Poh Ling Yeow was born in Malaysia in 1973, spending the first nine years of her life in Kuala Lumpur. Her family then migrated to South Australia where she now lives and works. After completing a Bachelor of Design specialising in illustration at the University of South Australia, Poh freelanced as a graphic designer and illustrator and then began painting full-time in 2002. Now, with over 20 highly successful exhibitions under her belt, nine have been solos, her client list boasts major corporate collectors.
Just as Poh's art explores notions of belonging and origin, so do her intentions with food. As a fifth-generation Chinese Malaysian, Poh's interest in cooking began as an attempt at reconciling this heritage with her Western identity.
“Desperately wanting to assimilate as a child migrant, I shed everything that made me feel different in my new country. In my 30s I suddenly realised that food is the vehicle that can help me keep in touch with my past, the history of my ancestors. It is a way I can still bond with the generations before me, even with the loss of traditional values and language”.
In the last two years, Poh has found her interest in food intensifying to a point where she could no longer deny she wanted to pursue it as a career and when a friend suggested she entered MasterChef, she saw a rare window of opportunity. Always thinking outside the square with her artistic sensibilities and paying homage to the traditional cooking she grew up with, Poh secured herself a position in the finale, coming runner-up.
It was during the final weeks of MasterChef on air that the ABC approached and secured Poh to present a new cooking show, now known as POH’S KITCHEN. Around the same time Poh’s other dream also came true with her signing a deal with ABC Books at HarperCollins to publish two cookbooks.