14 Mar2011

For the past few months, I have been watching the U.S. MasterChef edition whenever I come across it while channel surfing on television. But recently, I have been closely following the Australian Junior MasterChef edition, writing down airing times on “post-its” so I don’t miss many episodes. The kids are engaging and amazing, the adults professional (critical yet nurturing) and basically it’s a great feel good kind of show. Most people don’t realize that the series has roots as far back as 1990 when the BBC in the U.K. first started airing a version of the show. It has evolved over the years, and I gather the latest format/evolution, Junior MasterChef, which debuted in 2010, has incredible viewer ratings in Australia and the U.K. So when I got a set of emails over a week ago from ABS-CBN asking if I would be interested in “seeing if I could do anything to help with the new Pinoy edition”, I gamely agreed. In my first meeting with the producers and director, we covered a wide range of topics, but since I am not a Chef, and more importantly, my Tagalog/Filipino skills are fairly appalling, I thought things would end there… but at least I could give them ideas about ingredients, markets and some recipes.

So I was truly surprised and kind of mortified that they asked me to “judge” the first batch of 100 or so shortlisted candidates in Metro-Manila and the surrounding provinces. I had a day’s notice and I realized this could be the end of a very serious diet. Nevertheless, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I showed up on time early at the Pinoy Big Brother House where auditions were scheduled and in the setting in the photo up top, Chef Michelle and I and some of the show’s producers and Director interviewed at total of 98 kids who showed up with a sample of the food that they had personally cooked. OMG, it sounded like a cool task, but 98 bites over 8 hours? Yipes! The energy and vibes were good, so yes, I did in fact taste EVERY SINGLE dish that the kids brought in. Adobos, dinuguan, sinigangs, mechado, gulay of all sorts and several other dozen types of pinoy dishes came plate after plate after plate. There were several western style dishes as well. Considering I have not had any carbohydrates for 37 days prior to this, nor salt, nor soy sauce or patis or sugar, let’s just say I broke every single rule in my diet dozens of times over! This will set me back a week, but you know what? It was TOTALLY WORTH IT. We asked each child to tell us something about themselves, their dish, other things they cooked, etc. After reviewing all 98, a certain number were shortlisted and they proceeded later in the day to an actual live cooking test which is set up in the photo above. I don’t want to disclose what it entailed, as further auditions around the country are still scheduled, and yes auditions are still possible for interested kids who want to join.

So in addition to the 98 tastes of dishes, Chef Michelle and I had to do dozens of tastes of the dishes that the kids were asked to cook on the spot with a recipe provided and a specified time limit. The entire day took nearly 14 hours, but it flew by quickly. And I was happy to have participated in one of the earliest stages of the process for putting together the show. This may not be the more visible and glamorous part that most folks see on television, but there was a raw honesty and palpable eagerness, excitement and nervousness that already made it quite special, so early in the game. I wish all of the kids well on their Junior MasterChef journey. And for the kids who don’t make it this time, try again next year! With a grand prize of PHP1 million for the winner and lots of other goodies, I sure wish I was 12 years old again!

Disclosure: I agreed to do yesterday’s judging and consultation for free, as I didn’t want any commitments beyond the day if I didn’t feel comfortable, and vice versa with the producers/director. However, ABS-CBN did want to pay me a consulting fee at the end of the day yesterday, which I gracefully turned down. Instead, I requested, if possible, passes for my crew and their families to attend/see their favorite ABS-CBN television show with lots of actors and actresses… a fair barter, don’t you think?

P.S. I posted a rare photo of myself (taken by Chef Michelle) on the set, so you all see what I look like at 172 pounds, and after 10 hours at “work”, because I am afraid that may be the lightest I will ever get after eating so much on the set yesterday! And finally, my favorite line from one of the producers who was probably trying to pump up my spirits/ego after about the 60th dish tasted…“If Australia Junior MasterChef has “The Shark” (is that the nickname for Matt Preston?!), we have “Marketman”…. HAHAHA. Don’t worry, I won’t let it get to me permanently. Many thanks to the folks at ABS-CBN, Chef Michelle, and to all the kids I met yesterday, you were AMAZING. Keep cooking. :)



  1. Aji says:

    OMG! I love the masterchef series! And I am astounded of the skills the kids showed in Junior Masterchef Oz. I hope we can replicate the same energy of the Australian version.

