MasterChef Australia contestant wants to open dessert and whisky bar in Perth by year end
Inspired by homegrown dessert queen Janice Wong and her 2am:dessertbar, MasterChef Australia Season 8 contestant Karmen Lu hopes to open her own dessert and whisky bar in Perth, Australia, by the end of the year.
The 24-year-old Vietnamese-Chinese Australian, who is known as this season's "dessert queen", was in town last week for a media session held at 2am:dessertbar at Holland Village, where she whipped up Chocolate Mousse Cake with freshly churned Whisky Ice Cream - with a little help from Wong - for guests.
Before coming to Singapore, Lu had already heard about Wong, who won the Asia's Best Pastry Chef award at the prestigious San Pellegrino Asia Top 50 Restaurants in 2013 and 2014.
Wong made a guest appearance on last season's Masterchef Australia - where she administered a pressure test that challenged contestants to re-create her signature dessert, the Cassis Plum.
The eighth season of the popular reality TV cooking series is airing on Lifetime (StarHub TV Ch 514), weeknights at 8pm.
Lu, who holds a degree in mine and engineering surveying from Curtin University, told M: "She's definitely very inspirational because she's not doing the regular thing, she's trying to reinvent (desserts) and taking them to a whole new level where you wipe the plate clean and just do something new.
"Whereas my style is to take something and put my own twist to it to make it a little different, but still keeping it familiar to people."
Although Lu is inspired by 2am:dessertbar's concept, she still has to adapt it for Perth, as the food scene there is very different.
Her parents were not exactly encouraging when she told them that she wanted to work in the food industry. Her father has been a chef at a Chinese restaurant for the past 20 years.
She said: "My goal for joining MasterChef was to prove to my parents that I can make something out of this, to show them that I have the skills, so that they will be more confident in me in wanting to open my own business."
Lu started baking when she was in primary school for baking day events.
In high school, she chose cooking as one of her electives, and that's when she became more exposed to preparing different types of food, aside from desserts.
She said: "My parents didn't influence me because my dad cooks Chinese food... but it's just not my preference because I think I grew up eating so much of it... and my mum cooks only Vietnamese dishes. Neither of them can bake at all."
Lu's most memorable moment from MasterChef Australia Season 8 was the auditions.
She said: "There were over 50 people there with their families, the atmosphere was really intense, but it was nice because all of us have the same dream, and it was nice talking to people who have the same interest as I do."
But during the competition, Lu felt she "couldn't make a dish" that she was "truly 100 per cent satisfied with".
She said: "I'm very critical of myself and I like to plan as well, and for some challenges we had to make a dish with a particular ingredient. I would never get the chance to make what I really wanted."
Whisky ice cream.