The Importance of the Immigrant Stories Told On MasterChef Australia


The 2020 season of MasterChef Australia has been one to watch. Even though fans had their reservations after former judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Colombaris left the franchise, the series has continued to impress.

Not only did the show find a winner by bringing back past (favourite) contestants, the new and diverse judges — Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo — have hit a sweet spot and delivered a fresh burst of energy to the show.

On the whole, MasterChef Australia: Back to Win is a recipe for success — at its core, it’s a heartfelt and heartwarming series — especially highlighted in an episode that aired on May 27.

The episode was not only an emotional one for the contestants, but social media users around the country were just as moved.

The challenge involved the contestants receiving a photo from their childhood and then having to create a dish that reminded them of their loved ones.

But it was Kahn Ong, Reynold Poernomo, and Poh Ling Yeow, whose stories described a multi-cultural Australia and the often tumultuous beginnings that immigrants to our country face.

Ong was given a photo of himself as a two-year-old. What looks like a normal family photo, meant so much more to the fan-favourite, because it was taken on the day that his family arrived as refugees from Indonesia to Australia.

“I was born in a refugee camp. And that’s after we’ve got approved to migrate. I don’t remember much, but it kind of was like a massive change in our lifestyle and where we are now,” he said.

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Family ❤️

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Ling Yeow, another firm fan-favourite, made a bowl of noodles covering distinct Malaysian flavours. She told the story of her father, Steve, a musician, who instilled in her to have belief in herself.

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

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So happy @brendan_pang and I both got thru on our DanDan noodles from last night’s Family Photo Mystery Box ?. Mine is a vegetarian version with chilli oil & spiced Szechuan sesame sauce | vegetable bundles – Choy sum, snopeas, enoki mushrooms, fennel | underneath the noodles lie secret ? marinated shiitake mushrooms, coriander, spring onion because I love things that look unassuming but then surprise you with substance. For the doubters that Vegan cooking can be tasty as heck, I’m challenging u with this dish. Recipe on #tenplay ? Thanks for the inspo, Dad! Wow, what an emotional day it was and a solid testament to how we cook when we are inspired by love, family and tradition @masterchefau #masterchef #masterchefau

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Judge Melissa Leong, a proud Singaporean-Chinese Aussie, also spoke about her experience as a daughter of immigrants.

“You know, growing up in Australia as the child of migrant parents as well, there was always a sentiment in the Chinese community about sort of, ‘Always let them underestimate you… and then exceed their expectations’,” she told Poh.

Poernomo’s photograph showed him as a little boy sitting in between cardboard boxes. He told the story about how he was often left alone because his parents had to work hard at their restaurant to make a living.

“I remember immigration getting my parents taken away for a little bit. The restaurant closed down, of course. My brother was getting food for me when I was hungry,” he said.

The episode was as moving and poignant and is a very real and important look at the faces who make up Australia, and the perfect example of why we have such rich, diverse, and delicious cuisine in this country.

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