The season 2 of culinary reality show MasterChef Singapore just concluded, where 12 top cooks out of 24 home cooks were chosen to fight it out in an intense cook-off on screen. 24-year-old engineering student Derek Cheong and private tutor Leon Lim both made it to the finale to duke it out in a battle to serve up the best three-course-meal, and while Derek eventually emerged as the winner, Leon trailed behind separated by only one point (if you missed the show, you can still catch it here on meWATCH!).
Having been freshly crowned the runner-up of MasterChef Singapore, Leon is embarking on many projects of his own, including appearing as the host for SAFRA Jurong’s The Next Super Chef series where he will invite guest stars of the other contestants from MasterChef Singapore to share culinary tips together with viewers.
Here, we catch up with Leon in an exclusive interview to learn about some of his most memorable moments on the show and what we can expect from The Next Super Chef series.
1. First off, how do you feel about being the runner-up of MasterChef Singapore Season 2? Were you disappointed in any way?
I feel really honoured and glad to have gotten the runner-up position of MasterChef Singapore Season 2. I am really happy for Derek, and proud to see such a young person taking up the mantle of Singapore’s Next MasterChef. I am not disappointed at all, reason being that the experience in itself and my personal growth is a win for myself.
2. Share with us some of the most memorable moments you had during MasterChef Singapore Season 2.
One of the most memorable moment would have to be the part where Zephyr (MasterChef Singapore contestant) lent me her oven when I forgot to preheat mine. That was the one single encounter that bonded us and turned us into really good friends. Another memorable moment would have to be the part where Chef Mandy Pan cut into my dessert and it was dead centre. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the core of that dessert that I made.
3. What’s the biggest lessons you have learned in your journey with MasterChef Singapore?
The biggest lesson I learnt in my journey with MasterChef Singapore would be to trust my instincts and skills when I am cooking. Also, I think that another thing I have learnt is to appreciate the food and our unique blend of cultures in Singapore’s food scene.
4. You will be appearing at SAFRA Jurong’s Facebook cooking video series, The Next Super Chef. What will you be cooking and sharing with SAFRA’s members?
In this video series, I would not be cooking per se, but I have invited many of my good friends from the show to share with our SAFRA members some culinary and ingredient tips that they can apply in their day to day cooking.
5. Do you have any cooking tips for us? Tips which can be especially useful during this Heightened Alert phase where dining-in are not allowed.
I think one cooking tip I have for everyone who is experimenting with food at home is to keep a journal of your experiments, so that you do not make the same mistakes over again. For those who are experimenting, I would also suggest changing one variable each time when you are tweaking recipes so that you know what are the impacts of these changes.
6. We heard that you are a SAFRA member yourself, can you share which club do you normally frequent and which activities or events you have attended that you find engaging?
I normally frequent SAFRA Jurong and I use the swimming pools to exercise. I also enjoy the food and amenities there. Fun fact: I did join the SAFRA Ultimate Talent competition once and I made it to the Quarter-Finals.
7. Do you have any favourite F&B outlets or restaurants you like to frequent? Can you recommend any to us?
I frequent Goro Japanese Cuisine, Jai Siam, and Three’s A Crowd Café quite a bit. These are some of my favourite locations to dine-in as I get authentic and hearty food, at affordable and reasonable prices.
8. What’s next for you? Any future plans like opening a F&B concept?
I am currently working with my friends on a Halal Food Café, Creatr. (IG: @creatr.sg; FB: www.facebook.com/creatr.sg) It is currently in its soft launch phase. In addition, I am in discussions with my Tuition Centre to do a Hawker Preservation Enrichment Programme to educate our next generation on the importance and the legacy of our local hawker culture.
Be sure to catch Leon Lim as he hosts SAFRA Jurong’s The Next Super Chef series on 5, 12, 19 and 26 June and 3, 10, 17 and 24 July at 2pm on their Facebook page. Visit www.safra.sg/whats-on/thenextsuperchef for more information.