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MasterChef’s Brendan Pang on multicultural food and the recipe to dumpling perfection

Dubbed the ‘dumpling king’ during his time in Masterchef Australia, Perth-based cook and restaurant-owner Brendan Pang deals in bold flavours. Drawing inspiration from his Chinese-Mauritian heritage, his first visit to India involved a medley of punchy, flavourful creations featuring grilled octopus, crispy barramundi, and umami-packed mushrooms. In an exclusive chat with Lifestyle Asia India, the creative culinarian dug into delicious details about his cooking style, travel favourites, and the secret to making the best gyozas.

In the kitchens of the elegant pan-Asian restaurant Zen at the Leela Palace Bengaluru, 28-year-old Brendan Pang put together a delicious dinner of Chinese-Mauritian creations, spread across seven courses. “It’s all the food that I grew up eating,” he revealed, noting that he’d brought a touch of refinement to the mix for the evening’s discerning guests. “But at the core of it all, it’s tasty,” he added. The pop up underlined his first culinary visit to India and gave him an insight into its diverse dining scene. Reflecting on this, he stated, “There’s so much food and it’s so varied across different regions and families. My understanding of it is not much really but I’m excited to learn. I grew up eating fritters, dal, and flatbreads but not to the extent I’ve had here. Like I had dosa yesterday and it was awesome.”

His itinerary primarily featured local delicacies – vada pav, appam, the works – and the ‘dumpling king’ resolved to cross street-style momos off his list as well. This smorgasbord of flavours that the country is known for is reflective of his own cooking style – simple, fun, and informed by his multicultural upbringing. The talented culinarian – who runs the airstream kitchen ‘Bumplings’ in Australia and has authored cookbooks – is passionate about sharing his love for all things culinary with the world. And his social media posts, cooking collaborations, and interactions with fans are reflective of this. We sat down to talk to him about his take on food.

In conversation with Masterchef’s ‘dumpling king’ Brendan Pang

Masterchef's Brendan Pang dumpling recipe

How has your multicultural upbringing influenced your outlook on food?

My family is Chinese-Mauritian, and my grandmother, I call her my ‘grand-mere,’ greatly influenced how I cook today. My excitement for cooking started with her. Growing up, she taught us basic dishes like dumplings and noodles. As I grew up, I became quite interested in Yum-Cha and Dim-Sum. However, my family didn’t know how to make them, so I experimented and taught myself to make all these dishes. This is what I value most about food: the connection to my family and what I grew up eating and cooking. I want to share that with the rest of the world. So, when I put on a dinner or work with chefs around the world, it’s about having that connection but also sharing my style of food with them. I want to ensure they understand, appreciate, and enjoy the experience.


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A post shared by BRENDAN PANG (@brendan_pang)

What’s been your biggest takeaway from the Indian culinary scene so far?

Just the force of the kitchen – how many people work in one kitchen. Where I’m from, it’s very reliant on fewer staff. So coming into a big kitchen with so many people to run different sections was overwhelming for me at first. But it’s nice to have a big team with people supporting each other. Other than that I think everyone here is keen to try different things and different cuisines. Chinese-Mauritian food fits in quite nicely because everyone likes big bold flavours and the kind of spices that I bring to the table.

Around the world, what are your favourite countries to travel to for good food?

I love travelling to and eating in Singapore. I think it’s very similar to coming here (India) because it’s got such a mix of cultures. But I also quite like Chinese food. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Taiwan recently and I love the food there.


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A post shared by BRENDAN PANG (@brendan_pang)

You were crowned the ‘dumpling king’ on Masterchef Australia. What’s your secret to the perfect dumpling?

Haha! There are so many little tips here but I think it’s the right ratio of filling to pastry. Dumplings shouldn’t be underfilled and you should try using meat that is a bit fattier so it’s juicy and flavourful. Besides that, keeping it simple, not going over the top is important. And it’s all in the condiments and sauces as well.

Recipe: Brendan Pang’s Prawn Wontons

Dumpling recipe



20 wonton wrappers, 300 g prawn meat (half mousse, half chopped), substitute with sweet potatoes for a vegetarian rendition, 20 g ginger (grated), 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp light soy sauce, ½ tbsp Shaoxing wine, 1 tsp sesame oil, pinch of ground white pepper, ½ tsp cornstarch

Sichuan Chilli Oil

250 ml vegetable oil, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 star anise, whole, 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, ¼ cup crushed chilli flakes, pinch of salt

Black Vinegar and Tamari Dressing

250 ml vegetable oil, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 star anise, whole, 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, ¼ cup crushed chilli flakes, pinch of salt


  1. Make the black vinegar and tamari by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and set aside refrigerated until required.
  2. Place oil, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and bay leaves in a small saucepan over low heat and cook for about 25 minutes to infuse (be careful not to burn your spices here). Whilst infusing, place chilli flakes and salt into a medium heatproof bowl.
  3. Once oil is fragrant, increase heat to high and cook for a further minute. Carefully strain the oil through a fine sieve into the bowl with the chilli flakes and stir well. Set aside.
  4. Place all filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix vigorously in one direction until the mixture binds. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place a teaspoon of filling in the centre. Brush half of the edges of the square with water.
  6. Fold the wet edges over (in half) to make a rectangular shape and enclose the filling. Brush one of the corners with water and fold inward to overlap with the other corner. Press to seal.
  7. Cook wontons in boiling water until cooked through, about 4 – 6 minutes. Remove from water using a slotted spoon.

Serve your wontons in bowls topped with black vinegar and soy dressing and Sichuan chilli oil.

Bon appetit!

All images: Courtesy Leela Palace Bengaluru/Brendan Pang

MasterChef’s Brendan Pang on multicultural food and the recipe to dumpling perfection

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days zeroing in on the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.

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