Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes wins 'MasterChef UK'

Ipoh-born wins 'MasterChef UK'

MALAYSIAN-BORN chef Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes, 32, was crowned UK MasterChef Champion 2014 on Friday, catapulting Malaysia and the humble nasi lemak with sambal ikan bilis on to the international culinary stage.

Beating Jack Lucas and Luke Owen after eight weeks of nail-biting moments to become the show's tenth winner, Ping, a full time housewife who lives in Bath with husband Andrew, and 18-month-old daughter Alexa, won over judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with dishes she was familiar with when growing up in Malaysia.

Her winning three-course meal, which included a Chinese wonton dumpling soup, nasi lemak and vanilla panna cotta for dessert, was agreed by judges of the BBC1 show as a clear winner, while her two other competitors both agreed the best chef had won.
Her win also got the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who congratulated her via twitter, "@NajibRazak: well done UK Masterchef @WanPingCoombes! Malaysian flavours and talent are truly world class."

"When I eat Ping's food I feel happy, it makes my heart thump," said Torode.

There was a tense moment when Wallace said the sambal ikan bilis was too salty, but the overall presentation won him over.

Visibly overwhelmed by the announcement by the judges last night she said: "The last time I felt such emotion was when my daughter was born. Something that I don't think you get to experience a lot. (It is ) pure joy and pure bliss that feels incredible, epic."

With her mother as her constant inspiration, she added: "My mother would be really proud, I'm sure. But I say this a lot -- I'm sure she still wouldn't let me in her kitchen!"

Her entry into the vast, albeit daunting kitchen of MasterChef was followed closely by Malaysians everywhere and last night's victory was marked with "Ping! Ping did it!", all over Facebook timelines and Twitters.

The new MasterChef champion initially underestimated her ability and was not even confident she would make it to be one of the contestants.

However, once she was on the set, the adrenaline started pumping and she told herself that she was going to make it a great experience "no matter what".

Although her mother is thousands of kilometres away in Malaysia, she finds inspiration in her mum's cooking, and had watched and learnt a lot of her mother's cooking techniques.

She made sure her mother watched her using her iPad.

One of the first to congratulate her was celebrity chef Chef Norman Musa, who had also been tirelessly promoting Malaysian food on the international stage.

He said: "Ping winning MasterChef UK will dramatically boost the exposure of Malaysian food -- my big mission, for which I have been working hard over the last few years. Ping is a great example of how we Malaysians cook and eat our food with passion, which she did so brilliantly. I and all Malaysians are very proud of her!"

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation's (Matrade) Commissioner, Mr Khairul Nizam Moonier, who had been following the programme closely, said Matrade was very happy with the victory and hoped that as MasterChef champion, she would be able to participate in Malaysia Kitchen programmes in the UK.
"I have had a chance to meet Ping when she visited the Spring Market, organised by Malaysia Kitchen recently, and informed her that we would like to invite her to participate in our events, which would include the Malaysia Night at Trafalgar Square."


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