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