POH LING YEOW  Part 1

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POH LING YEOW  Part 1

Reporter:Jo Phan  潘在恩/South Australai Chinese Weekly

It’s a Thursday Night, I sitting in the office going over my questions I have for my interview. I look at the clock and it’s 9:12pm. Only 3 more minutes until I can called Poh Ling Yeow. And I’ll admit I’m quite excited.

To be honest I actually was aware of Poh before she made her debut on television on the famous reality TV show, Masterchef, a television show where people compete against each other using their cooking skills. The first time I came across Poh was actually in an interview she had done for a local Adelaide magazine. She was being interviewed about her favourite restaurant in Chinatown. I recalled this interview distinctively because the restaurant and dish she chose was a personal favourite of my own as well and underneath her name was her occupation… an artist. However, these days there are so many other titles along with artist. Poh is also a well-known television chef, an author of a successful recipe cookbook, an actress and runner-up for Masterchef Season 1. From my point of view, this is just the beginning.

Growing up in Australia as an Asian-Australian there aren’t many Asian role models that you can look up to and admire. In regard to finding an Asian woman on television that one could admire and aspire to be, we were limited. I remember when watching Poh on Masterchef, her bubbly personality, creativity and determination were the three main traits, which stood out for me. And when speaking to her on the phone, she does not disappoint me.

Poh, when she auditioned for Masterchef had already established herself as an artist in the industry. However, she always had a passion for the food industry and wanted to write recipes and be a published author of recipe books. Poh passed the first round, but she did not attend the second round of auditions.  Not until the producers called her up asking her the reason why she was reluctant to attend and kept requesting her to attend the second audition. After talking to the producers over the phone she changed her mind, attended the auditions and succeeded into the third round.

“You have to understand because it was the first season, we didn’t really know much about the show. We didn’t know what the prizes were, we didn’t know much. We kind of just walked into the competition blindly. The concept of lock down seemed like an intimating concept but it was a friend of mine who suggested that I enter into the competition.”

One of Poh’s main concerns was the reality TV show aspect of this now successful franchise about what kind of light and how she would be portrayed to the audience watching at home. Also her concerns were what if the show tarnished her already established career as an artist. Even after all of these concerns she had about her career and her portrayal on television, the shows gruelling challenges, she took whatever was thrown her way one day at a time and focussed on the task at hand. She reached the final 2 but was defeated by Julie Goodwin, who is the winner of Masterchef Season 1 but that moment should not be consider as a moment of disappointment because the opportunities after the success of Masterchef opened multiple doors to Poh.

“To be honest I never thought I’d get that far in the competition, I just took it one day at a time and focused on the task at hand. I remember the experience but I was severely sleep deprived.”

參訪的這一天是星期四晚上,我坐在辦公室裡重新回顧即將採訪Poh的每一個問題。抬頭看看鐘,晚上9:12。距離我打通Poh的電話、進行電話採訪僅剩下3分鐘了。

當時的我真的非常興奮。

說句實話,在Poh第一次參加著名的電視節目“MasterChef”——參加這個電視節目的人們聚集在一起相互競爭廚藝——之前,我已經對她有所了解。第一次知道Poh,是通過一份阿德萊德本地雜誌對她的一次訪談。雜誌記者問及她最喜歡唐人街的哪一家餐館。我之所以至今都清楚地記得訪談的內容,是因為Poh最喜歡的餐館和最鍾意的菜式恰恰也是我最喜愛的,而且在Poh的名字下面印著一個簡單的詞表明她的職業—藝術家。如今,她的名字後面已經跟隨了一連串的頭銜……著名電視名廚、成功烹調書籍作者、演員、“MasterChef第一季排名第​​二的參賽選手”。在我看來,這些輝煌的頭銜對於Poh來說僅僅是成功的開始。

作為在澳洲成長的擁有亞澳背景的人,Poh同樣也認為在澳洲並沒有許多可以讓你仰慕和崇拜的亞洲榜樣人物。如果要在電視節目上尋找到一名可以讓自己能夠崇拜和期望成為的亞洲女性似乎就更加困難。我仍然記得Poh參加“MasterChef”的情景,她快樂的個性、獨特的創造力和堅定的信念成為吸引我的主要因素。當我通過電話採訪Poh的時候,所有的這些我從電視上獲得的有關她的印象又通過電話再次觸動了我的內心。

在採訪中,Poh坦言,在參加“MasterChef”試鏡前她已經逐漸以藝術家的身份在業內嶄露頭角。之所以選擇參加電視試鏡,是憑著自己對飲食行業的熱情,Poh笑著說其實自己一直就想編撰食譜,希望有朝一日可以成為正式出版的烹調書籍的作者。第一輪的試鏡輕鬆過關,然而她並沒有選擇參加第二輪試鏡。直到節目的製片親自打來電話詢問為何她不願意參加試鏡,並且一再要求她參加第二輪試鏡後,Poh改變了主意。她決定參加第二輪的試鏡,並且輕鬆進入第三關。

Poh對我說,“其實我們應該能夠理解,畢竟這個電視節目是第一次製作,我們​​對這個節目了解還不多。我們也不知道這個節目到底可以帶來什麼獎項。所有的參賽選手幾乎都是在毫不知情的情況下走進比賽現場的。封閉式比賽的想法聽起來有點嚇人,但是我的一個朋友建議我應該參加比賽。”

Poh對於參加電視真人秀的主要擔憂之一是電視會採用什麼燈光、觀眾在家裡觀看電視時看到的她會是什麼形象。她的另外一個擔憂就是這個電視真人秀會不會讓自己失去苦心經營的藝術事業。雖然擔心自己的事業和形象,Poh最終還是決定參加挑戰。不管前方會遇到什麼問題,當時的Poh只是集中精力做好手中的事情。經過一輪又一輪的激烈角逐,Poh最終進入總決賽。在兩人角逐最終冠軍時,Poh輸給了Julie Goodwin。後者稱為了“MasterChef”電視真人秀第一季的冠軍。在當時的那個時刻,雖然Poh沒有能夠贏得冠軍讓許多觀眾感到失望,但是參加這個電視節目卻為她開啟了眾多的機會之門。

Poh說,“老實說,我從來沒有想過我能在比賽中走那麼遠,我只是關注每一天,集中精力做好手上的事情。我還記得參加比賽的經歷,但是我當時真的是嚴重睡眠不足。”