Asian Australian Foodies

Masterchef AU contestant impresses judges by serving an ‘unapologetic’ Vietnamese dish

On July 26, 2023, season 14 contestant of Masterchef Australia Tommy Pham posted a clip from an episode he was in where he amazed judged with a traditional Vietnamese dish called Bún mắm – which has a complex flavour and a very strong aroma. Bún mắm is basically a dish which has a soup base of fermented fish or shrimp base and served with vermicelli noodles.

For most Asians it is not even considered as a dish pungent aroma dish as many SE Asian cuisines use fermented fish and shrimp paste as part of their cooking. But for those who are non Asian and/or not used to the taste, flavour and aroma of these ingredients. The clip posted by Pham is quite the emotional ride, as when he serves the dish to judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and the late Jock Zonfrillo, there is silence before Leong walks over to him and gives Pham a hug, whilst the other contestants give Pham a round of applause. This is what Leong said about the dish:

“You can smell this dish coming at you, this is testament to the fact that when you don’t hold back in who you are, you will be celebrated.”

What an awesome way to showcase culture and a dish which truly represents that culture. For those who are unaware, the taste of fish via fish sauce and shrimp paste are common ingredients in Vietnamese cooking, and it’s so great to see Pham share this on national TV. In his video description, he showed this love and gratitude for his Vietnamese cultural background by writing:

“Cooking this dish on Masterchef meant so much to me, it broke down barriers, it made me feel so proud to be Vietnamese and it gave little Tommy the validation that he should be proud of his heritage is no matter what.”

Since being posted on July 26, the video has around 30,000 likes and been viewed almost half a million times.

Images via Instagram (

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