I love watching cooking competitions, but of all the shows out there, my favourite has got to be MasterChef Australia. The first thing I like about the show, are the judges - Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston. I mean let's face it, if viewers can't stand the hosts, then a show's doomed.
I'm not sure what it is, but these three have got a special chemistry. Plus, they simply light up the screen each time they're on. In short, the judges are super likeable, even when they're giving the contestants a telling off for cooking something awful (in which case they deserve it)!
The contestants are pretty awesome too, of course. As the season progresses, you get to know each one a bit better. Some of them will make you roll your eyes, and others will even make you shed a tear. I don't actually have a favourite contestant yet this season, but maybe one of them will steal my heart later on. For the time being, I'm just rooting for the women :)
What's different about Season 5, is that they go straight into the Top 22 stage, and they kick things off right away with a girls vs boys challenge. The men really were sort of exercising their male bravado quite a bit at the start, but the women soon showed them who's boss by winning two challenges. I've got to say that was fun to watch!
Then there was the Barossa Valley bootcamp, which really tested the contestants. As the girls finally lost a challenge, they had to cook different parts of lamb the best way they could - not easy! Some of the ladies redeemed themselves in the eyes of the judges, while others failed to impress. At the end of it, those who felt they did the worst that day had to step forward and nominate themselves for elimination!
One contestant had her mind set on cooking Thai curry or something, but there wasn't any lemongrass or shrimp paste. Instead of cooking something else, she tried to make it work, and it didn't turn out well. I'm a firm believer in cooking with what you've got, so whenever possible, I try to make my groceries last longer. For example, I like to freeze my ginger, turmeric, onion, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves, so I always have them on hand.
Also, since I'm a petai (stinky bean) lover, I always try to make sure that I have some around. I buy some whenever I came across them in the supermarket, then I boil them and pickle them in brine. This way, I can make my family's favourite sambal petai anytime!
Check out my pickled petai on the left! You can learn how to make it at home here. By the way, on the right is my pickled ginger or gari :)
If you have a cool cooking tip, do join on the Cooking Tip-Off challenge, over at the Lifetime Malaysia Facebook page. The challenge is open to every Malaysian who is a fan of MasterChef Australia, and here's a note, each tip shared on the Lifetime Malaysia Facebook will have to be tagged #MCATipOff.
If you're a food lover, don't forget to tune in to the fifth season of MasterChef Australia, showing on Lifetime, Astro Channel 709, weekdays at 7pm and 11pm!