WHILE best known for working her culinary magic in the kitchen, Poh Ling Yeow is a woman of many talents.
The industrious 39-year-old’s Wikipedia page alone breathlessly describes her as an artist, celebrity chef, actress, author and even former make-up artist to the stars, just to name a few.
Yeow admits she “hasn’t really stopped” since finishing as runner-up in the 2009 series of reality cooking show “Masterchef”.
“I’ve always been someone who has a go at everything in life, to the point where I’m often spreading myself too thin,” Yeow says, as she chats to “CityNews” from her Adelaide home.
The culinary queen will visit Canberra’s spring festival, Floriade, hosting cooking demonstrations in the Gourmet Garden on October 12.
Yeow says she’s keen to foster an awareness of “food wastage” while she’s here.
“When I was growing up, I was taught that wasting food was a cardinal sin, and it affected the way I treated food,” she says.
“I can’t believe how many people throw out food just because they need one thing from whatever they’re using. I’ve worked with a lot of people doing it tough and it’s just made me more aware of it.”
Outside of cooking, Yeow will be searching for a few gardening tips – “my backyard is a bit of an overgrown forest at the moment,” she laughs.
“I do like gardening though, I’m a bit of a nanna like that – I don’t like holidays, I prefer pottering around in the garden and home.
“As a painter, I’m also looking forward to drawing inspiration from the festival’s vibrant colours and the creativity behind it.”
This will be Yeow’s third visit to Canberra and, surprisingly, the top of her to-do list outside of Floriade isn’t taste-testing the glittering array of new restaurants the capital has to offer, but visiting the National Gallery.
“I really don’t eat out that much when I’m travelling, I’m usually pretty pooped,” she admits.
Born in Malaysia in 1973 into a fifth-generation Chinese family, Yeow emigrated to Australia at age nine, growing up in Adelaide.
After graduating in graphic design, she initially made her living as a make-up artist, becoming successful enough to work regularly with model Megan Gale and fashion designer Lisa Ho.
By her late 20s, she’d staged her first solo exhibition of paintings, the first of more than a dozen solo shows in cities around Australia.
In 2005, she appeared on television for the first time in the ABC’s “Beat the Chef”, cooking alongside her great aunt Kim Thoo.
It was a move that served as the catalyst for her “Masterchef” venture – something she says she “just had to try”.
Regular watchers of the 2009 series knew her as the contestant with the infectious laugh who could whip up a top-notch Malaysian dish with ease.
After “Masterchef”, Yeow released her own cookbook and hosted a successful television series, “Poh’s Kitchen”. Currently she’s on TV screens playing the part of a disgruntled fiancée in the ABC comedy series “It’s a Date”.
“I would call it more something I’m having a go at; acting isn’t something that I think of as my destined career,” Yeow laughs, adding that she primarily considers herself a painter and a cook – “the other stuff just goes with it.”
Yeow says she still watches “Masterchef” every now and then – “this year is one of the first years I really got into it; because when you first come out of it it’s still a bit raw and weird”.
For now, she is busily working on her new cookbook, “Same Same But Different”, due for release on Mother’s Day next year, and planning for her upcoming art exhibition at the end of the year.
“I think I’ve consumed most of my energy this year, so this exhibition will be my downtime,” she says.
“I often reflect during that time, and it always reminds me that I still had a very beautiful life before all of this happened.”
Poh Ling Yeow will be cooking in Floriade’s Gourmet Garden on October 12 from 4pm.