Dressed in cobalt blue aprons, the participants raided the mystery boxes before them. To their surprise (and amusement for some), each carton held the strangest ingredients: a Granny Smith apple, bacon, instant noodles, seaweed and a block of cheddar.
Despite the presence of stern-faced judges watching their every move, the amateur chefs went about "burning" bacon and dicing cherry tomatoes in their own inventive ways. The culinary journey, which began with exclusive invitations tagged with wooden spatulas, marked the birthday celebration of 12-year-old Maya Edlin, who wanted a cosy MasterChef-themed party for her closest friends.
Organised by party planning outfit Coochicoo, the intricate do, complete with cakes done up in cheese smorgasbord style, was held at The Cooking House in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
It cost Zahara Shahriman, 48, "a fortune" to host the bash for her daughter.
Just the year before, Maya had celebrated her 11th birthday à la Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in the company of magic and spell-seekers like herself.
The famed Platform 9¾ made an appearance at Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur just for the day, where 25 young guests were treated to cauldron-shapes cakes, mugs of Butterbeer paired with broomstick-shaped stirrers and an enchanting wand-making class.
Like many parents today, Zahara does not mind splashing thousands of ringgit to celebrate her youngest daughter's birthday.
"When my daughter decided she wanted a Harry Potter-themed party for her 11th birthday, we knew we wanted it to be as authentic and atmospheric as it could possibly be, as we both loved the books so much and had practically lived in its magical world for five years! We knew we wouldn't do justice to the theme if we just had those pre-printed plastic plates and balloons.
"Instead, we wanted to have a party that would transport Maya and her friends to Hogwarts and Harry Potter's magical world and that's how we got Coochicoo to come in," says the homemaker, who wasn't at all shocked at the sum incurred.
"The parties weren't cheap and you can't expect them to be with this level of attention to detail, quality and service. But I think it's worth it because you will have the memories of these celebrations for a lifetime. I felt stress-free and really happy on those two occasions because my daughter was so happy. I think Maya feels very, very lucky and grateful to have had these amazing parties. She also knows that we will only throw these parties if she's been a well-behaved, good and hard working girl throughout the year," Zahara adds.