    Btw, looking good MM!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:23 am


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  3. Lou says:

    You look great MM! And what a worthwhile project to break your diet for.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:25 am

  4. cat says:

    wow! you look gorgeous mm! really worth the sacrifice.=)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:31 am

  5. millet says:

    OMG! you’re about to give no chef a run for his money…it’s Daniel Craig who should feel threatened, MM! you’re looking very, very good!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:39 am

  6. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Congratulations MM….am sure you will also have 98 new young foodies following your blog!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:09 am

  7. Mimi says:

    If I were 30 years younger Sali Ako! I love Junior Masterchef, especially that it inspires my own child to cook. Great gig, MM!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:25 am

  8. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Looking good MM !! How lucky the show had you as a consultant.You Rock!!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:27 am

  9. Bengski says:

    Hurray! This is great news! This means I’ll be watching you on TV very soon. I wonder when they’ll be airing the pilot episode? Now I can brag to my household who Marketman is, the very guy who wrote some lines to my “SUKI” tote bag some years ago. Still have that bag, although a bit tattered due to constant use…

    I saw an episode of Australian Junior MasterChef last night in StarWorld. Those kids are amazing. Can’t wait to see the Pinoy kids in Junior Masterchef Pinoy Edition! See you soon Marketman! Woohoo!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:34 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Bengski, I don’t think I am coming out on television, these are only the preliminary rounds of auditions… I think television is for the big name chefs… :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:36 am

  11. Libay says:

    Wow, a sexier MM! i bet that shirt of yours is a new one to suit your new slimmier figure :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:21 am

  12. Marketman says:

    Libay, hahaha! The shirt is 5 years old, but I haven’t been able to wear it for 3+ years! :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:28 am

  13. lalaine says:

    wow, marketman! you really have trimmed down. but more than the good looks, i am happy for you for improving your total health condition. all marketmanila readers surely would like you to be around for a long time :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:51 am

  14. Betchay says:

    Wow! you look a lot younger and more simpatico in your new weight!Keep it up!Congratulations!!!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:53 am

  15. cathyeresera says:

    Wow! Amazing! you really look Slim…. keep up the good work! It would be nice to see you on the show…. looking forward talaga…

    Mar 14, 2011 | 11:25 am

  16. Gej says:

    It’s great that ABS brought you in!

    Looking good MM. Was the picture before, or after you tasted EVERY SINGLE DISH the kids brought in? Ha ha!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 11:37 am

  17. Vanessa says:

    So trim, Marketman! Woohoo!

    Looking forward to this show.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 12:04 pm

  18. linda says:

    MM,sayang naman, you could have been a good judge and could have easily stolen Matt Preston’s thunder!!!!:). I really enjoyed watching the Aussie Junior Masterchef last year and didn’t miss an episode and I actually duplicated some of their creations at home with great success!.

    Congratulations on yr gorgeous and trimmed physique:) Actually, pukhang gumuwapo ka lalo:)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 12:24 pm

  19. Grace says:

    looking good MM!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 12:30 pm

  20. kai says:

    So the rumors are true! Meron talagang pinoy edition ang Junior Masterchef! Yey!
    Australian Masterchef is a fave, it’s so cute and inspiring! Such imagination coming from such young minds. :)

    Sino daw po host?

    Mar 14, 2011 | 12:56 pm

  21. ycae says:

    u looked great – happy & healthy.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 1:11 pm

  22. Maddie says:

    Love Junior MasterChef Australia! I get teary-eyed watching it. Great to know they are doing one here.

    On a separate note, now I’m wanting to do your diet!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 1:15 pm

  23. apple says:

    i thought junior masterchef Australia was so entertaining.. its been my favorite next to Top chef Just Dessert. I hope the Pinoy version can have an equally if not more talented kids!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 1:56 pm

  24. Carol says:

    Congrats, MM! It must be great to have that experience! :). You are indeed looking good and healthy, so pls do keep it up. Since you have broken all the rules recently, OK lang yun but be sure to go back to your diet program, otherwise, sayang ang pinaghirapan mo. My daughter will start her own program next week and I hope she can be as successful as you are in her wieght loss program. All the very best and congratulations again! :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 2:12 pm

  25. Peach says:

    Cool! :-) Such a great opporunity for the kids.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 2:45 pm

  26. nina says:

    i’m excited for a pinoy version of junior masterchef! The kids in Oz version are so fun to watch. My husband i are always in awe. I hope the pinoy version can help showcase and introduce our cuisine to the rest of the world, the show being an international franchise.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 3:09 pm

