MasterChef Jacky Tan: A Delicious Story of Culinary Innovation

Jacky Tan

From Marketing to MasterChef

Jacky Tan’s journey from a marketing consultant to a home chef is a tale that warms the heart and tickles the taste buds. His story, much like a well-seasoned dish, is one with unexpected twists, personal growth, and a ton of creativity – from finding his cooking style to being a participant on MasterChef SG Season 4 and then eventually deciding to make his culinary creations available on BlockChef. 

In April 2020, when the pandemic sent shockwaves around the world, Jacky’s marketing business was on a decline and he found himself with extra time on his hands. The self-proclaimed kitchen novice decided to venture into the sacred territory of his mother-in-law’s kitchen, with a stern warning not to burn it down. Keeping that in mind, Jacky started experimenting with recipes, aiming to recreate the flavours his family enjoyed when ordering takeout.

Little did he know that these cooking escapades would soon become his sanctuary during the pandemic. Cooking became his therapy, a means to cope with the stressful times, and a source of joy that he could share with others.

From Zero to Hero

Jacky went on a journey of self-education, diving into the intricacies of cooking, studying Michelin-starred chefs, and tirelessly experimenting with new recipes. It was a transformation that not only sated his love for food but also tapped into his marketing skills, leading to a fusion of his two passions – cooking and content creation.

In time, Jacky’s kitchen exploits began to garner attention. His Instagram account is now a feast for the eyes, showcasing his artistic flair with dishes like ‘The Crime Scene’ (Halloween inspired homemade fettuccine with Thai-style chilli pasta sauce, king prawns, stir fried chayote, and wind mushrooms) and ‘Thai Floating Market’ (boats made with dark chocolate floating on a bed of lime gel accompanied with coconut whipped cream and ginger lemongrass ice cream), each one an edible work of art. His creations transcend boundaries and defy convention, mirroring his evolution from a marketing consultant to a culinary artist.

Jacky’s path was not without its share of obstacles. A turning point for him was when he faced harsh criticism from someone who told him, “Jacky, you shouldn’t be cooking.” Those words stung, but they also lit a fire within him. Instead of letting the negativity deter him, he turned it into motivation to push himself further.

A defining moment for Jacky was a chance meeting with renowned chef Violet Oon, who recognized his talent and appreciated his dish ‘Lotus in Muddy Water’. Her endorsement gave him the confidence to continue down this path, proving that sometimes the harshest words can lead to the sweetest successes.

After the conclusion of MasterChef season 4, Jacky was approached by BlockChef to start his own store on the platform, which inspired him to think about selling his creations. After serious consideration, he made the decision to launch Cheeky Don – the name of both his business and his signature pork jowl bowl – exclusively on BlockChef.

Jacky Tan’s Signature Dish – The Cheeky Don

The Cheeky Don is a dish that encapsulates Jacky Tan’s transformation from novice cook to passionate home chef. Every element of this laborious creation was carefully crafted to complement each other, a showcase of his creativity and dedication.

The star of the Cheeky Don is, of course, the signature pork jowl which is a cut of pork from a pig’s cheek. Jacky doesn’t just cook it; he bestows upon it what he lovingly calls the “royal treatment.” – a five-step process that transforms this tough cut of meat into a tender and flavourful one. The pork cheek is marinated to perfection, then cured in the fridge for around 50 minutes, a crucial step that infuses it with extraordinary flavour. It is then pan-seared with Basque French butter, adding a rich, buttery depth to the taste. Finally, it’s blowtorched and smoked with applewood, a process that imparts a smoky, savoury essence that takes this dish to the next level.

But the Cheeky Don is not just about the pork. Every element on the plate is meticulously chosen and prepared to complement the star of the show. A zesty chimichurri sauce, crafted from lime juice, herbs and green chilli peppers, adds a spicy punch that dances harmoniously with the pork’s richness. The dish is further elevated with pickled Japanese vegetables, adding a delightful crunch and a burst of acidity.

The smoked mushrooms, bathed in the same applewood smoke as the pork, take on an incredible scallop-like texture and taste. It is tender, smoky, and provide a fantastic contrast of texture to the pork. And then there is the rice. It is not just any regular white rice; Jacky pairs his meat with bamboo rice, a blend of dashi, sushi rice, and bamboo. This unique rice provides a sturdy foundation for the dish, absorbing the flavours of the other components.

The ‘Cheeky Don’ is more than just a simple rice bowl. With each bite, you can taste the countless hours of experimentation, perfectionism, and unwavering commitment that Jacky has poured into his craft.

To order, visit Cheeky Don on BlockChef today.

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