EIGHT-year-old child wonder Estie Kung is one of the stars of Lifetime’s Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown, so when she found herself in a culinary faceoff with Filipino celebrity chef Sau Del Rosario at the Diplomatic Hall, Grand Ballroom, of Marriott Hotel Manila last Wednesday (January 13, 2016), she showed no fear and gamely took on the seasoned chef.
Little chef Estie is on an Asian tour of Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore to promote Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown, an A+E Networks production that premieres in Asia on January 26, 2016, and will be on every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on SkyCable Ch 65, SkyCable HD Ch 199, Destiny Cable Ch 44 (Analogue) Ch 65 (Digital) and other select provincial channels. The showdown with chef Sau Del Rosario last Wednesday was Chef Estie’s meet-up with Philippine media.
Hosted by chef and TV personality Adam Gertler, Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown is an exciting cooking competition series that features pint-sized prodigies taking on culinary veterans. It’s a 13-episode series that follows a team of five up-and-coming child cooking wunderkinds—Estie, 8; Dylan, 11; Emmalee, 12; Cloyce, 13; and Holden, 14—who face off against a different executive level chef each week for bragging rights.
Each episode is made up of three rounds of cooking set to test the competitors’ abilities and kitchen mastery, such as making sausages from scratch and preparing the perfect omelette. The kids nominate a teammate to face off against the expert in each challenge. In the first two rounds, resident judges and commentators (chef-restaurateur Mike Isabella and private chef to the stars Alia Zaine) will taste the dishes to determine which chef has created the most delicious and creative plate.
The winner of each of the first two events will be awarded an advantage in the next round, which includes preventing their competitor from tasting their food as they prepare it and forcing them to take a 10-minute break during the allotted cooking time. The final round will feature a blind taste-test by a world-renowned master chef, such as Hubert Keller and Ludo Lefebvre, that will determine the ultimate winner. Will it be the professionals or the kids?
The series premiere is titled Don’t Under-ESTIE-mate Her and features Chef Estie Kung, who is the youngest chef on the show. She cooks up a mean Korean fried chicken dish with kimchi mayonnaise and gochujang gastrique. Chef Estie, who is half-Chinese and half-American and lives in Los Angeles, California, shows the stuff she’s made of and wows the adults on the show.
To drum up awareness and interest in Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown, Chef Estie (yes, she loves to be addressed as ‘Chef’) is on a promotional tour of Asia for the show’s launch on Lifetime. In each country that she visits, Chef Estie is pitted against a local chef of celebrity status, and, in the Philippines, it happened to be Chef Sau.
Showing respect and admiration for each other, Chef Sau and Chef Estie gamely cooked away during their culinary showdown at Marriott. As always, Chef Sau calmly prepared an impressive dish, Sea Bass with Mushroom Risotto, while Chef Estie stepped on a high pedestal to reach the work station and went to work on her Grilled Salmon with Clam Chowder Sauce. The two finished cooking one after the other, gave each other a High Five, and then tasted each other’s dishes.
Chef Sau loved Chef Estie’s crunchy-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside salmon, while Chef Estie could not stop eating Chef Sau’s sea bass with risotto dish.
A natural in front of the camera, Chef Estie started cooking at age 3, after about a year of watching her mom Laura prepare their family meals and asking her mom tons of questions about the dishes she cooks. The child wonder watched Junior Master Chefs and wanted to join but was still underage at that time. Now that she’s on Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown, she wants everyone to watch it and see how she measures up against all the veteran chefs and how she fares among the kiddie prodigies on the show.
“We think Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown will really resonate with the audiences in Asia. Child prodigies and cooking competition shows have already proven their popularity on Lifetime, and this show has both of those ingredients. It’s wholesome entertainment for the entire family in a region where people are passionate about their food. We’re launching our ‘more than #JustAKid’ campaign in celebration of children on Lifetime. Our aim is to showcase exceptional kids who prove that what young ones lack in experience, they make up for with creativity and enthusiasm. If given the chance, children will usually exceed expectations of grown-ups,” says Michele Schofield, senior vice president for Programming & Production, A+E Networks Asia.