PiYg CoomBEs ADmits to CuttiYg CorYErs likE thE rEst oF “
I’mflyingto MadridtomorrowandIhavea million andone things to do,” Ping Coombeswhispers, giggling at her hectic schedule. “And I’ve just movedhousesoIam surroundedbyboxes.”
But for the MasterChef champion – who has spent the past two years since winning the 2014 series in somewhat of a whirlwind – packing up a few belongings shouldn’t break a sweat.
Coombes, now in her mid-30s, has gone on to “spread the word” as global ambassador for her native Malaysian cuisine; cooked up a storm up at food festivals around the world, and landed her debut cookery book – Malaysia: Recipes From A Family Kitchen.
“No one really tells you what’s going to happen, because everything is so hush-hush,” she says of her crowning moment on the hit BBC cooking show. “The next day, I had interviews back-to-back and since then, I haven’t stopped.
“But I’m very lucky,” she quickly adds. “It just shows how accepting the British are of new cuisines.”
Malaysian food – afusion of Chinese, MalayandIndian tastes – has long beenahiddenjewelofSouth-East Asian cuisine, andgrowingup, Coombesdistinctly recalls a world that revolved around shedloads of the stuff.
“We had big gatherings,” she recalls. “As children, we would always sit down with my mum and dad to eat as a family, and that’s been ingrained in me.”
Yet while she remains heavily inspired by her up- bringing, Coombes claims she was eager to adapt her collection of 100 recipes to “fit in with life in the UK”.
“I simplify a lot of the recipes but still retain the flavour,” she says. “People want to try a foreign cuisine, but to cook it, it needs to be simple and delicious. ”
Coombes still hosts supper clubs, heads up her online hub Ping’s Pantry and leads private cookery classes so does she ever struggle spinning so many plates?
“We cook most of our food from scratch, but I do have cheat ingredients in my fridge,” she confesses. “It’s impossible to expect people with a busy lifestyle to do everything; I want people to be a bit more realistic.”