The Big Break on Asian Food Channel changed lives

When what you are watching is not just about food

I was invited to the exclusive press event held in conjunction with the finale of AFC Original Production, The Big Break at Resorts World Sentosa, thanks to Melissa ( I had a hard time trying to get to Equarius Hotel, but luckily, I reached just in time to watch the preview of the Big Break Finale. Here’s a little sneak peak…


So what is The Big Break?

The Big Break is a reality TV series featuring 12 less privileged youths from Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Mongolia, Thailand and the Philippines in a culinary competition for a scholarship at Singapore’s top culinary academy – At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. It is a project by the RWS Corporate Social Responsibility team, in partnership with Asian Food Channel (AFC).

The show is somewhat similar to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice program, concept-wise, where fifteen delinquent youths get mentored and trained under the chef at his restaurant competing to launch culinary careers.

The 12 had to pit against each other, battling for a grand prize of a scholarship worth over S$30,000 at At-Sunrice Globalchef Academy in Singapore, co-sponsored by RWS for a life-changing opportunity.


It’s about changing lives, breaking through and appreciating food

At a special preview of the final episode of this contest, I got to watch the 2 final episodes of The Big Break, where only three contestants remain competing in this final episode – Nico from Singapore, Lawrence from the Philippines and Eli from Malaysia. Watching the intensity and the pressure in the kitchen, something you might never see or know as a customer, I learn to appreciate the food that is served and the effort in preparing it.

the big break
Elizabeth aka Eli from Malaysia

There is 19-year-old Elizabeth from Malaysia, also known as Eli, the only child to a partially impaired left eye to a recovering alcoholic father, and diabetic mom.

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17-year-old Lawrence came from the Philippines. Abandoned by his father when he was 8, his mother could not afford to raise him and his 4 other siblings. They were sent away to live under the care of Tuloy Sa Don Bosco Street Children Village in Manila.

Nico Chan Jing Hao
Nico Chan Jing Hao

Then there is Nico, 18, the quiet looking boy was a troublemaker when he was younger, getting into trouble with the law and put in probation as a youth.

If you are like me, thinking this is just some Survival game reality show, perhaps some youth competing to reach the top, you are wrong. It’s a riveting, emotional and touching reality show, where these youths strive to make a difference in their own lives and not leave it to fate.

These people are the forgotten, the abandoned and the ones many people will look down upon. In Singapore, it’s a fact that if you are bad in your studies, the society will be looking down on you. Degree-holders are everywhere, and if you can’t study, you will be looked down on. I am happy for Nico, that he is back on the right path.

Episode 12
Episode 12

It touched me when I watch how Nico breaking down, after defeating Eli, to enter the final round with Lawrence. Why so? It was because, as much as wanting to get into the finals, Nico couldn’t accept the fact that Eli isn’t going on to the next round.

As I learn more about each of the apprentices as they rotate around the many high-profile restaurants in the resort, facing new challenges and different cuisines with diverse ingredients, I started rooting for different ones because of where they are from, or what they have been through.

Nico, because of the fact he’s from Singapore, and that he had changed for the better. Lawrence, how he had survived being abandoned by his father, and sent away by his mother. Eli, watching clips of past episodes on how she took care of the other apprentices like a big sister.

So who’s the winner?

Nervous moment... when the champion is about to be announced~
Nervous moment… when the champion is about to be announced~
Friends and bonds
Friends and bonds
I want them both to win... but there's only one winner
I want them both to win… but there’s only one winner
It's Nico!
It’s Nico!
the big break
Nico win a one-year scholarship at the prestigious At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore!

Congratulations to Nico. He won the competition because of his great and stable performances throughout the 13 episodes. The joy was there, though I can’t help but want them all to win.

I will never forget the statement Nico made at the end of the show, “I believe even though you are poor, you are abandoned, if you have a dream, you should follow it. I am thankful to be a part of this show and look forward to starting my scholarship at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy where I can really learn and develop my skills.”

The changes doesn’t end with the show

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Singapore contestant: Nico and Danny with Chef Alan Orreal and Ms Maria Brown
It was still emotional for Danny to share his experiences of The Big Break
It was still emotional for Danny to share his experiences of The Big Break

Yes, it’s touching. But is this one of the shows where everything just end after the show end? The 11 contestants who did not win, was it back to square one again? Does it mean only the champion will enjoy the fruits of success, and only one can win?

No. Maria Brown, co-founder and chief executive of the Asian Food Channel, shared with me how the youths who don’t qualify every week are granted a S$2,000 bursary by RWS, allowing them to continue with their education back home. As for the remaining sum of money, RWS will assist to cover as a loan, and when they graduate, they will get a job in RWS back in their native country.

Nico and Danny, apprentices from Singapore
Nico and Danny, apprentices from Singapore

Although this is a show available only on cable tv, I really hope Channel 5 can purchase it and broadcast on the local channel. I believe this is a show which will inspire youths who are feeling inferior because of their academic results or their poor family background.

When there’s a will, there’s a way. Opportunities wouldn’t come knocking on the door looking for you, you have to make the change you want to see in yourself and start looking for help and opportunities outside.

Watch it for yourself to feel the change.

Want to know more about The Big Break? Visit the Big Break offical website and like Asian Food Channel’s Facebook Page to be updated!

If you missed the exciting 1HR grand finale episode of ‘The Big Break’… CATCH the encores at the following timings:
Fri 1 Feb 10pm
Sat 2 Feb 10am ,5pm & 11pm
Sun 3 Feb 12pm & 7pm
Mon 4 Feb 8pm
Tues 5 Feb 1pm

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Event invitation from Asian Food Channel. No monetary compensation was received for the blog review.

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