If you are a fan of Asian Food Channel (AFC) on StarHub Cable TV, you may have watched The Big Break, an original reality television series produced by AFC and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), where 12 underprivileged kids from six countries across Asia pit their skills in a series of challenges in pursuit of their dreams of becoming a chef. The winner will win a scholarship worth over $30,000 at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore.
Hosted by RWS Executive Chef Alan Orreal and AFC celebrity chef Farah Quinn, the television series offered an opportunity for disadvantaged youths to transform their lives by learning invaluable skills needed in the kitchen.
The Dining Table caught up with RWS Executive Chef Alan Orreal recently, where he shared his experiences in hosting the show and tips to young aspiring chefs who want to enter the culinary world.
Q: What led you to get involved with The Big Break?
This project has been growing for some time with many wonderful people from within RWS and AFC giving input out of a desire wanting to create something special. It’s not just a television show for us; we are invested in the lives of these young people and will continue to be so. My involvement started the moment I was shown the briefs, it’s been a wonderful experience and a privilege for me to have been part of it.
Q: From kitchen to TV screen, this must be a big break for you. Right?
To me, The Big Break is not just a reality TV series. It is something more than that. This show enables us to help a group of underprivileged children and to materialize their dreams.
Q: What was it you like to do the show? Share your The Big Break experiences with us.
In the beginning, there was some communication issues to overcome but the wonderful thing about food is that it transcends cultural boundaries as they are expected and accepted, working with food you realize that it has a universal language of its own and it is one of the few professions left that can be taught to anyone that has a willingness to learn. Hence, language barrier between me and the young aspiring chefs was not a major problem.
Q: What can the viewers expect in the upcoming episodes?
In the upcoming episodes, you will be seeing more challenges taking place at the RWS restaurants such as the episode which the kids learnt to make an Italian pizza from scratch. You will also be able to notice the progression of these kids in terms of their culinary skills and the bonding they have established after going through The Big Break days. The message that viewers can take back is that good culinary skills can be shared with anyone but more importantly, that human compassion is borderless, ageless and when it is focused on a joint vision the impossible becomes possible and people’s lives can be changed forever.
Q: Have you ever second-guessed any of your reactions, or decisions you’ve made on the show in terms of elimination?
As a Judge in any culinary competition, I am always looking for the understanding that one must respect the ingredients and to process them with skill and great care, a young chef must always be willing to listen and take direction. They must have a fundamental understanding of the chemistry at play when cooking and the ability to balance taste, colour and texture. Most importantly, in the case of our young contestants, I am looking for that love of food and the joy that it brings to prepare it for others. I believe I have been very decisive in all the decisions that were made during each week’s challenges, although it’s always sad to see someone getting eliminated. However, those who are eliminated get a $2,000 cash bursary from RWS as well. So I hope they will use this amount to further their studies or learn a skill that they like.
Q: What is your advice to these young aspiring chefs?
Very simple, you need to be willing to apply yourself, you have to work hard, study harder then, work hard some more. A career in culinary means that you have to be willing to practice the subtle art and master the many skill sets that it takes to be a modern chef, and understand that these take years. If you do this then you can expect to have a wonderful career full of incredible people and experiences that will teach and encourage you.
Q: Who do you think will win this challenge?
Everyone is a winner in my opinion.
The Big Break is now showing on StarHub Channel 435 (Singapore) every Wednesday at 10:00pm. For more information on The Big Break, visit http://www.asianfoodchannel.com/thebigbreak.
The Dining Table is giving away a Goodie Bag sponsored by the Asian Food Channel (AFC) to one lucky fan of The Dining Table. Click here to find out how you can win this goodie bag from AFC.
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