The contestants in ‘Junior MasterChef Australia’ have had the help of the judges to settle into the reality show’s bustling TV kitchen.
And now 11-year-old contestant Ryan Cheliah has spoken about the judge he particularly connected with while filming.
The son of 2018 ‘MasterChef’ winner Sashi said he enjoyed the way Melissa Leong mentored him and his co-stars with her warm nature and enthusiasm.
“The judge that I connected with the most was Melissa due to the fact that I found she was like a teacher introducing you to a new classroom, and making you feel nice and warm and like you belong there,” Ryan told HuffPost Australia.
The young cook, whose father was born and brought up in Singapore, said he also bonded with Mel over culture, proving just how important it is to have a culturally diverse judge on the show.
“She’s also from Singapore so we connected on multiple things like the cuisine, culture and everything like that,” said Ryan.
Earlier in the week Ryan described a delicious dish he prepared for the judges, saying it was “chicken that’s been marinated in Chinese/Malaysian flavours”.
He had taken inspiration from his father’s culinary style, with Sashi’s Adelaide restaurant Gaja by Sashi dishes “influenced by Indian, Singaporean and Malaysian classics”.
Sashi has previously spoken about how important his culture is in when he’s in the kitchen.
He was one of seven children who was born and brought up in Singapore after his grandparents migrated to the country from Madurai, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He grew up eating plenty of home-cooked Malaysian and Singaporean food and like his son, developed an interest in cooking from a young age.
Meanwhile Ryan is stoked to be on the cooking show spin-off, saying it feels “really nice to be on TV” and it’s his time to shine after learning to cook from his dad.
“People are going to know me for me, Ryan, instead of, ‘Oh that’s Sashi’s son’,” he said.
Ryan is one of 14 contestants aged 9-14 on ‘Junior MasterChef Australia’.
‘Junior MasterChef Australia’ airs on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10.