Melissa Ong is probably one of the most calm and collected competitors I’ve seen. Even during her practices, the chefs have told me that she always seemed like she wasn’t moving fast enough and yet she would always finish with time to spare.
She was coached by Chef Miah Go, who was truly a bundle of nerves when she was competing. He kept on fidgeting and talking (even to himself sometimes) as he was watching her compete.
When competitors practice, the environment is controlled. They get used to this setting that the hardest thing for them to go thru is to have even just one thing go wrong. Keeping your focus and learning to deal with this change is a true test of character.
When she was nearing the end of her heat, Melissa had the surprise of her life. Some of the foie filling came out of her Chicken Ballotine. When she saw this, she took a deep breath and didn’t freeze. She tried to asses the extent of the damage when she began slicing her dish. When she saw that she had good serving portions still intact, she used these ones to plate up her dishes. She carefully plated all her components and she even took a step back a few minutes before time and looked at her dishes. When she saw the 2 dishes she wanted to give to the judges, she moved the best cooked and cut chicken to her 2 chosen plates. She was in control of her emotions and was clear and level headed the whole time. Bravo!