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Life

Poh Ling Yeow

Last time we spoke to Poh Ling Yeow, she was on the verge of launching the second series of her television show, Poh & Co., and had just opened her café, Jamface. This time, we’re catching up with her to talk about her baking book, Poh Bakes 100 Greats. 
TV presenter, cook, baker, author, artist, café owner – a better cover star for our diversity issue would have been tough to find! 

Not many people know Poh as a baker, a point she makes in the introduction to her book. But, in actual fact, it was her first great cooking love. So, this book was a long time coming. 
“I’m really excited about it because I feel like it’s a book I would have written first if I’d had my own way,” she explains. “But everyone knew me for my South-East Asian food, so I had to buy a bit of time and come out as a baker before I could effectively sell a book about baking!” 

Poh ‘came out’ by opening Jamface, her café in Adelaide’s Central Market at the end of 2015. While Jamface offers other eats, the main attractions are Poh’s great passion – cakes and pastries made from scratch on site. 

I just don't think I"m out ot impress anyone anymore. I've shed all of that self-consciousness and I literaly cook food I would put on my table at home. 

- Poh Ling Yeow

 

Childhood inspiration

Poh’s love of baking started when she was a child, she explains. “I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen much as a kid, but baking was one thing I was allowed to do because my mum and great aunty Kim deemed it safe.”
Poh’s mum, Christina, was also a great source of inspiration. “I grew up watching my mum bake madly all through my childhood,” she recalls. 

For Christina, home economics was the highlight of her school days, and when they arrived in Australia, she took to baking with gusto. 
One of the things Christina really instilled in her daughter is the power of persistence. 
“If she doesn’t get something right,” Poh says, “she’ll just make it every day for five days in a row until she perfects it. I have definitely inherited that obsessiveness to get things right.”

While many authentic Malaysian desserts are fried, steamed or frozen, baked treats are common too. One that Poh was particularly fond of growing up was pineapple tarts, the recipe for which features in her book. 
“They’re a really popular little Malaysian snack with really short crust pastry and a super caramelised jam on top,” she describes. 

Another of her childhood favourites in the book is coconut love letters. “They always remind me of Chinese New Year. They’re actually really easy to make, with a similar texture to tuille, but a lovely coconutty flavour,” Poh says. 

The legend of these treats is that young Peranakan women, who weren’t allowed to meet their loves unattended, would write love letters, hide them inside folded biscuits, and throw them over the wall to their boyfriends. 

For more recipes and the full story with Poh, pickup a copy of Selector  from all good newsagents, subscribe or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery. 

OUT NOW: Poh bakes 100 Greats by Poh Ling Yeow, RRP $39.99. 

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Food
Impress: Poh Ling Yeow
Words by Mark Hughes on 14 Jun 2017
It is so easy to fall in love with Poh Ling Yeow. She's wildly attractive, intelligent, funny and vivacious. She has a dazzling charisma, but at the same time is approachable. And she’s oh so talented. A professional artist before starring on the first season of Masterchef, she is now a true celebrity of the Australian food scene and host of her own show, Poh & Co., on SBS. “It’s really lovely to be back on a second season of Poh & Co. and working with friends and family, because ultimately that’s where I get all my inspiration from,” Poh tells me when we sit down for a chat on the set of our Impress photoshoot. “It’s a very truthful depiction of how I draw my ideas, the kind of everyday influences that I have and the people that I come in contact with. “The thing that I love about the show most is that it touches on very common, suburban aspirations, you know, wanting to have a vege patch or build your own pizza oven. It’s got currency in terms of people being able to relate to it very easily.” Working on TV and being able to chat with people from all walks of life has also benefitted Poh in the fact that she has been able to feel more secure about her own food identity. “I used to be very purist about the way I cooked, but now I’m relaxing and understanding what my identity is, which is a Malaysian-born Chinese Australian. So I feel like my food should absolutely reflect that. “Now I feel I have this license to be a little bit more free and playful with my food and it absolutely reflects what food is all about. It’s all about multiculture, about mixing ingredients and techniques.” The other exciting development in Poh’s life is opening her first restaurant, Jamface, in Adelaide’s Central Markets. “It’s actually just a little café – a very casual place. I’m cooking light breakfasts and lunches. The main focus is actually my pastry. I’m well known for my Asian food, but the thing that I absolutely love is French pastry. You should come down and check it out.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Poh:  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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