was already a hobby back then and I've made it my career now."
He gave up studying nutrition at Western Sydney University in his second year, when his friend encouraged him to join MasterChef Australia. "Do I finish my studies or take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?"
He chose MasterChef and came in fourth in last year's competition.
At Koi, popular desserts include his signature Moss dessert, with pistachio mousse, caramel gel, white chocolate matcha dulce cremeux, pistachio sponge, matcha moss, apple blossom jelly, nitro lime and yogurt and green apple. This dessert was also the pressure test for the contestants of this year's MasterChef Australia, in its eighth season, when Poernomo returned as a guest chef.
The young chef still has a long way to go, and has his sights set on becoming one of the best pastry chefs in the world.
"I've been very, very busy at Koi, it's a lot harder than MasterChef," he says, chuckling. "I'll take it slow and, hopefully, retire young."