When did you start learning to cook, mama? If the answer is “at 4 years old,” then you and 8-year-old Man Vs Child: Chef Showdown star Estie Kung have something in common!
After a successful debut in the U.S., Lifetime’s Man Vs. Child: Chef Showdown has debuted on our screens this week! Pitting young prodigy cooks against professionally-trained adult chefs, the cooking competition series makes for an interesting challenge of skills and techniques in the kitchen. These young prodigies range from just 7 years old to 14 years old (honestly, did their mamas read cookbooks to their bellies before bed?), and have apparently been hiding in their home kitchens and hovering over (or just under?) stoves before making their big debut in the new series.
Each episode is made up of three cooking rounds, set to test each competitor’s abilities and mastery in the kitchen, from the nitty-gritty like making sausages from scratch to something as deceivingly simple as preparing the perfect omelette. Resident judges and commentators – chef-restaurateur Mike Isabella and private chef Alia Zaine – are on the panel, tasting the dishes to determine which chef, expert or child, has created the most delicious and inventive plate. The final round will feature a blind taste-test by a world-renowned master chef such as Hubert Keller and Ludo Lefebvre that will determine the ultimate winner – the professionals or the young contenders.
Just before the launch of the series, we were treated to a live showdown of one of the prodigies, 8-year-old Estie Kung (who was just 7 years old at the time of filming), against Head Chef Justin Hammond of Keong Saik hotspot Neon Pigeon. The feisty little American culinary star whipped up a scrumptious Pan-seared Salmon and Clam Chowder Sauce dish, while Chef Justin upped the ante with a delectable Curry-Spiced Pan-seared Duck off the Neon Pigeon menu. We have to say we were in awe at the swift skills of young Chef Estie, who has a penchant for caviar and cites Gordon Ramsay as one of her inspirations. Being exposed to world-class eats from a young age has led her to develop a passion for food while picking up tips and tricks of the kitchen from her mother. She even travels with a professional knife bag!
Although she’s only been cooking for a few years (hard to have cooked for longer since she’s only 8), Estie has already started looking far ahead and plans to write a cookbook for kids to cook professionally just like her. A lover of all kinds of food fare, she said her future cookbook won’t have just the usual Western and Asian dishes, but will also include a variety of cultural eats from France to Japan and even Mexico.
Keep your eyes peeled for this one mamas, because you may just be looking at a Michelin-star chef in the works!
Catch Estie and more budding young chefs on Man Vs. Child: Chef Showdown every Tuesday, 7pm local time on Lifetime (StarHub TV Channel 514)