MasterChef NZ: Sam Low on what’s next, his favorite dish and the famous face who congratulated his big win

On Sunday evening, viewers watched eagerly as Low battled fellow runner-up Elliot McClymont, 27, for the culinary crown. To determine the winner, the two were tasked with pitching their dream restaurant to the judging panel before creating three signature dishes that they would feature on their respective menus, with each of the three rounds being scored by judges Nadia Lim, Vaughan Mabee and Michael P Food shortage.

For Low, his signature dishes encompassed the flavors of contemporary Chinese cuisine, featuring pāua congee for starter; steamed blue cod served with braised daikon, ginger spring onion relish, soymilk emulsion, charred spring onion oil and rice as a main course; and ocean-inspired kombu seaweed ice cream for dessert. The 30-year-old has cultivated a reputation throughout the competition for bringing his unique twist to traditional Chinese cuisine, with his final dish – kombu ice cream, flavored with nori meringue, matcha steamed cake , cocoa nibs, pickled fruit, jasmine tea and sesame leaf granita – earning a perfect score and rave reviews from the judges.

Reflecting on his favorite dishes throughout the competition, Low fondly recalled Chinese rice porridge, or congee – a “humble and simple” dish that paid homage to his heritage, while representing his future. For the starter, Low paired the salty rice porridge with pan-fried paua, paua sauce, mashed century-old eggs and dill.

“I did it in a unique way – I wouldn’t say the word high, but I made it more me and more interesting, for my lived experience,” he said.

“I think it was really special, with [Nadia] Lim being half Chinese, she tastes it and talks about her memory with congee. To be able to share it on mainstream TV was amazing.”