A full-time mother and self-professed ‘feeder’, Ipoh-born Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes has won the reality show MasterChef UK 2014 with classier versions of local favourites nasi lemak and wanton soup.
With a three-course meal that could’ve come from a Malaysian neighbourhood eatery, 33-year-old Coombes exceeded judges’ expectations with her starter of wanton soup, main course of nasi lemak and dessert of vanilla and coconut pannacotta with charred pineapple, freeze-dried mango and ‘pineapple and lime air’, reports The Star newspaper.
The Malaysian-inspired spread earned her rave reviews from judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Torode was reportedly quoted as saying of her starter, “It’s truly delicious. I don’t know how you made it. I wouldn’t be able to replicate it. It’s absolutely stunning.”
Veteran host Wallace adds, “She inspires me, she excites me. And she cares so much. Rarely have I seen someone whose repertoire can span whole continents.”
Of her victory, Coombes mentioned that the last time she felt such emotion was when she gave birth to her now-17-month-old daughter Alexa, saying, “[It is] pure joy and pure bliss that feels incredible. Epic.”
Coombes started cooking as a student studying in Oxford, and learnt to recreate her mother’s dishes to satisfy her cravings.
With this victory under her belt, Coombes said she would like to learn more about East Asian cuisine and maybe venture into the restaurant business or open a cookery school.