Masterchef Asia finalist from S'pore trying to cope with newfound fame

He was a lawyer by day and bartender by night.

Now, Woo Wai Leong can add celebrity to his resume as well.

The MasterChef Asia finalist, who represents Singapore in the reality TV cooking show, gets recognised so much on the streets here that his newfound fame has sometimes interfered with his work and life in general.

Known as Leong in the hit Lifetime series, the 27-year-old quit his law job after the opportunity to join MasterChef Asia came up.

MasterChef Asia, since it first premiered three months ago, is a top show on the StarHub cable channel.

Woo, a Singaporean, is one of the two finalists - the other being Marcus Low (see report, right) - who will slug it out for honours in today's finale episode that will air at 9pm on Lifetime (StarHub Ch 514).

CELEB STATUS

He said he is taking his newly-minted celebrity status in stride.

He told The New Paper: "I was walking in the middle of the road one day and this dude stares at me as he walks by.

"Suddenly I felt him tap me on my shoulder and he asks to take a selfie with me right in the middle of the road.

"A lot of times, people just stare at me and it can get quite awkward."

When he was bartending at The Horse's Mouth recently, a group of students arrived for post-party drinks after their prom.

Cue the unabashed staring when they first saw Woo.

Mayhem erupted as they recognised who he was, with the female students' screams filling the bar.

Even on a recent trip to Hong Kong, he was recognised by Singaporean tourists.

Woo said he always obliges requests for selfies, but he's relieved that Singaporeans do not go over the top with fandom here.

"I'm getting used to dealing with it. If my family is with me, they simply have a good laugh about it.

"I have not let it change me or made me more mindful of my appearance when I step out of the house. I still wear shorts when I go for a walk along Orchard Road," said Woo, who lives in the neighbourhood.

The downside to being in the limelight?

Everyone will weigh in with their two cents' worth.

He admitted that what was tough about the entire MasterChef Asia experience was hearing people comment that it was "easy".

At times, people would tell him that what he presented on a plate, after an hour of cooking on an episode, did not meet their expectations.

Some even told him that they would have done better than him.

Said Woo, with a laugh: "To everyone who thinks that what we do is easy, go sign up for the show's second season (if there is one), then come tell me if it is really easy!"

cchar@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 10, 2015.
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