Estie Kung, contestant of reality culinary TV show Man vs Child, is proof that age is just a number when it comes to cooking. Although the adorable child prodigy is only eight years old, she can whip up a storm and prepare delectable delights such as deviled egg with lobster and celery, grilled salmon and chocolate lava cake.
“I’ve been cooking since I was three years old. I’ve watched my mother cook and developed a liking for it. It’s something that I love to do – be it making meatballs, stews or desserts,” said Estie who was in town to promote the show which premieres on Jan 26 on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709).
Man vs Child features pint-sized prodigies taking on culinary veterans, most of whom have been cooking longer than their challengers have been alive. Estie is the youngest contestant in the cooking competition that premiered in the United States last year.
Hosted by chef and TV personality Adam Gertler, the 13-episode series follows a team of five up and coming wonderkids who face off against a different chef each week for bragging rights.
In the series premiere, aptly titled Don’t Estie-mate Her, Estie whips up a Korean fried chicken dish with kimchi mayonnaise and Gochujang gastrique against Californian executive chef Frank Otte. Master chef Suzanne Tracht joins to blind taste and judge the winner.
“I’m the youngest and people tend to underestimate my talents. And that’s a big mistake as they should never underestimate my skills,” said the young cook, who further honed her skills reading cooking books and watching cooking videos on YouTube. She also grew up watching TV cooking shows by Chef Gordon Ramsey.
During the press conference, the Hollywood resident was like a ray of sunshine. She was chatty, quick-witted and has an impressive knowledge of cooking. Ask her how to flambe a steak and she’ll gladly share several tips that can put many of us to shame.
Despite her young age, Estie oozes confidence and seemed at ease with journalists. She was ever willing to belt out her favourite song, Get Into The Groove (Madonna), at the drop of a hat!
Estie loves the celebrity status that she has garnered from being on TV.
“I feed off of it,” said the young chef whose favourite foods include lobster, steak tartare and caviar.
When asked if children should be allowed into the kitchen to cook, she said: “If they are below five, they can start by using a butter knife to cut up ingredients. And get their parents to help. If they are over five, I’d say, go for it!” said Estie, who aspires to release a children’s cookbook.
And what’s her advice on ways to introduce new dishes to fussy eaters? “Don’t tell them what it is. If they don’t know what it is, they will eat it. After they have eaten it, you can burst the bubble,” said Estie, the youngest of two siblings, with a mischievous grin.
But when young Estie isn’t focused on the show, she’s pretty much like any ordinary child who enjoys listening to music by Katy Perry, reading Harry Potter books and hanging out with her peers.
Man Vs Child premieres on Jan 26 on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709). Showtime is 7pm (with a 10pm repeat).
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