Speaking after her televised elimination, Ling Yeow said she was actually in good spirits despite not making it into the top five.
“I’m very good at processing emotional stuff,” she said. “You have to accept the lows and highs. One makes you appreciate the other. I’ve had a little bit of time to sit back and all I can say is I loved every minute of it. No regrets.”
Ling Yeow’s elimination, which was filmed about three months ago, coincided with the introduction of widespread lockdowns due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. On the MasterChef: Back to Win set, strict social distancing measures were quickly implemented.
I do want to thank the people who’ve supported me and understood my madness and embraced me for who I am. I know I’m hard to watch.
Judges went from sharing plates of food one day to only tasting separate portions. Contestants were suddenly banned from back-slapping or high-fiving each other. This meant, when it came time for Ling Yeow to say goodbye, she was only allowed to elbow-bump her fellow contestants.
“I really missed hugs after the cook,” Ling Yeow said. “It was a really high-pressure environment: all of us had these businesses going south while we’re in there trying to make compelling TV for Australia, leaving families behind, there’s so many levels of stress. So the hugs give you that relief.”
To those who are devastated she’s leaving their screens earlier than anticipated, Ling Yeow said it’s important for people to know that MasterChef is just one aspect of her life.
“There’s a kind of relief when you’re let go,” she said. “You’re sitting with that pressure for so many months. But I do want to thank the people who’ve supported me and understood my madness and embraced me for who I am. I know I’m hard to watch.
“The message I want to put out there is whatever is making you feel different on the outside now, you can learn to harness that. It’s going to make you unusual and outshine the rest. Be yourself. At 46 I think I can actually lay claim to having done that.”
As for what comes next, Ling Yeow said she will continue to refine her bakery, Jamface, which is located at the Adelaide Central Markets. She also has plans to release a fourth book and embrace her former life as an artist.
“I feel the painting really calling me again,” she said. “It’s been quite an intense few months doing MasterChef. I’m into solitude right now.”
This year’s remaining MasterChef contestants are Callum Hann from season two, Emelia Jackson and Laura Sharrad from season six, Reynold Poernomo from season seven and Reece Hignell from the show’s 10th season.
MasterChef: Back to Win airs on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on Network 10.
Broede Carmody is a culture reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald