Emily's Life After MasterChef

Sunday, May 22, 2016 Sharon Halim 0 Comments

Born in Borneo, East Malaysia, Emily Loo was one of the top 24 contestants in MasterChef Season 6 (2014). The Spice Queen remembered clearly that she grew up in an underprivileged family where she had to borrow some ingredients from her neighbour when they ran out of food. It was when she was about 8 that her family circumstances improved and since then her life has changed.

From an early age, Emily began to develop an interest in cooking. However, her family was concerned about her obsession with food and cooking. She was not allowed to pursue a chef's career path because she had very good grades in her school. In typical South East Asian culture, formal education is prioritised above everything else. Asian parents have a tendency to encourage their children to get more professional and secure jobs such as doctors, lawyers or engineers. 

Eventually, she ended up coming to Brisbane to further her studies and graduated as a Biomedical Engineer from Queensland University of Technology. But deep inside, she still wanted to be a chef. 

“During university, I worked in a fine dining restaurant, washing dishes for $25/hour. I learned a lot about a chef's life which is highly intense and demands long hours of work,” said Emily. It crossed her mind that maybe her mother was right after all for discouraging her chef ambition. Some chefs even get into alcohol and drugs to relief their stress. She started her career working as an Engineer, before proceeding to become Sales Coordinator and Media Host for the South East Asian Market for the Tangalooma Island Resort.

Later she learned from a friend, a Malaysian chef, that it is possible to follow a career as a professional chef and still lead a normal life living happily with his wife and kids. It was the trigger that inspired her to quit her job and have a shot at MasterChef - "if you don't experience, you will never know".

Two months of competing in MasterChef changed her outlook and her life. Emily told Yummed that MasterChef experience was so wonderful and amazing. “I got the taste of the industry. I've been through it and now I know. It's not just a cooking show; there's public relations, media, mind games and understanding peoples' personality”, said the cook who is now well known for her Sarawak Laksa.

“After MasterChef I took a long holiday to ponder what I want to do for the rest of my life. My parents suggested I stay in my day job, but the time had come to live my own life and make my own decisions. So I followed my dream and the rest is history."

She has started living her dream as an apprentice at The Wolf, Brisbane, and will become a qualified chef by the end of this year. The whole dessert section was designed by Emily.

Her final advice for the reader: "Love of cooking and doing business as a professional chef are two very different things. Both cooking and business are really tough, you have to have be fully dedicated and ready to work twice as hard and put in a lot of commitment to succeed".