Australian MasterChef 2017 winner Diana Chan says winning the coveted competition has changed her life in a number of ways. Instead of crunching numbers in the office, the former accountant is travelling the world, cooking up a storm, and is also working on a new TV show.
“It has been non-stop and I love it!,” says Chan, on a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur.
The Johor-born lad won the highly popular series in a nail-biting finale when she defeated Ben Ungermann by one point to take home the title and walked away with AUD 250,0000 prize money.
One of my favourite things to have is just really good bread with butter and I’m happy.
“I think the main thing is confidence and to trust your food. You have to cook with passion and love.”
“Food doesn’t have to be complicated. One of my favourite things to have is just really good bread with butter and I’m happy,” says Chan. “For me it’s about having simple things but simple things done right rather than doing too much and not turning out so great.”
The former chartered accountant from Deloitte, Melbourne grew up in Johor Bahru and later moved to Australia to pursue an education in Finance and Accounting.
“I finished my degree in Bachelor of Commerce and I got a job as an accountant the same day I got my permanent residency. It all happened within 28 days so it’s been about nine years now since being a resident in Australia.”
“Although, Australia is my home now because that’s where I live, I still regard Malaysia as my first home.”
“It’s always nice to come home. I come back quite often probably around three or four times a year - mainly for work and then I usually stay to visit my family. It’s always lovely and I feel so welcomed,” she says.
Chan is very proud of her Malaysian heritage, evident from her introduction of a variety of Malay, Peranakan and Cantonese-inspired cuisines on MasterChef.
The talented chef says she is ready to roll up her sleeves and bring the Malaysian kitchen experience to a wider audience.
“You hear so much about Thai food, Vietnamese food in a lot of Western countries but Malaysian food isn’t as popular.”
“I’m trying to showcase Malaysian cuisine but not by going too extreme by showing them durian, for instance,” she says. “But something in between,” she adds with a smile.
“I want to get people to taste things and understand how complex Malaysian food is. We have so many different races offering a wide range of food choices,” adds Chan.
Currently, the MasterChef winner has collaborated with Chinese food brand, Golden Wok to introduce a range of frozen dumplings which are available at major supermarkets in Australia, such as Coles and Woolworths.
She’s also in the works of filming a new travel food show that revolves around Asian cuisine, while making sure her dream of owning a full-fledged restaurant becomes a reality.
“Last year I opened up a pop-up restaurant called Chanteen, I had it for seven months.” The casual concept store is located at Melbourne's hawker-style marketplace.
“Chanteen serves Malaysian street food. We have dishes like char kuey teow laksa, satay and a bit more fusion dishes like soft shell crab sliders.”
“To be honest, there’s a lot of Malaysian restaurants in Australia but I would say that not all of them are authentic or have the true flavours.”
“So, what I wanted to bring to the people of Australia was delicious and genuine Malaysian food at a good reasonable price.”
“Australians didn’t even know how to pronounce char kuey teow but they knew what to order. I had people coming in everyday to eat that dish, I’d have to tell them please don’t eat so much of this, it is not good for your health,” she says with a hearty laugh.
Chan’s calm, creative but bold demeanour had paid off in MasterChef, and there’s no turning back from her kitchen love affair.
“Hopefully, I can expand my restaurant all over Australia and maybe in the near future, come to Malaysia and Asia.”
“At the moment I’m working to come up with more products. I’ve got my dumplings in the two major supermarkets in Australia. I would love to bring that here using Australian produce.”
“I want to make it convenient for customers to purchase, at a reasonable price but still tasty,” says Chan