Expect keen rivalry and trash talking (oh, and good food and fun) from TV show Cooking For Love
They're both in their 20s, have been cooking from a young age, love their food and admit to being fiercely competitive.
So it's natural that Sarah Benjamin, 25, and Nik Michael Imran, 26, have been paired up as hosts-cum-competitors on food show Cooking For Love,where the pair vie to cook the best dish for a different family each week.
It airs on the Asian Food Channel (AFC) (StarHub TV Ch 435) on Tuesdays at 10pm.
Australian-Malaysian chef Nik told M: "Sarah and I met for the show, and had a few drinks to get to know each other better. You can see that we have good chemistry on the show; we're around the same age, like the same kind of music and of course, we're both passionate about food."
A finalist of reality TV cooking series MasterChef Malaysia in 2011, Nik has hosted AFC series Tea Twist, where he created his own tea-based drinks.
He also co-owns comfort food restaurant PickNik in Kuala Lumpur with his father, a professional chef.
As for the Singapore-born Benjamin, shewas named one of the winners in the first season of TV talent search show Food Hero last year.
She has since hosted travel food series Must Try! Asia, and is now based in Singapore with her British father and Peranakan-Chinese mother.
WHO'S MORE COMPETITIVE?
Nik: I'd say we're both quite competitive. We both want to give our best. We don't argue and fight, but there is a rivalry there. You can see there's a bit of trash talking when we talk about what the other person has cooked (laughs). But at the end of the day, it's all about making the family happy with our dishes.
Benjamin: If you asked any of my friends, they would tell you I'm extremely competitive. I think that I'm just a perfectionist by nature, and I tend to expect a lot from myself.
Nik and I are both competitive but fun-loving, and I think that makes us a good team. Although we can play around and trash talk each other, it is all in good fun.
WHICH EPISODE HAS BEEN MOST MEMORABLE FOR YOU?
Nik: It was the episode where I had to cook for a chef who doesn't like fish unless it's cooked really well. I saw that as a challenge - to cook an amazing fish dish for a family who really knew their food because they owned restaurants and bistros.
Benjamin: I especially enjoyed episode six - the last one - because (local celebrity photographer) Kevin Ou and his family encouraged us to cook fusion food and play around with flavours and techniques. As I am also a mix of East and West, that is how I love to cook - by combining cooking styles and ingredients from different parts of the world.
WHAT IS THE MOST ROMANTIC DISH TO COOK FOR A DATE?
Nik: It depends on whether you can cook. For some people, it could be instant ramen (laughs). But honestly, you won't go wrong with fluffy pancakes with melted butter, maple syrup, berries and ricotta cheese.
Benjamin: I think impressing a special someone should be more about a personal connection and less about the food.
So I always cook something simple but tasty, like a one-pan chicken, leek, mushroom and potato roast, which just has to be thrown into the oven. If you use good quality chicken, it will basically make its own gravy and it's so good.
WHAT'S YOUR PARTNER'S FAVOURITE DISH THAT IS COOKED BY YOU?
Nik: My fiancee absolutely loves my Sriracha fried rice. She studies in the UK and whenever she comes to my restaurant, she always wants that. I'll tell her, "We have so many new things for you to try!", but she always insists on that.
Benjamin: My partner is a huge food lover and always says that everything I cook is delicious - not sure if this is always true! But my blue cheese stuffed mushrooms are always a big hit. Beef stew and pasta are also huge comfort food favourites.
WHAT'S YOUR SECRET WEAPON IN THE KITCHEN?
Nik: It's got to be sea salt - it makes everything taste good. Benjamin: A good, sharp knife is an absolute essential. A dish with ingredients that have been perfectly chopped, diced or sliced really stands out and shows that skill and care have been put into cooking it.
FINALLY, WHO'S BETTER IN THE KITCHEN: MEN OR WOMEN?
Nik: From my personal experience, I would say men. Maybe I'm biased, because I grew up with my dad's cooking and not my mum's.
Women are great cooks, but I don't think they can handle the pressure of cooking in a professional kitchen. In my restaurant, if a female chef had a bad day and had 30 dockets in line, we'd be finished! The guys would have to jump in to save the day. As pastry chefs though, I think women would be better.
Benjamin: I don't think that any group of people is better. Cooking is all about being open-minded and willing to learn new things. So really, anyone can become a master of their kitchen.