Tri­umphant home­com­ing

MasterChef Aus­tralia’s Diana Chan re­cently re­turned to the coun­try of her birth, fresh from her win on the show.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­tar.com

WHEN Mel­bourne-based Diana Chan won Sea­son 9 of MasterChef Aus­tralia in late July, she was re­ally touched by the ex­u­ber­ant sup­port of her fel­low Malaysians – and im­me­di­ately knew that she would have to plan a home­com­ing trip.

“It’s been amaz­ing to meet fans, to be met with so much wel­come and love,” said Chan, when she was in Kuala Lumpur in early October. “Re­ally touch­ing to meet peo­ple who have been fol­low­ing my jour­ney – Malaysians sup­port­ing Malaysians!”

“I don’t see my­self as a celebrity though – just as a very for­tu­nate per­son,” she said.

Her two-week trip saw her cook for a spe­cial din­ner, con­duct a cook­ing demo at the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional School Malaysia, and con­duct an­other cook­ing demo at Mid-Valley Mega­mall, in a mee­tand-greet with fans – among oth­ers. The am­bi­tious Chan was con­stantly on the go dur­ing her visit.

“I’m al­ready plan­ning an­other trip to Jo­hor Baru, where I grew up!” she said.

Life has changed very much for her, since the win. “It’s been such a tremen­dous change in my life, know­ing that you can make food your pas­sion and fo­cus,” said Chan.

“I was an ac­coun­tant with a 9 to … 5 job but nowa­days, I can jump out of bed and do menu plan­ning, or have a cook­ing demo or a pho­to­shoot, or do some recipe test­ing.”

And Chan says that her time on MasterChef Aus­tralia has also changed her. “I han­dle stress so much bet­ter nowa­days, and I find that I’m re­ally up for any­thing. Throw me any chal­lenge, and I’m ready to ex­plore!”

“Right now, my fo­cus is to meet peo­ple, build a pro­file and show­case my food phi­los­o­phy,” she says. Her ap­proach is all about lo­cal, sus­tain­ably sourced and fresh pro­duce, and flavours which fuse and bridge cul­tures.

“I try to buy or­ganic and free-range pro­duce,” she said. “It’s im­por­tant to eat ethically-pro­duced food, and we need to take care of the an­i­mals that pro­vide our food – I don’t like the idea of hor­mone-in­jected chick­ens, etc. And re­ally, prop­erly sourced pro­duce just tastes bet­ter!”

Chan says there’s been much in­ter­est in her win and her work from both Malaysia and South-East Asia, and so her ini­tial dream of a brick-and-mor­tar fu­sion-type restau­rant will be slightly de­layed.

“I want to pro­mote Malaysia via its food and cul­ture, so I’m look­ing at a food and travel show, a cook­book, and do­ing some pop-ups in both Mel­bourne and KL,” she said. “And then I’ll prob­a­bly look at next year to open an ac­tual restau­rant.”

The best of MasterChef Aus­tralia Sea­son 9 will run un­til Nov 4, on Satur­days at 12pm on Life­time (Astro Ch 709).

LEMON RI­COTTA DOUGH­NUTS WITH SALTED CARAMEL

Makes 10 to 12

dough­nut

2 eggs (beaten) 1 tbsp caster sugar 1 cup self-rais­ing flour 1 cup ri­cotta cheese 1 lemon, zest and juice oil, for deep fry­ing

sugar coat­ing

1 cup caster sugar 1 tsp cin­na­mon pow­der

salted caramel sauce

1 cup caster sugar 1/2 cup thick­ened cream 3 tbsp but­ter 1 tsp salt

To make dough­nuts

Mix all dough­nut in­gre­di­ents in a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok. Us­ing two ta­ble­spoons, cre­ate balls and im­me­di­ately drop them into the hot oil.

The balls will turn them­selves over when one side is done. This should take 4 to 5 min­utes.

Fry un­til golden brown and cooked through; ad­just heat as needed if they brown too quickly with­out cook­ing through.

Drain on pa­per tow­els to cool and ab­sorb oil.

To coat

In a bowl, mix the caster sugar and cin­na­mon to­gether and roll the ri­cotta dough­nuts in the sugar mix­ture to coat.

For the salted caramel sauce

Grad­u­ally add the sugar into a saucepan. Keep swirling to agi­tate and al­low the sugar to melt.

As it melts, keep adding in the rest grad­u­ally.

Cook with­out stir­ring un­til the sugar has reached an am­ber colour; this should take ap­prox­i­mately 10 to 12 min­utes.

In the mean­time, warm the cream in an­other saucepan.

When the caramel is ready, slowly pour in the cream and con­tinue to whisk un­til smooth, about 2 to 3 min­utes.

Whisk in the but­ter and add the salt to taste.

Serve warm with the cin­na­mon sugar-dusted dough­nuts.

— Pho­tos: Life­time

Chan with an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd at her cook­ing demo at the Mid-Valley Mega­mall.

‘I don’t see my­self as a celebrity ... just a very for­tu­nate per­son,’ says Chan.

Lemon ri­cotta dough­nuts with salted caramel sauce.

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