FMasterChef 2009 alumna Poh Ling Yeow is a jack of all trades. Artist, author, cook, entrepreneur and TV show host, Poh has been keeping herself busy since the first season of MasterChef.
“I have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies,” she says. “It’s really wonderful to be able to tap into every facet of interest that I’ve had."
In your average week Poh will be working on her new SBS show Poh & Co, writing her follow-up cookbook to last year’s Same Same but Different, overseeing her pop-up food stall and fledgling business Jamface, and painting her artwork or presenting it at exhibitions.
This week, however, Poh returns to the MasterChef kitchen to set our new contestants a Mystery Box challenge. She’s excited about coming back, and is a little envious of the newcomers.
“I’d probably prefer to be on the contestants’ side still!” Poh confesses. “It’s electric; it’s such an amazing feeling. People get paid out all the time for being so emotional, but it is such an intense experience and you really feel that your future is in the hands of the next challenge.”
MasterChef certainly influenced her future after the first season. “Never in my life did I think that I would get so much out of it, it’s given me everything,” she says gratefully. “It did everything I hoped it would do for a potential career in food, and more.”
Thrilled by the reception of Poh & Co, she credits its reality leanings as being a better fit for her than the more traditional format of ABC’s Poh’s Kitchen. “I really wanted to make this into a recipe-focused show, so all these little snippets of my life are there to hold the recipes together in the show,” Poh explains. “It’s a lot more recipes that we did in Poh’s Kitchen.”
Last year Poh released her cookbook Same Same but Different, and has another in the works. “I really like my books to really reflect me, they’re themed around how I like to cook that year,” she says. “I want them to be an everyday pick up, where you can find something that you feel like you want to attempt and eat every day, not just on special occasions.”
Her pop-up stall Jamface in Adelaide’s Farmers Market and in the Market Shed on Holland is Poh’s way of sating her “true love” of baking. “I wanted to experience what it was like to run a food business and I thought the market stall was a nice way to dip my toe into it.”
Poh’s final words of wisdom for the new contestants hoping to follow in her culinary footsteps? “Just be brave, work hard and really follow the love that you profess to have and it will take you there.”
Check out this year’s batch of contestants here