BEING behind the kitchen and in front of a camera are two very different things, as the R.AGE Food Fight finalists found out on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, they were in their natural environment – the kitchen – to learn from French master chef Rodolphe Onno. Last weekend, they had to learn how to cook and entertain a television audience.
Performing artiste and chef Tan Chung Liang asked each finalist to give a mock five-minute cooking presentation in front of our cameras, an exercise to help them develop their on-screen personality.
“If you’re a good chef but have a personality that can’t attract flies, no one is going to watch your show,” he said. “I want to be charmed; I want to be enchanted.”
As anyone who has done any work in front of the camera will tell you, it’s actually much harder than it looks – and it’s even harder when you have to do it while cooking.
“I was so nervous I couldn’t put my words together and get my message across,” said Food Fight finalist Ashley Pan, who flew in from Kuching for the workshop.
“But Liang told me if I don’t believe in myself then the audience won’t either, which is really good advice, so I’ll work on that.”
Fellow finalist Kelly Siew, 31, also had some initial trouble communicating with the camera.
“I was told my first try was too formal,” said the food blogger and singer. “I think it’s because I’m more used to hosting events on stage, so I need to take it down a notch.”
Ahong Yeang, 32, who has competed twice in Masterchef Malaysia, was understandably more used to the cameras, and he delivered his trademark dry humour to perfection.
His mock presentation was all about the different types of durians, and he said: “The musang king is like that nasty ex. You know she’s bad, you know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help yourself.”
The finalists also had to present their ideas for what kind of food show would best suit their individual talents and personalities to R.AGE senior producer Elroi Yee, who will be producing the winner’s video series for R.AGE (warning: spoilers ahead).
Nuril Razha, 26, who co-owns a peranakan restaurant in Penang, wants to bring more education on our local food history.
On the other hand, Siew pitched an idea to host a cooking show where she and two other friends travelled across Malaysia, putting a health-conscious spin to classic recipes.
With such good ideas, it’s hard to know which finalist has the upper hand. Guess we’ll just have to find out at the R.AGE Food Fight finale this Saturday.