  27. sophie says:

    MM, even in the photo you look so slim… and yeap… it seems you are developing some ABS too. :D… i can see that your shirt fits you well, kudos to you for the rigid diet you undertake.

    i’ll really watch this Pinoy edition of Junior Master Chef… :)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 4:35 pm

  28. sandrita says:

    i’m half-excited, half-scared at how this pinoy junior masterchef will be handled. really hoping the kids will be treated well by the judges. since it’s a franchise, i’m guessing abs-cbn MUST stick to the “real food, real cooking” format, and not water it down with instant food, tita maggi-style cooking. fingers crossed and all that.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 4:57 pm

  29. Piaya says:

    Wow! You look stunning, younger and healthier MM! Keep it up!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:03 pm

  30. Piaya says:

    Wow! You look stunning, younger and healthier MM!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:03 pm

  31. FoodJunkie says:

    I wonder if there would be something like an “Adriano Zumbo” challenge in the Pinoy version. That would be a tough challenge!
    The kids in Junior MC in Oz were amazing. They could cook so many things that an average cook can’t. I myself don’t even know how to create gnocchi from scratch, hahaha

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:04 pm

  32. paranoia says:

    you rock MM! btw you look really great and YOUNG MM! :) i hope you’d be one of their main judges!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:39 pm

  33. RobKSA says:

    woooo you really look good!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:43 pm

  34. joyce says:

    you look great! and even taller. my chef friends are fans of the australian series and say they feel insecure when they watch it seeing all that culinary talent at such a young hehe.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 6:45 pm

  35. Junb says:

    Wow MM, trust me you are a celebrity now :) …. Can’t wait for your next TV appearance or a movie hehehe

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:12 pm

  36. Tonito says:

    On your rare photo…a pose a la James Bond would have topped the event.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:29 pm

  37. chinky says:

    you look great! you’re shirt is already too loose for you! Congratulations and looking forward to watching this show. our family loves top chef so this would be a good addition to the shows we watch.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:36 pm

  38. tipat says:

    Those kids on MCjr are amazing! You must feel very proud to have been part of the local screening. I would too, if I were you. Will be looking forward to that show :-)

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:36 pm

  39. Cheryl says:

    Great fit, MM! and congratulations! Yes, i affirm about what the producer had said!
    You are a star at par MM, and ABS-CBN knew that!
    i am looking forward to see the pilot episode of this show. i hope i will see you there, and am praying that you will really be in the panel as resident judge. big time na jud ka, MM!
    God bless u more!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:45 pm

  40. britelite says:

    am so looking forward to this show! if the kids can do it there is no reason that i can’t cook it too–the adult master chef contest is too sophisticated for me!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 7:57 pm

  41. sc says:

    looking good, mm! :) im sure household staff will be thrilled!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:08 pm

  42. atbnorge says:

    Yehey, TV celebrity ka na talaga, MM. I love Masterchef.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:15 pm

  43. eustressor says:

    My husband and I love watching Junior MasterChef Australia. The kids were truly inspiring and amazing! Ang gagaling nila =) Looking forward to watching the Pinoy edition.

    And you look really slim and fit MM, congratulations. Isa kang inspirasyon!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:25 pm

  44. robin says:

    looking great!!!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 8:48 pm

  45. Lei says:

    MM, you could be the food critic equivalent!!! really, you are a food critic and many of us here believe in your say especially when you go out of your way to dissect any dish for that matter. my small family loves watching this show, and it would be a great pleasure watching our own version if you were visible in future episodes.

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:23 pm

  46. satomi says:

    OMG!! you look great MM!!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 9:33 pm

  47. joey says:

    Oh wow! It is so heart warming to hear the positive response and performance of the kids in this! I fall in love every time I see Junior Master Chef (Oz) on tv as those kids are amazing and it really makes my day to see the younger generation so mindful of food! And to think now we are going to see our own youth do the same :) Oh, I know I am going to get weepy!

    You look amazing! Inspiration indeed!

    Mar 14, 2011 | 10:35 pm

  48. Footloose says:

    Ever so slightly off topic, an excellent and funny review of the new heavy weight cookbook “Modernist Cuisine.”


