KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — An Astro spokesman denied today it was responsible for cooking up the MasterChef Malaysia profile of TV chef Mohd Nadzri Redzuawan, better known as Chef Riz, on its website.
However, the broadcaster changed the website profile early this morning, shortly after The Malaysian Insider reported the news.
“I don’t think Astro should be held responsible,” a senior official from the company told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.
The representative said all details on the profile page were given by Chef Riz and added that Astro will make a formal statement on the matter later today.
An amended profile was posted about 9am today on the Astro Ria MasterChef Malaysia website.
It now describes Chef Riz as a “trainee under the guidance of the Chef de Cuisine at the famed Italian restaurant (Babbo) in New York, owned by celebrity Chef Mario Batali, and was a trainee under the guidance of the Sous Chef at Le Bernadin, New York, a three-star Michelin restaurant owned by Eric Rupert [sic]”.
Chef Riz, who at 29 is the youngest of five judges on the cooking show, was initially portrayed to have worked in senior positions at two famous restaurants in the US, but checks with both have revealed otherwise.
The son of local celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, claimed he worked as “chef de cuisine” — also called a head chef — at the world famous Mario Batali’s flagship Italian restaurant Babbo in New York when he was only 22.
His previous profile also said he was “sous-chef” at Le Bernardin under chef Eric Ripert — of the Asian Food Channel’s “Avec Eric” fame — before returning home to star in several TV programmes.
A sous-chef is the second in command of the kitchen and directly assists the head chef.
Batali is an American chef who is as famous for his signature shorts and orange Crocs as his string of restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Singapore and has starred in the “Iron Chef America” TV series.
Both restaurants have refuted Chef Riz’s claims of having worked with them.
But Chef Riz insisted he had worked at the two outlets as stated in his initial website profile when contacted yesterday.
“I was there [at Babbo] for a year, from January 2005 to December 2005,” he said yesterday.
He added: “I took a break, a short holiday before joining Le Bernardin for two years. I was there from March 2006 to July 2008.”
In the phone interview, Chef Riz said he decided to return home despite working at two of the world’s best restaurants “to make Malaysian food healthier.”
“I foresee a lot of opportunities here for the restaurant scene and even TV programmes,” he said, adding: “I want to share my experience as an overweight person.”
MasterChef Malaysia is a cooking show under the MasterChef franchise that is also present in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Greece, India, Sweden, Indonesia and the UK.
The show’s first season on Astro Ria began its run on October 22. Shooting for the series is scheduled to continue till yearend.