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Nasi lemak champ

Ipoh-born mum wins MasterChef UK with Asian favourites

A Malaysia-born contestant emerged the winner of reality TV cooking competition MasterChef UK 2014.

Ipoh-born full-time mother Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes beat the other two finalists in the final round with her upscale versions of Asian favourites wonton soup and nasi lemak.

Madam Chin, formerly an assistant hotel manager, surprised judges with a three-course meal comprising her wonton soup starter, nasi lemak main course, and dessert of vanilla and coconut panna cotta with charred pineapple, freeze-dried mango and "pineapple and lime air".

Her spread earned praise from judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, reported Malaysia's The Star.

According to online reports, Mr Torode is 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."

Australian chef Torode said: "For me, Ping is a cook's cook. She gets her head down, and she works really, really hard to make sure she reaches her goal. She is pretty amazing."

Madam Chin compared her victory to when she gave birth to her daughter, now-17-month-old Alexa, saying: "The last time I felt such emotion was when my daughter was born. Something that you don't get to experience a lot. Pure joy and pure bliss that feels incredible. Epic."

Despite winning, Madam Chin, who credits her mother as her culinary inspiration, was less optimistic about her chances of being allowed to cook in her mother's kitchen.

"My mother will be really proud I'm sure. I say this a lot, but she still won't let me in her kitchen."

COOKING SKILLS

Madam Chin, who learnt to cook from her mother and grandmother, said she first started cooking while studying in Oxford and learnt to recreate her mother's dishes to satisfy her cravings.

On her plans after winning, she said she would like to learn more about East Asian cuisine and perhaps venture into the restaurant business or open a cookery school.

Madam Chin beat co-finalists Jack Lucas and Luke Owen in the final challenge of the tenth series of the annual reality cooking show, which aired on BBC One in the UK last Friday night.

British bookies said she was the clear favourite going into the finals after eight weeks of competition, which saw the contestants cooking with surprise ingredients, feeding armies of hungry people, facing harsh criticism and dreaded weekly eliminations.