Pang dishes up second cookbook, and new recipes with a bang
30/03/2022. By Carmelle Wilkinson.
Cook, author, business owner and dumpling king – Brendan Pang is on one impressive culinary journey.
Former Masterchef contestant and Perth “Dumpling King” Brendan Pang (BA Social Work, 2016) always knew he wanted to work with people.
After graduating from Curtin University, he landed a dream job in Broome in the field of child protection.
Throwing himself into the Broome lifestyle, Brendan enjoyed working with local kids and even taught boxing at the local youth club.
But it wasn’t long before he switched the boxing gloves for oven mittens and was accepted into the 2018 season of Masterchef Australia.
Finishing in the top 10, Brendan wowed the judges and viewers with his drool-worthy dumplings and dipping sauces.
“Social work will always be a part of me. I’ve always been passionate about working with people and I guess I’m still doing that. Just in a different way,’’ he said.
Nowadays Brendan is setting tastebuds on fire with his dangerously delicious dumplings and lip-smacking noodles.
With a second cookbook in the works and more pop-up cooking classes on the way, the 29-year-old is winning over Perth foodies one tasty morsel at a time.
Born into a large Chinese-Mauritian family, the former social worker turned food personality was lucky to experience a smorgasbord of food influences including Indian, Creole, French and Chinese.
“Mauritian food culture is so rich and diverse. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by a lot of tasty food,’’ he said.
“I remember on school holidays spending time in the kitchen with my grandmother making noodles and wontons from scratch and baking with my Mum.”
Brendan’s interest in food was sparked at a young age, cooking alongside his Grandma and Mum in the kitchen.
Brendan’s Fremantle based airstream kitchen – Bumplings at The Sunshine Harvester Works – is his brainchild, a nod to his heritage and a full-time creative outlet for his obsession with dumplings.
Packed with flavour and charged with inspiration, it’s not hard to see why these finger-licking bites are so popular.
Brendan’s food is made from the heart and packed with flavour.
“I enjoy cooking from the heart with no frills or thrills. Just simple, tasty food that people can enjoy with their family and friends,’’ he said.
“For me, I find making dumplings therapeutic. They are versatile and delicious but also extend to other cultures and cuisines – such as Japanese gyozas and Italian ravioli and tortellini.”
Bumplings Perth is a must visit at the Sunshine Harvester Works in Fremantle.
Since his big break on Masterchef Australia, Brendan has been on one impressive culinary journey.
“A friend of mine who worked at a bakery at the time called me and encouraged me to apply. I had thought about it in the past, but after he mentioned it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I decided to just go for it,’’ he said.
Nothing warms the soul more than a hot steaming bowl of Brendan’s Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup.
“It coincided with Mum opening her own cake business and my uncle leaving his engineering career to open a café, so the timing just felt right.
“I always wanted to work for myself and pursue something I really loved, and I am so grateful I did, because Masterchef was the experience I needed to kick-start my career in food.”
His first cookbook “This Book is about Dumplings” was so well received he decided to write another.
Brendan’s first cookbook “This Book About Dumplings” was well received by dumpling devotees.
“The next book will mainly feature noodles and noodle inspired dishes,’’ Brendan said.
“You don’t realise how much work goes into a cookbook, but it’s been a year long commitment and I’m looking forward to its release later this year.”
“I’m so grateful for Masterchef, it really was the turning point in my career and opened a lot of doors. A lot of people go on Masterchef and return to what they were doing before, but I wanted to keep the momentum going and ride on the success of the show to really make the most of the opportunity,’’ he said.
Brendan’s success in the Masterchef kitchen was the platform he needed to kick-start his culinary journey.
So how did this cool, calm and collected cook survive the heat of the Masterchef kitchen?
“Haha I’m lucky I cope with stress well, I have a pretty thick skin,’’ he said.
“If something stresses me out, I go back to basics and reflect on why I’m doing it in the first place and that’s usually enough to keep me going.
“While I like to push myself, I’m always mindful of staying true to myself in the process.
“In life there are going to be people who judge you, but it’s important not to take it too seriously. Don’t take it to heart.”
In an emotional Facebook post in 2019, Brendan took his own advice and publicly announced he was gay.
Brendan remembers the joy of sitting around the table when he was younger, eagerly awaiting his Mum’s delicious meals.
‘My name is Brendan Pang and I’m 26 years old… but, for as long as I can remember and up until the age of 24 I struggled with my sense of identity,’ he wrote.
‘As a gay male, I had feelings of being “different” very early on, and as I navigated the bumpy road into adulthood, I went through some pretty dark times from feeling pressured to change who I was, to experiencing high levels of social anxiety.
‘Thankfully, with the help of a strong and supportive network (my family and friends), I was able to not only survive the complexity of mental health, but thrive and become a stronger, happier, comfortable and proud ME.’
Being his true self is certainly paying off – with the fan favourite attracting nearly 1000 dumpling devotees to his pop-up cooking school in Mt Hawthorn last year.
Bumplings cooking classes are fun, interactive and sure to get your taste buds going.
“I was overwhelmed by the support for our pop-up Bumplings cooking school, and the exciting news is it’s not over yet,’’ he said.
“In May we are hoping to launch more pop-up classes in Bicton.”
Fresh, quality WA produce form the basis of Brendan’s dishes.
Brendan said the cooking classes and online delivery service were introduced during Covid as measures to diversify and extend his business.
Brendan’s rainbow dumplings a sight to behold.
“We’ve been lucky here in WA that Covid didn’t affect us too much these past two years, we managed to weather it quite well. But lockdowns and restrictions did encourage me to get creative.’’ Brendan said.
“When we first launched our delivery service, I was actually driving around Fremantle and surrounds delivering the food to customers which was really cool.”
Delivery anyone? During Covid, Brendan was personally dropping-off Bumplings orders.
When Brendan isn’t cooking up a storm in the kitchen he loves dining out with friends (Japanese is his go to) or enjoying Dim Sum at Canton Bay Restaurant in Northbridge with his Mum and Grandmere.
“I am proud of who I am, and I am humbled to have been able to show it on the plate and have it celebrated by the rest of Australia,’’ he said.
Looking ahead, Brendan hopes to open another Bumplings, write more delicious cookbooks and continue teaching people the art, enjoyment and therapeutic power of making dumplings.
If you’d like to find out more about Brendan’s upcoming cooking classes please visit his website here.