MasterChef winner Dara Yu reveals pro tips for kitchen success – Eat This Not That
season 12 master Chef was already full. Not only did the competition reopen its doors to last season’s contestants, but the judges crowned their youngest ever winner: 20-year-old Dara Yu.
“As soon as Gordon [Ramsay] Said my name, I felt this pressure just like a release, and I blacked out, and it took me a second to process what had happened,” Yu, now 21, tells Eat This, Not That! In an exclusive interview. “But it was such an incredible experience, and [to] All my friends and family are there, it was really magical.”
In addition to winning $250,000, a state-of-the-art Viking kitchen and winning the MasterChef title, Yu also made history as the only competitor to compete. MasterChef Junior Before returning and winning-MasterChef: Back to Win. California-based competitor First. came in second place in the first season of MasterChef Junior When she was only 12 years old.
“This time around, I think there was more at stake,” she says. “I’ve worked hard for eight years at this craft, and I had a lot to live for.”
From cooking with mystery box ingredients to recreating Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish and handling Wolfgang Puck’s Los Angeles-based restaurant Spago, Yu faced a variety of challenges that tested his culinary skills. But outside of cooking, the newly minted winner, who is also a culinary instructor at a recreational cooking school, has a passion for teaching and inspiring other young cooks.
Read on to discover Yu’s tips for success in the kitchen, and for more, check out These Cooking Tips Top Chef Richard Blass Swears By.
In the Season 12 finale, three contestants were tasked with creating a three-course meal consisting of an appetizer, entree, and a dessert—and each course had an hour to cook. When it came time to create the concept, Yu opted to create dishes from his childhood, including the French techniques he learned in culinary school.
Her appetizers, which included crispy red skin snapper and grilled asparagus, featured Japanese flavors, initially inspired by a trip to Japan she took before her father passed away. After the first course, her entrée consisted of Chinese-style short ribs, whipped Japanese sweet potatoes, pickled carrots, caramelized onions, and a carrot-topped gremolata—an elevated take on a meal you made for your birthday dinner as a kid. will request.
And for the final course, Yu recreates her childhood birthday treat—a pavlova (meringue-based dessert)—by offering a Vanilla Ile Flotante (Floating Island), which includes passionfruit crme anglaise (custard sauce) with tropical fruit. ) included meringue domes. and caramelized barred rice.
“I plated everything in round plates and in a round formation,” Yu says. “It was a full-circle moment for me to be back in master Chef Finale, and so I played a little bit on that as well.”
In terms of helping others cook their own food, Yu highlights the value of noticing where you bring your ingredients from.
“The quality of your final dish will be as good as the quality of your ingredients, and so I’m a big advocate for shopping at farmers’ markets and buying local,” she says.
She also points out that meeting farmers and learning about produce in season helps make cooking more fun and inspiring.
Of the countless cooking tools and gadgets, Yu recommends opting for the classic: the cast iron skillet.
“I cook basically 90% cast iron—even bake in it,” she says.
Additionally, Yu encourages people to not only get tried-and-tested cookware but also learn how to care for it.
While the cleaning method is a subject of much debate, the general consensus seems to be to hand-wash the skillet with hot water, dry it immediately, apply a thin layer of oil to the surface, and then wipe it down.
Yu’s final tip is a simple but highly important one: Stay organized in the kitchen. for master Chef Winner, it calls for all your “mise en place,” a French word for having all the ingredients “in place,” which means ready and ready to go before cooking.
“It’s also really important to clean up when you go,” Yu says. “I think there’s definitely a hack to being efficient in the kitchen.”