Reality TV

Poh Ling Yeow talks cooking, culture and how a clairvoyant predicted her future

"It feels full circle!"
Loading the player...

Poh Ling Yeow could “never in a million years” have predicted what her life would be like now when she first hit our screens on the inaugural season of MasterChef Australia in 2009. But one person did. “I’ve never told this story, but before I went to Sydney [for MasterChef] I was really broken-hearted because I split up with this donger that I was going out with, and I did this weird thing and went to a clairvoyant,” Poh tells WHO with a laugh.

“And she said nothing of the guy! I said, ‘Is he going to be in my future?’ and she said, ‘No, but you’re going to go to Sydney and you’re going to do something that’s going to make you famous.’” 

Watch Below: Poh Ling Yeow returns to MasterChef in 2020 as a contestant

Lo and behold, here she is almost 15 years later with yet another show under her belt. Here, the 49-year-old tells WHO about working with pal Adam Liaw again and her quintessential Aussie meal…

Adam & Poh's Great Australian Bites
“It’s all about nostalgia,” Poh says of her and Adam’s new show. “A country bakery has been around forever and Australian Chinese tells us times of gold rush and it’s really linked to our history and migration … it’s food that tells a story.” (Credit: Supplied)

What are you and Adam getting up to on Adam & Poh’s Great Australian Bites?  

It’s Adam and I road-tripping all across Australia, trying to discover if Australia has a national dish. So it’s really relatable because it’s not really about fancy food at all. We went to Ballarat to eat old-school Chinese Australian food, we go and look at the quintessential country bakery. You know, that kind of thing. It’s really fun. 

You’ve worked with Adam before. How was it jumping into another show with him? 

It was really different this time around. The first time was during COVID, so it was very fractured. There were lots of border issues that it was very, like, nerve-racking, we didn’t even know if the show was gonna get made. But this time round, Adam and I were like in a car for many hours every day. It was a proper road trip – it wasn’t pretend! 

Adam & Poh's Great Australian Bites
The TV star continues to live in Adelaide and keeps herself busy. “I always joke about it being the loins that birthed me into the food world,” Poh says of MasterChef. (Credit: Supplied)

Are you guys compatible travel buddies?  

Yeah, definitely. That’s one thing that I found really funny about Adam … I think whenever he presents food, he’s super succinct with the way he cooks and always so stylish with his cooking style. And I found out that he’s not a food snob at all – we ate everything! I saw a different side of Adam, for sure. 

Is there a dish that defines Australian cuisine for you? 

This could be controversial to bring up, because we didn’t cover it on the show … but it’s the pav, the pavlova. As a baker, that is like, my ultimate. I love the pavlova. But I also do love a bit of Aussie Chinese. 

Adam & Poh's Great Australian Bites
“For me, food is always about community,” admits Poh. (Credit: Instagram)

Could you have ever imagined what your career would be like now? 

As a kid, I always had this funny feeling that cool things would happen to me. I always talk about this, but I really did. But I just didn’t know what form that would take. [But] I never in a million years dared to think that this would happen. And my plan for after [MasterChef] was to come back and make jams for a local grocer, that was literally my plan. Then, like, within a week of me coming home, I got offered the ABC contract to have my own show. 

Did it feel kind of full circle to go back on MasterChef as a guest judge this year? 

Yeah, it does. I’ve always felt really uncomfortable to be completely honest, because when I get in that space my adrenaline is always on the contestant’s side. But this time round, I really felt like I could own it and maybe it’s because I had my stint on Snackmasters and being front-of-room so I feel a bit more comfortable in that position.

Adam & Poh’s Great Australian Bites airs Tuesdays at 8pm on SBS Food and SBS On Demand

Related stories