On October 21 2018, Singapore crowned our first MasterChef, Zander Ng. The 30-year-old impressed the judges during the finale with his five-course fusion dinner spread, which included dishes like flank steak with Asian chimichurri and fettuccine carbonara with Sichuan peppercorns, going on to win the title plus a cool $10,000 cash prize.
Half a year on, Zander admits that he constantly forgets he emerged the victor the competition. But life for the former IT professional has changed a lot. For one, he's joined in the social movement to thank our hawker heroes, an initiative to garner more public support for Hawker Culture to be inscribed into UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (you can check out his top pics on Instagram). We catch up with him as he shows us his side of Singapore, namely his favourite spots to eat.
Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak
“Some of my earliest memories are of eating with my younger brother and dad. Of those early childhood dishes, the one I was most obsessed with was nasi lemak. I used to stay near Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak and would always go for that. It uses basmati rice so the texture of the grain and flavour is exceptional. The sambal is also very good.”
“I first visited Burnt Ends when it opened and continue to go back till this day. It consistently puts out incredible food and I love the communal dining aspect of it where all the guests face the kitchen. Chef Dave Pynt is a really nice guy. We chit-chat on occasion and I have massive respect for him and his journey as a chef from Sydney, working for big names like Tetsuya (Wakuda). Dining there reminds me of my time in Australia.”
Burger Joint Singapore
“I love my craft beer. And my go-to spot for craft beer is Burger Joint. The variety it has is unbelievable, and the selection is skewed towards those who love their IPA, and I love my IPAs! The way it takes care of its taps is also the best I’ve come across.”
A place to call his own
“Since MasterChef, I’ve been given amazing opportunities to work with top chefs, restaurants and hotels. I feel like there is still so much more I need to learn. So far, I’ve done restaurant takeovers, pop-up events and recipes for certain products and food suppliers. There’s a good chance I’ll be doing more TV again.”