MasterChef Vietnam to air next March

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  Vietnamese Australian chef Luke Nguyen at the launch of "˜MasterChef Vietnam' in Ho Chi Minh City on October 2. Photo: An Nguyen

Local cooks have begun applying to become contestants on a version of the American reality cooking series MasterChef that is being adapted in Vietnam.

The show, called "MasterChef Vietnam," is based on the original American culinary series featuring amateur cooks competing in different cooking challenges. The winner will be awarded VND500 million (some US$25,000) in cash and an opportunity to publish a book about cooking.

At a launch ceremony held on October 2, the organizers from BHD Company, Vietnam Television and Unilever announced that Luke Nguyen and Hoang Khai had signed on as judges and that one more Vietnamese chef would be chosen soon.

Luke Nguyen, born in 1978, is an acclaimed Vietnamese Australian chef who owns the famous Red Lantern chain of restaurants in Sydney. He is also the author of famous cookery books like "My Vietnam: Stories and Recipes," and "Secrets of the Red Lantern."

He is better known in Vietnam for his food documentary series "Luke Nguyen's Vietnam," first aired on SBS One in 2010. The series documenting his food tour of Vietnam and his experiences with local street vendors and cooks from across the country. He appeared on MasterChef Australia's season 2 as a guest chef.

Hoang Khai is the chairman and CEO Khaisilk Corporation, who shot to fame with his luxurious restaurants like Cham Charm, Au Manoir Khai, Nam Phan and Ming Dynasty.

MasterChef Vietnam will be aired on VTV3 channel every Friday night beginning March 8 next year. The auditions, taking place in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, have been open for contestants nationwide since October 2. The show will have 20 episodes.

MasterChef originated in the UK in 1990. The format was revived by Executive Producers Franc Roddam and John Silver and Series Producer Karen Ross who updated the original format for the BBC in 2005.

The show, most famous in its American and Australian adaptations, is now produced in more than 35 countries.

In the latest MasterChef America (season 3,) Christine Ha, a Vietnamese American from Houston, Texas, and the show's first ever blind contestant, won the contest.

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