MasterChef Asia's Singapore finalist trying to cope with newfound fame
MasterChef Asia finalist from Singapore Woo Wai Leong trying to cope with his newfound fame
He was a lawyer by day and bartender by night.
Now, Woo Wai Leong can add celebrity to his resume as well.
The MasterChef Asia finalist, who represents Singapore in the reality TV cooking show, gets recognised so much on the streets here that his newfound fame has sometimes interfered with his work and life in general.
Known as Leong in the hit Lifetime series, the 27-year-old quit his law job after the opportunity to join MasterChef Asia came up.
MasterChef Asia, since it first premiered three months ago, is a top show on the StarHub cable channel.
Woo, a Singaporean, is one of the two finalists - the other being Marcus Low - who will slug it out for honours in today's finale episode that will air at 9pm on Lifetime (StarHub Ch 514).
He said he is taking his newly-minted celebrity status in stride.
He told The New Paper: "I was walking in the middle of the road one day and this dude stares at me as he walks by.
"Suddenly I felt him tap me on my shoulder and he asks to take a selfie with me right in the middle of the road.
"A lot of times, people just stare at me and it can get quite awkward."
When he was bartending at The Horse's Mouth recently, a group of students arrived for post-party drinks after their prom.
Cue the unabashed staring when they first saw Woo.
Mayhem erupted as they recognised who he was, with the female students' screams filling the bar.
Even on a recent trip to Hong Kong, he was recognised by Singaporean tourists.
Woo said he always obliges requests for selfies, but he's relieved that Singaporeans do not go over the top with fandom here.
"I'm getting used to dealing with it. If my family is with me, they simply have a good laugh about it.
"I have not let it change me or made me more mindful of my appearance when I step out of the house. I still wear shorts when I go for a walk along Orchard Road," said Woo, who lives in the neighbourhood.
The downside to being in the limelight?
Everyone will weigh in with their two cents' worth.
He admitted that what was tough about the entire MasterChef Asia experience was hearing people comment that it was "easy".
At times, people would tell him that what he presented on a plate, after an hour of cooking on an episode, did not meet their expectations.
Some even told him that they would have done better than him.
Said Woo, with a laugh: "To everyone who thinks that what we do is easy, go sign up for the show's second season (if there is one), then come tell me if it is really easy!"
Suddenly I felt him tap me on my shoulder and he asks to take a selfie with me right in the middle of the road.
- MasterChef Asia finalist Woo Wai Leong
Pastry shop dream coming true soon
Marcus Low's plans to open his own pastry shop in five years' time got moved forward when he made it to the MasterChef Asia finale.
The 24-year-old bank employee who specialises in risk management had last year drafted the plan to pursue his passion.
Now, Low, the MasterChef Asia finalist from Malaysia, has said "bye" to his five-year plan and intends to open a pastry shop the first chance that he gets.
"The thing about MasterChef Asia is that once you get in it (and have a taste of cooking on such a scale), it's hard to leave it," he told TNP.
Low, who is known as Marcus on the show, takes on Woo Wai Leong from Singapore for the winner's title in the finale tonight.
"My girlfriend said that me being on this show is a good thing, as fame is good for setting up a business.
"I am now looking for places to rent to set up my pastry shop," said Low.
For the finale, the soft-spoken dessert expert wants to showcase pastries with his own local spin.
For example, he is thinking of making key lime pie, an American dessert, with calamansi instead.
Being accepted on MasterChef Asia was a dream come true for Low, who has been a fan of the show since its predecessor versions from the US and Australia.
He had auditioned for MasterChef Australia, but did not make it.
Low said that his biggest bugbear as a contestant was working out of a kitchen that was not his own.
"When you are at home in your own kitchen, you know where everything is.
"And there is no time limit so there is no pressure," he said.
He said that all the finalists from countries such as India, Vietnam, China and the Philippines, ended up as good friends because they were not allowed to have any Internet connection during the six weeks when they filmed the show.
"So when we had breaks, we would just talk about food 24/7," he said.
The thing about MasterChef Asia is that once you get in it, it's hard to leave it.
- MasterChef Asia finalist Marcus Low