never seen anything like it: From left, Nawamin Pinpathomrat with ‘MasterChef’ judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace and 2018 champion Kenny Tutt.
An amateur Thai chef described as “nuts” because of his eccentric food combinations wowed the judges in the final of Britain’s top TV cooking competition. Nawamin Pinpathomrat, 28, from Songkhla province, competed against two English chefs in Friday’s final of the BBC hit show MasterChef 2018.
They had beaten off competition from 53 other chefs in the previous rounds of a competition that saw them cook in top London kitchens and even travel to Peru, where the adventurous Nawamin served up a dish of piranha heads.
On seeing his three-course menu for the final, judge Gregg Wallace said: “Nawamin, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, you are nuts. We have never seen anything like it. Very few people do food theatre like you, but you can only pull it off if you deliver quality food, which you do.”
Fellow judge John Torode described Nawamin as “talented to the nth degree”.
His trio of dishes for the final used 50 ingredients and featured a dessert of a bird-shaped dumpling hatching an egg representing Nawamin coming of age in the kitchen. “I am ready to crack my shell and go out and fly,” he said.
His starter of lobster, salmon and scallops with granita, called “Boys on the beach” to represent Nawamin and his two brothers in their childhood, impressed the judges.
But his main course of duck red curry, infused with pear, was called “a bit tough”, while Wallace was critical of his intricate dessert. “It’s not easy to eat,” he said.
The theatricals are this time getting in the way of the dessert, not necessarily enhancing it.
Kenny Tutt, a 36-year-old bank manager from Sussex, was crowned MasterChef champion ahead of Nawamin and David Crichton, 41, a pilot from Manchester.
Nawamin got his love of cooking from his mother and grandmother, who taught him that he should grow his own ingredients.
After qualifying as a doctor in Thailand, he moved to England in 2015 to study for a PhD in clinical medicine at Oxford University. He is researching tuberculosis and trying to invent a new vaccine for the disease.
“I cook from my heart and passion and you can see my inspiration on the plate,” Nawamin said. “This will stay with me forever. It has been the best experience of my life.”
Torode said Nawamin “is taking the heart and soul of Thai food and putting it in the modern world”.
The MasterChef judges sparked an international incident in a previous round when they told Malaysian contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin that her chicken rendang was not crispy enough.
The remarks caused a furore in Malaysia, where the British high commissioner and Prime Minister Najib Razak pointed out that the dish should never be crispy.
inspiration on the plate: Nawamin showcases his innovative approach to cooking during the show. Above, the various Thai dishes which wowed the judges.