Why MasterChef’s Poh has ‘walked away’ from work in the past

There's little doubt that Poh Ling Yeow is a national treasure. Australia first fell in love with the multi-talented cook, artist and author back in 2009 when she came second to winner Julie Goodwin on the debut season of MasterChef.

Since then, the 47-year-old has hosted her own TV shows, published multiple cookbooks and launched a gourmet food business while still making time for her first passion, painting.

MasterChef icon Poh Ling Yeow has been selected as on of L’Oréal Paris' 'Women of Worth'. Photo: supplied.
MasterChef icon Poh Ling Yeow has been selected as on of L’Oréal Paris' 'Women of Worth'. Photo: supplied.

Poh returned to MasterChef 10 years later as a mentor and in 2020 she threw her hat in the ring once again as a contestant in the all-star Back to Win series where she came sixth — much to the dismay of her fans.

She did, however, come out on top at that year's AACTAs, scooping the Audience Choice Award for Favourite TV Contestant of the Decade.


Now, Poh has been named one of L’Oréal Paris' 'Women of Worth' alongside singer Jessica Mauboy, cricketer Ellyse Perry and 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.

Poh chatted with Yahoo Lifestyle about personal milestones, learning from mistakes and why she's walked away from jobs in the past.

Poh Ling Yeow on MasterChef Back To Win in 2020
Poh was Back To Win on MasterChef in 2020. Photo: Channel 10.

Yahoo Lifestyle: Congratulations on the partnership — how does it feel to be standing alongside Rosie, Jessica and Ellyse?

Poh: It feels pretty special to be amongst these trailblazers. I’m really proud to be part of a campaign promoting such a positive message, 'because I’m worth it!'

YL: What does it mean to you as a Malaysian-Australian woman to be in such a position and to be someone that others can look up to?

P: It’s a personal milestone for me. Australia has welcomed my family with open arms and I hope I can inspire young girls of all cultures to dare to carve their own path in life.

YL: Two out of three Aussie women say self-doubt is the biggest block to their success. When has self-doubt held you back from reaching your potential and how did you overcome it?

P: I’m a horrible decision-maker. I’m what’s termed as a maximiser I’m greedy for an optimal result for all decisions I make which paralyses my brain with things as small as ordering from a menu.

Over time though, I’ve realised it’s the wrong decisions that have taught me the most. The important thing is to keep fluid and moving forward because as much as a good outcome can create success, a flawed outcome builds wisdom if we are open to learning from it. Staying bogged down by indecision is what corrodes away at self-esteem.

Check out more of our great International Women's Day 2021 coverage here:

YL: Fewer women than men will ask for a pay rise or apply for a job where they don't meet the criteria have you had similar experiences in your own life and how did you manage them?

Fortunately, I haven’t because I’ve been freelance my whole professional life. I do from time to time walk away from things where a client and my agent don’t see eye to eye with what we know I’m worth.

YL: L’Oréal Paris’ iconic tagline is "Because I’m Worth It" — what are just three things that make you, Poh, 'worth it'?

P: I work really hard and take pride in how I contribute meaningfully to things I pursue.

Intent is very important to me so while loving the things I do doesn’t always create a perfect result, it is definitely authentic.

I have the ability to see beauty and humour in even the most pear-shaped of situations!

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