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MasterChef Australia's Poh Ling Yeow: 'I Dreamt Of Being Blonde And Blue Eyed'

The Malaysian Chinese chef opened up about her struggles growing up in Australia as a "migrant kid".
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' contestant Poh Ling Yeow 
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' contestant Poh Ling Yeow 

‘MasterChef Australia’ contestant Poh Ling Yeow has opened up about her struggling growing up as a “migrant kid” after moving to Australia from Malaysia at age nine.

In an Instagram post shared ahead of Thursday night’s episode – which features five Asian Australian contestants competing in the immunity challenge – Poh said she had very few people to look up to in her formative years, but now she can be the role model she didn’t have back then.

“THE TIME IS NOW. Growing up as a migrant kid I had so few role models,” she wrote.

“I dreamt of being blonde and blue eyed, fantasised about having long legs and was ashamed of the shape of my nose and my face.

“But today we get to be this for anyone who’s ever felt on the outer. Thank you @masterchefau . Immunity cook, here we come TONIGHT 7.30pm.”

Attached was an image of herself, alongside co-stars Jess Liemantara, Khanh Ong, Brendan Pang and Reynold Poernomo who will all be competing in the fairytales and fables-themed immunity challenge.

After first appearing on ‘MasterChef’ back in 2009, Poh has always shown how proud she is of her Malaysian Chinese heritage through her cooking.

During Wednesday night’s episode, Poh cooked Dan Dan noodles with chilli oil & spiced Szechuan sesame sauce and vegetables. The dish was inspired by her father and her childhood.

“Growing up, I kind of felt a little bit invisible as a migrant kid, and always kind of dreamt that I would make something of myself,” she told the judges.

“And so everything is kind of hidden under that, under those noodles, and... you’ll see what it tastes like.”

While she learnt to bake when she was quite young, Poh’s interest in Malaysian cuisine developed in her adult life, and when she started learning, she had her mum and great aunt, Kim’s feedback.

“They’d say no, no you didn’t put enough turmeric in that or not enough galangal,” she told Business Insider in 2014.

The knowledge has been passed down by generations.

In a blog post published on Fooding With The Yeows (run by Poh’s brother Casper) in 2016, Poh’s mum opened up about learning how to cook many Malaysian specialties from her mother-in-law after marrying husband Steve in 1969.

“My mother-in-law was Nonya. Nonya were descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays,” wrote Christina.

They were renown for their amazing cooking, typically spicy, made using a combination of Malay and Chinese ingredients and techniques.”

Last week Poh and co-star Jess Liemantara were asked to create their ultimate ‘comfort food’ dishes after impressing the judges in the instant noodles challenge.

Poh chose to make Nasi Lemak with Otak Otak, which she said was “totally my childhood on a plate”.

‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.

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