MasterChef S'pore S3 winner says some hate comments 'not very fair' as there's more behind the scenes

However, criticism that his dishes are 'lacking in originality or creativity' are taken seriously, and Chew is working towards finding his style.

Lee Wei Lin | July 08, 2022, 03:58 PM

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The third season of MasterChef Singapore aired its finale this week, and 23-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) dental student Johnathan Chew went home victorious.

His win hasn't been met with the warmest of receptions -- and Chew knows it.

The undergrad spoke to Mothership late at night after ending classes, and was clearly under the weather as he apologised multiple times for coughing during our phone interview.

Hate comments "not very fair"

Before getting into anything else, let's address the elephant in the room.

With all the vitriol that's been surrounding Chew's win, it's unsurprising that he's aware of -- and even read -- some of these comments.

On this, Chew said:

"Sometimes I see comments, like... I'm not, okay, I'm not like, super affected, but I just thought like, it's not very fair. (But I understand because) it's stuff that isn't ever mentioned on the show."

Yes, he's seen the comments asking why he applied for dentistry if he's "not serious about school", or why he went on MasterChef if he's "not serious enough to quit school" for it.

"I just feel like as, as someone who was 21 or 22 years old,  I think it's valid," he explained.

"I think it's okay to pursue more than one, or to have more than one interest. To pursue more than one passion in life. I feel like there's no problem in that. I don't know... I just thought that it wasn't very nice for them to say that lah. But yeah, I mean, they say like more unkind things, so (laughs)."

Among some of these unkind things are those who have condemned his personality.

Chew averred:

"Obviously, whatever I say came from my mouth, right? But also, (the audience) need to know that the narrative of the editing process is beyond my control. There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that actually the audience don't see."

He explained that it takes 45 minutes to one hour each time they did backstage interviews, and that there were times he got "emotional" or "frustrated" while speaking to the camera.

This is why Chew feels that the way he was portrayed "isn't representative of who (he is) in reality," as the positive things that he said about the other contestants might not have made the final cut.

Taking "valid" criticism in stride

That's not to say that Chew regards all criticism equally.

He finds comments that blast his dishes as "lacking in originality or creativity" as valid, and is working towards finding his own style.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Johnathan Chew (@johnathancheww)

Admitting that he was "intimidated" at how much older -- and therefore experienced -- the rest of the contestants were, Chew felt that he didn't have a style of his own when filming for MasterChef first began.

For context, the two other finalist that Chew had to battle it out with were S "Nares"Nareskanna, 32, and Azwandi “Andi” Robani, 41.

He shared,

"I'm not saying I don't think I'm a bad cook you know, but I feel like I don't have my own style [...]. But towards the end I realised like hey, I think is important, or rather, I don't want to just cook run-of-the-mill dishes any more. I want to try to bring myself to into my cooking."

Not giving up on his education

Chew also cleared the air on rumours that he'll be giving up his education -- he fully intends to graduate and become a dentist.

He deadpanned, "I'm bonded (to the government). So, I can't just quit."

The undergrad also intends to open a bakery with his mum, although it's unlikely to happen in the near future.

Chew enjoys baking stuff that she finds "too sweet", such as cream puffs and cakes, while she's more of a traditional kueh person.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Johnathan Chew (@johnathancheww)

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Johnathan (@thebatteredboy)

After going through MasterChef, however, Chew thinks that it's possible to marry the two -- although he acknowledged that he'll need to put a lot of work into R&D (research and development).

He also wanted to clear the air on the misconception he feels many of those watching MasterChef have: that all contestants want to become a professional chef.

Chew explained:

"(The contestants come from) different backgrounds (and) we all have our own food dreams. I'm not just speaking for myself, I think -- but for a lot of us, our food dream isn't necessarily to be a professional chef.

I'm pretty sure if you want to be a professional chef, it's easier to go to like a cooking school, you know, like an actual culinary school, then get an apprenticeship at some restaurant. (...) It's not to join a reality TV show lah."

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Top photos from Mediacorp & Johnathan Chew's Instagram