Q & A with Chef Damian about MasterChef Singapore

Chef Damian D'Silva_2.jpg


A champion of heritage food , Folklore’s executive chef Damian D’Silva sits on the panel of judges  for the recently-aired inaugural MasterChef  Singapore to showcase  and determine the best interpretations of local cuisine by its contestants.

The MasterChef series was established in several countries such as the  USA, Australia and UK. Like these competitions, MasterChef Singapore also sees  18  homecooks dishing out their best through a series of challenges. There will be only one victor in this competition, decided by chef D’Silva and judge Audra Morrice and chef Bjorn Shen.

In the first episode of MasterChef Singapore, eight contestants have been eliminated so far after three challenges – making sambal, fried rice and a dish for a loved one. The cooking competition  was filmed over an intense period of two  weeks, and even the  seasoned chef had a few takeaways from the experience.

Chef D’Silva share his thoughts here, on the competition through the Singaporean lens, the judges and his reflections:

  1.  How do you find the quality of the inaugural  MasterChef Singapore contestants?


It’s the first competition, and hopefully not the last. But I would say that I was impressed by a few of the contestants,  considering that they are homecooks. We have  contestants  that would easily hold their place in MasterChef USA, UK and even Australia.


  1. As a unique  gastronomic  destination  with   one  of the  most  diverse  culinary heritage  and offerings,  how do you think MasterChef  Singapore can help to promote Singapore’s unique culinary identity?


What  better way  to showcase Singapore’s multi ethnic diversity then through a show that showcases  exactly  that? It’s  the best way  for Singaporeans  to watch  and understand  the changes  we  are  going through  within our own  food  culture.  It  also  encapsulates  the dilemma that we as Singaporeans struggle with – who we are. I know, in time there will be Singapore-inspired dishes that will  come  out of the MasterChef kitchen  that will  make Singapore proud, ethnic or otherwise.


  1. Why do you  think Singaporeans  should take  an interest  in (and  watch)  the MasterChef Singapore series?


If we  brag about how much  a foodie  nation  we  are,  then  we  should  be part of an international show that’s all about the progression of food. It’s about real people who cook. If we,  as  Singaporeans,  think we have  one of the best food in  the world,  then we should support what we believe.


  1. As one of the three judges for the MasterChef Singapore series, did you take on a different persona as compared to the Chef Damian we know?

I will  and always be Damian D’ Silva. Nothing can change that.


  1. In your role as MasterChef judge, what do you think is your key responsibility in this competition?


To be fair and consistent to my beliefs as a mentor.


  1. For a Singaporean contestant  as  well as  a judge,  what  do think was  the  most challenging  aspect of the competition?


Time constraint – An hour to execute a dish is a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the ingredients.


  1. Looking   back,   if   there  was   something   in  this   competition  you  would   do differently, what  would it be?


Smile more! Most of the comments that I get from friends and family is that I look too stern and smiling would probably show a different side of me.


  1. What  is your biggest takeaway from the MasterChef series?


The reality that Singaporeans really do not know much about their food culture. In the first episode,  where  they  had an elimination  challenge,  sambal  was  the  dish  they  had to execute. A few of them did not know how to cook it and some did not know what should go into it.


  1. For those  who  are  considering  to  come  onto a  competition  like  MasterChef Singapore,  what advice would you give an aspiring contestant?


Just because you think you can cook, it doesn’t mean you can last the competition. Cooking at home   is  imperfections  done  with  heart.  But  when  you  put  a  time  limit on  that, everything is changed  – there’s stress to do everything perfect within  the hour and for that you’ll also need to be organised.

  1. If you were to present a dish for the finals of MasterChef that best represents you, what would it be?

A Singaporean noodle dish with seafood, or what is available in the pantry.   There are so many  options  but  everything  would  have  to  depend on ingredients  that  would  be available to the contestants.


Catch MasterChef Singapore every Sunday on Channel 5 at 9:30pm, and Toggle’s Video On Demand.


Destination Singapore Beach Road

700 Beach Road, Level 2

Singapore 199598

T. +65 6679 2900 / +65 9021 9700


Email:               reserve@folklore.sg

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