    Mar 14, 2011 | 11:15 pm

  49. KUMAGCOW says:

    you looked YEARS younger MM no joke… I should start shedding weight too I guess… hohummm

    Mar 14, 2011 | 11:51 pm

  50. greasemonkey says:

    congrats on the weight loss and keeping your cholesterol levels in check! i hope you do go on to be a judge on the show, you seem to be perfect for it. hmm, you think they’ll come up with an iron chef-ish show too?

    Mar 15, 2011 | 12:08 am

  51. wisdom tooth says:

    Looking great, MM!! Keep it up. So does your belt go around your waist twice now?? :)

    Mar 15, 2011 | 1:51 am

  52. natie says:

    you do look great, MM!! I still think you’d be a good judge–you have discriminating tastebuds, and a trained eye for plating..you’d be a kind-hearted judge to those aspiring kids…BUT the show might turn out scripted in the end….not your kind of scene, definitely!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 2:01 am

  53. bearhug0127 says:

    MM, hope you consider ABS-CBN’s offer when they ask you to be a judge on the show or maybe they already asked you? We would love to see Marketman on TV doing his thing. You could be a great inspiration for the kids and all of us who are Marketman junkies will have our fix too. And congratulations on the weight loss.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 2:32 am

  54. Lannie says:

    Hello MM. I’ve been watching MasterChef for years and am a big fan of John Torode and Gregg Wallace. I’m normally not fond though of the seemingly ENDLESS versions that spawn from successful TV programs but Junior MasterChef is one I do enjoy watching :) so glad that it’s making its debut in the Phils!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 5:18 am

  55. andrea says:

    you’re looking great, Mr. MM! congrats again!
    will be looking forward to that show!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 6:49 am

  56. peanut says:

    Looking good MM.Wish i have the same iron will as you.Never mind…as long as we are all happy.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 6:53 am

  57. crabbychef says:

    MarketMan, you have lost so much weight! Of course, my only basis is the rare photos of you posted on this site. I think it’s great that the local networks have taken on Junior Masterchef here. I’m a teacher by profession and training, so any efforts that are taken to educate children in other ways is always welcome. :) What I do want to ask is when we can come up with a totally original reality series based on food – not just a rehash or Pinoy version of something that is already a certified hit. Hmmm.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 7:44 am

  58. mary chen says:

    you radiate lightness mr MM. :) i have a daughter who knows and enjoy cooking but is too shy to join. she is 11. she watches junior masterchef every scheduled airing. hay sayang. wish ko sana

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:17 am

  59. Ley says:

    Hey, you look 10 years younger MM!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:23 am

  60. Pinksalmonlady says:

    You look awesome MM! You’re an inspiration to everyone. I love watching Masterchef Australia and UK. I reckon you will do justice if ABS-CBN will offer you to be one of the judges of Masterchef Pinoy Edition even if you are not a qualified chef.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:26 am

  61. Trish says:

    Hi MM! You’ve super trimmed down! Good job!!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 11:31 am

  62. jo says:

    MM, looking very hunk.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 11:54 am

  63. MiMac says:

    Looking good, MM!

    Your weight loss was good timing– good prep for your big debut on the actual JMC show! Yipee! (MM, I would surely start watching TV again if you’d be one of the judges!) :D

    Mar 15, 2011 | 3:30 pm

  64. edel says:

    Congrats, MM!!! I love watching Australian Junior Master Chef Edition.. hoping to watch you in the Philippine Edition

    ps…. great post-diet figure… hurray to Bond— James “MM” Bond :D

    Mar 15, 2011 | 8:59 pm

  65. Lissa says:

    You really look like you lost a significant amount of weight MM. Congratulations!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:57 pm

  66. tonceq says:

    “WOW!” is what I can only say after seeing your picture! You’ve definitely trimmed down MM! Hope they place YOU in the show itself! That’s one thing to look forward to on local TV! :)

    Mar 15, 2011 | 11:10 pm

  67. cumin says:

    You’re looking good, dude. As many readers said, you also look younger.

    Seems this show will be competing with a GMA-7 show, The Search for the Kitchen Superstar, to be launched next month (Inquirer report).

    Mar 16, 2011 | 10:35 am

  68. Trish says:

    A Philippine edition of the Junior MasterChef is a great idea !!! I follow the series (both the US adult chef version and the Australian Junior edition). I am just sooo amazed at all the talent, skill and creativity we get to see.
    The foreign versions work for me because they focus on the food, the chefs, the skills, the learnings and do not try to sensationalize things with sob stories and too much personal stories of each contestant.

