“Twitches is like my first wife. It has been with me all my life,” Mr Nareskanna (Mr Nares) said cheekily.
The 32-year-old MasterChef Singapore Season 3 participant told The UrbanWire at the final three cook-off that he suffers from twitching that sometimes affects his daily activities.
He first opened up about his anxiety-triggered condition in episode 3 of the televised cooking contest, which ended on July 3.
But despite his condition, Mr Nares went on to wow the audience, judges and his fellow contestants with his perseverance and emerged as the first runner up, losing only to 23-year-old dental student, Mr Johnathan Chew. The season finale was aired on 3 Jul 2022 on Channel 5.
Now, he “pays homage” to his condition with his food business “Twitch by Nareskanna”, which offers private dining services right in his own home.
Joining MasterChef on a Whim
For Mr Nares, joining MasterChef was not in his plan. It was only after a nudge from his colleague that he decided to sign up for the competition on the last day of the application window. He doubted his abilities and was unsure of being able to pull through the competition with his condition.
“I was like, I [shall] just give it a shot. They probably won’t call me back [but] then they called me back for the auditions,” he recalled.
MasterChef is well-known for its intense culinary challenges that puts immense pressure on the contestants. The pressure was greater for Mr Nares as he had to make sure that his twitches did not come between him and his desire to succeed in the competition.
“Usually under pressure you find a solution and find a way, [but] when you realise you have twitches you realise you don’t know what to do,” said Mr Nares.
Being part of the first elimination round in that season of MasterChef put an extra toll on him. As a result, his twitches clouded his thinking process.
“In the kitchen, one hour is never one hour. It feels like it is going faster. For a good 40 minutes I was jammed because things were going all wrong,” he said.
It was only in the last 15 minutes that he started preparing his dish.
Unexpectedly, the “Deconstructed Raspberry and Torch Ginger Flower Tart” that he presented to the judges was well received. That was the moment when Mr Nares started embracing his condition.
“That’s when I realised that the human mind is pretty interesting because when you have nowhere to lean to, that’s when your mind actually works wonders,” he said. “The last 15 minutes I managed to come up with something and the judges loved it, I was surprised.”
Mr Nares also explained how he decided to change his attitude towards his condition.
“I mean if it’s a part of you then it’s just a part of you right, you just got to embrace it and find another way to work around it,” he explained.
Turning Challenge Into Opportunity
“Twitch by Nareskanna” was established in Feb 2022, before MasterChef was aired. Prior to this, Mr Nares was selling cars full-time and he decided to take a break from his full-time job to pursue his passion in cooking.
“I actually designed my house in a way that it resembles a restaurant,” he mentioned.
“Twitch by Nareskanna” offers a unique private home dining experience. Mr Nares’s six-course menu is an inspiration from European and Asian flavours. He currently takes reservations of up to six people per session and charges $138 per guest.
Mr Nares explained how he uses his business as a platform to show off the skills he had taken away from MasterChef.
“I mean I have learnt so much from the competition and I was like let’s explore more,” he said. “Twitch was the platform for me to do that.”
When he started he would have four bookings a month. However, business picked up as more people recognised him as a contestant from MasterChef. By May 2022, he was fully booked and he now has six to eight bookings a month.
“The food that I cook – no one would have replicated outside,” he said. “It’s like a [unique] experience.”
For Mr Nares, making his business thrive is not the biggest concern.
“The whole point of Twitch is that it is okay if people don’t like the food,” he said. “It is for someone to experience something different.”
He also told The UrbanWire about a potential collaboration with fellow MasterChef contestant, Mr Ilya Nur Fadhly, later this year.
Winning Isn’t Everything
Although Mr Nares did not win the title of MasterChef Singapore, he regards the life lessons he got from the competition as his biggest win.
“I don’t want people to have the mindset that only winning can make you successful,” he said.
Mr Nares also hopes that his MasterChef journey would be an inspiration to others.
“I want to inspire people who have doubted themselves and people who have the same conditions [as me] or any [other] conditions,” he mentioned. “I want them to go for it.”
He also advises people not to let their insecurities get the better of them and to challenge themselves.
“To me you only have one life, you just got to live it,” he added. “You never know what you can come up with.”