I think I've been hiding in the MasterChef 'closet' far too long, but I AM BACK!!!! How I've missed you all! But first of all, I would like to apologise to all my friends and family for turning into a big fat liar for the last six months. I'm sorry! I tried to cover up my involvement in MasterChef with all sorts of excuses and lies, for the sake of trying not to ruin the surprises. I think it was worth the effort of biting my lip and not spilling the beans, so that you all can watch it first hand on TV. And then a silly mis-scheduled tweet had me grounded and the delay of this post (trust me, my wrist definitely got slapped hard by many). But please accept my sincere apologies for being a silly Billy. But anyhow I am back and despite my MasterChef 'journey' is officially over, it's actually just the beginning of a whole new chapter of my culinary life and I can't wait to get back into the real world to share my experience with you all!
One of the most common questions I get asked is "What was it like being on MasterChef?" With no hesitation, I would answer wholeheartedly that I absolutely loved it and enjoyed every single moment of the experience but at the same time, I always leave my answer with a warning, "It is bloody hardwork!"
You can read an article by Stephanie Wood on SMH who spent a day documenting what goes on behind-the-scenes in MasterChef house and kitchen and revealed the $500/week wage back in May, not by me.
Are you still feeling the love after reading Stephanie's article? But don't get me wrong, if they asked me to come back again, without a doubt I will go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat! Hang on...... I already did! Silly me! :D
Seriously, and this may sound cliché, but it was definitely one of the most rewarding, money can't buy experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Yes, we were there to make a TV show and yes, we were there to learn about cooking, but you'll be amazed by how much I've learned about myself just to be part of it.
Never underestimate the power of strong bonding with 23 strangers living under one roof, soon they became my surrogate family and we all helped and supported each other throughout the whole experience. When there's no one else to talk to except the other 23 contestants that I lived with, I eventually found myself a lot more comfortable to open up and share my personal stories with others. I actually hadn't noticed any changes in myself until the others including the judges told me so. Then, I saw myself on TV, a man of few words with the most awkward Asian accent and bad Engrish had gradually became more relax, lot more talkative, and even quoted Cher with a straight face, go figure! Yep, that's me, I think I have changed... for the better.
Let's fast forward six months later, I've been eliminated (twice!) from the competition and made it to the Top 7. Disappointed? A little. Any regrets? None what so ever. When I found out I got accepted into Top 50 last year, before packing my bags ready to pursue this MasterChef experience and leaving my partner (The Pom), the dog and the cat behind, the last thing he wanted me to promise him is to do the best I can and cook with integrity, stay true to myself and do not change who I am. This may sound cheesy but that's exactly what I've done in the competition, cooked with confidence, honesty and self respect. The judges always tried to fire me up, wanting me to be competitive, but sorry, that's simply not me. Self confident and being competitive are absolutely two different things, I do not have to fist-punch the air and yell my lungs out "I AM THE NEXT MASTERCHEF!" every single time I stepped into the kitchen. I am not all sad that I didn't win MasterChef title. Well, let's look at the bright side, if I have more recipes published on the Masterchef's website than the other contestants, it tells me that I must be doing something right, right? ;) The future is up to me now.
I'm proud of all the dishes I've put up on MasterChef, even the bad dishes that landed me in Pressure Tests. Everyone has his good and bad days in the kitchen and so did I; plus I also know that I have my own strong points and weaknesses in cooking and these are the learning curves that made my MasterChef experience a hell lot more exciting! I've cut the judges with my flavours and received some of the best comments from them more than I could have ever asked for, other times I have stumbled, crashed and burned and then had to crawl my way back to the top again. Imagine if I just stayed in the middle of the pack serving up food that is mediocre and flew under the radar just to make it the Top 10, it would be so boring and an opportunity wasted. Wouldn't you think so?
So, what's next? I hear you ask. Things are a little hectic at the moment with a bunch of media interviews, but I can guarantee you that this blog A Table For Two is here to stay! There's no turning back, I am leaving my old web design career behind and moving forward focusing on this food blog. I will gradually post up recipes of dishes that I cooked on MasterChef plus those that never made it on the TV screen. Stay tuned! In the mean time, I have other exciting plans in the pipeline including cookbook, cooking classes and "Just Desserts" degustation private dinner events! I hope you are as excited as I am! So if you do want to stay in touch with me and what I’m doing, the easiest way is probably to follow my blog, atablefortwo, subscribe to ATFT's Titbits for latest updates. Alternatively you can follow me on twitter (@atablefortwo) and more than welcome to send me some love at the ATFT facebook page.
Last but not least, I would like to say a genuine and heartfelt thank you to all of the people who have supported me and cheering me on (#TeamBilly yay! LOL!) for the last few months, all your kind words and wishes, they mean a lot to me, and I can't wait to meet you all in the real world!
Also, thank you so much for supporting #TeamBilly and bought the tshirt, we have donated USD$331.18 to the KILT - Khmer Independent Life Team in Cambodia! Well done guys!
Keep cooking and keep cutting with your flavour!