    I really hope that the people behind the Pinoy version will not treat this as the usual “Big Brother” show and spend sooo much time on personal details, drama and sob stories. A little personal background is fine but shouldn’t make it lose its focus on the show’s purpose, which is to highlight the cooking and the creativity of all these wonderful li’l chefs.
    This is a great opportunity to let real talent shine and to leave too much human angles for their other reality shows.
    Who knows, doing a more focused show will even help inspire others to look at this wonderful profession.

    Your talent, creativity, love for food and sensible nature will truly add credibility to the show. Hope you get to be part of the MasterChef team as it goes on air.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 10:44 am

  69. fanny says:

    I love both the US Master Chef & the Australian Junion Master Chef shows. The kids are amazing! Last night while “channel surfing” I discovered there’s also “Australian Junior Master Class” where the same three judges teach kids basic cooking techniques & recipes. It was fun watching and learning, too!

    Mar 16, 2011 | 7:17 pm

  70. Eden Claire says:

    i only get to watch it last Sunday, looks interesting!

    Mar 17, 2011 | 11:02 am

  71. marilen says:

    You are looking so great, MM! And how wonderful that you are working with the future chefs of tomorrow. What a great way to introduce young children to good food and cooking skills.

    Mar 18, 2011 | 8:10 am

  72. Mart says:

    Haven’t watched MasterChef myself but I absolutely enjoy TopChef (BRAVO network) here on cable in the US. The chefs really know their stuff and I always crave for something YUM! to eat after every episode.
    And the TopChef show is also responsible for me planning “food trips” rather than sight-seeing (i.e. visiting landmarks) trips.

    And you look fantastic MM!

    Mar 18, 2011 | 8:33 am

  73. rv says:

    You look amazing MM!

    I am a fan of Junior Masterchef Australia and has been inspired by the way the show was made. The kids were amazing and outrageously talented for 8 – 12 year old kids. I am excited for this show to air and I hope they don’t disappoint.

    Mar 18, 2011 | 10:35 pm

  74. Peanutbeanma says:

    It’s nakakahiya to watch junior masterchef.
    Nahihiya ako because i can’t cook as well as the “least” talented of them!!! Hahaha A Pinoy edition? How exciting! And
    Congratulations on the weight loss mm!

    Mar 19, 2011 | 9:10 am

  75. juls says:

    MM, you look thinner than during the shoot w/ Anthony Bourdain…

    Mar 19, 2011 | 1:36 pm

  76. ponchit says:

    You will make a very good judge

    Mar 19, 2011 | 5:08 pm

  77. Zita says:

    Looking good MM. By the way, where’s your ascot? :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 2:54 pm

  78. Caffie says:

    Thank you for sharing! Will loOk forward to your updates on jmc phils. : )

    Mar 23, 2011 | 9:28 pm

  79. jozille says:

    u should invite pierre,… that’s all i can say,…

    Mar 24, 2011 | 7:02 pm

  80. patricia marfil says:

    can a 13 years old kid join this competition?

    Apr 21, 2011 | 3:14 pm

  81. PJ says:

    MM ask ko lang po kung tapos na po ba lahat ng auditions ? Saan po ba pwedeng pumunta pag may auditions pa?

    May 4, 2011 | 3:38 pm

  82. Marketman says:

    PJ, I think auditions are long over. patricia, the competition is for 8-12 year olds, so I suppose it’s obvious a 13 year old does not qualify.

    May 4, 2011 | 3:42 pm

  83. PJ says:

    MM may natitira pa po bang slot para sa mga nagauauditions ?

    May 5, 2011 | 3:47 pm

  84. vlad says:

    MM may auditions po ba sa davao?? kc doon po kami ngtira..tapos na po ako ngapply sa jmc phils.

    May 11, 2011 | 2:54 pm

  85. sofia bliss says:

    awesome junior master in phil. great this is really amazing

    May 12, 2011 | 8:39 am

  86. PJ says:

    MM may alam pa po ba kayung lugar na may auditions ng junior masterchef pinoy edition….????

    May 21, 2011 | 2:38 pm

  87. lat-80s says:

    alam nyo po ba kung magkakaroon ng Master Chef Phils for grown ups?? tnx!!!

    Aug 13, 2011 | 8:15 am

  88. alrei says:

    wow! sana sumli dn pla ako nu! hahaha
    nextime sana mga age of 15 above nman mag compitition.

    Sep 2, 2011 | 6:44 am


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