Last year on MasterChef Australia, only one contestant earned an immunity pin by besting a guest chef with an extraordinary dish. So far on Season 10 of the cooking competition, three have been awarded. With current pin holders Sashi and Reece vying for seconds, could Jenny, Khanh or Samira win the coveted prize?
Indeed. With Vegemite, no less.
Melbourne DJ Khanh Ong, 25, earned the season's fourth immunity pin on Tuesday night. WHO asked him how he got the job done—and what's on his kitchen playlist.
Congratulations on securing the immunity pin! What was the feeling like when your score was slowly being revealed and you knew you had it?
Thank you so much. As I was waiting for my score, I was thinking, "OMG, I'm getting 3s. I will be the first person in MasterChef history to get less than double digits," but then once I figured out that I had done enough by the second score reveal, I was over the moon. It was unbelievable. Until that point, I was just sitting in the middle of the pack. I don't think I've ever been happier.
Did you have many (any?) recipes for Vegemite prior to coming to MasterChef?
I absolutely had no recipes for Vegemite besides Vegemite on toast, and just in case you're wondering, I like it thick.
It’s obviously an advantage over Jin to choose Vegemite. Did you think of the fish sauce substitution right away?
When I had the choice between peanut butter and Vegemite, it was a no-brainer. I'm a home cook going against a professional chef and I wanted to be on a level playing field with Jin. I knew it was a harder ingredient, but I thought It was so similar to fish sauce straight away and I use a lot of fish sauce.
Going back to the start of the contest, it was an ingredient/equipment identifying challenge. Were you wary of that? Is that anything you can study for?
I personally think I am quite strong in my food knowledge and that was obviously very helpful. I'm a little bit of a food nerd [laughs], but also I always planned to go with numbers I had a connection with. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm very about spirituality and the universe, so I kinda just let that guide me.
To this point, you had been a steady performer on the series but have been itching to break out of the pack. Did you sense when you arrived in South Australia that the tide was turning?
With cooks as strong as Reece, Kristen and Sarah in the competition, I was worried I was getting left behind and I knew I had to really push this week or my journey would be over a lot sooner than I wanted it to be. It's hard not being in front of the pack because If you don't impress the judges early, you run the risk of being forgotten and I don't want to be forgotten. I'm a little bit like Tinkerbell—if I don't get attention, I legit die.
Which contestant’s food do you enjoy most on the series in terms of competition dishes and just what you like eating in the contestant house?
Jess' desserts are incredible and Reece is just so imaginative. Those two really stand out because I'm just dumbfounded by sweets. I love them but I seriously struggle with them. In the contestant house, I love everyone's cooking. You learn so much about food eating everyone else's loves. In saying that, Chloe and I have charred broccoli and tuna with Jess' chilli oil most lunches and it's so delicious.
Do you have songs running through your mind as you cook?
So Reece and I meow the melodies of songs before and during cooks but then we got in trouble by audio because all they were getting were meows, so we had to stop that.
What songs are on your MasterChef playlist? Does music help you in the competition?
Music keeps me sane. Without a daily yoga practice, I become a little bit of a psychopath so I've basically been replacing yoga with music. To get hyped up, I listen to Beyonce's "Don't Hurt Yourself", Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me", but when I want to dance and have fun, it's all about Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
Do clients now expect you to cater as well as DJ?
I've actually had that conversation with some clients as a joke, but now I think it's a great idea—entertainment and catering. I'm gonna work on that.
In this week’s episode of WHO magazine’s TV podcast, Binge List, Matthew Denby, Clare Rigden and Gavin Scott discuss and debate true-crime drama American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, ABC series Mystery Road and Netflix food doco The Magic Pill. Plus, we ask To Binge Or Not To Binge The Good Fight and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and delve into Hidden Gem Dead Boss. Listen below, or on iTunes: http://po.st/syE3JF or OMNY: http://po.st/Bg4FlU