You're either a Poh or a Reynold: The MasterChef theory that's weirdly accurate.

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FFS, Poh.

One more last-minute pie and my children will lose all respect for me.

One more multi-layered chiffon cake that has no business cooling down before you ice it, might push us all over the iso edge.

We’re watching MasterChef 2020 in my house. All of us. For my kids, it was an effort at first. They eat pesto-pasta and fish fingers, and are not familiar with poached lobster, anything that involves a dry-ice gun, kohlrabi or a kangaroo tail.

But they do understand tension, passion and high stakes, and they understand trying, and wanting. After all, they bargain for screen-time like high-level hostage negotiators and are intimately familiar with playground politics.

Watch: The MasterChef 2020 trailer. Post continues below.

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But the lesson I’m watching my daughter learn from MasterChef is not about food, or even competition.

It’s about how different we all are. How all these people onscreen supposedly want the same thing – not to embarrass themselves horribly in front of a million people on national television – but the way they go about it is entirely different.

If there’s an excellent example of the ‘two types of people’ trope, it’s illustrated by two of the most jaw-droppingly talented contestants on this year’s ‘all-stars’ season of MC – Poh and Reynold.

If you have better things to do while you’re self-isolating than watch fish fry, you might not be familiar with these geniuses.

Poh Ling Yeow is an Australian household name from the very first season of Australian Masterchef which was a sobering 11 years ago now.  There was Poh and there was Julie Goodwin and no one on any of the ensuing seasons was ever as ace again.

Julie went on to write some best-selling cookbooks, sell a shedload of Australian Women’s Weekly mags and have an outrageously successful catering business, while Poh got her own SBS Food show, also wrote many books (lots about cakes) and runs her own pop-up cafe and bakery business, JamFace.


She’s a legend, and she’s the biggest name on MasterChef’s 2020 reboot, which gambles (successfully) on the fact that there might be new judges in the kitchen, but at least you’ll feel safe with all the familiar faces from the 11 seasons who have come “Back To Win”.

Reynold Poernomo was on season seven and he didn’t win, which now seems entirely ridiculous. He is almost always referred to as a “dessert man” and he and his brothers run a swanky and popular dessert bar in Sydney’s Chippendale, called Koi.

And you might not know it yet, but you are either a Poh or a Reynold.


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You are a Poh if you are wildly ambitious but entirely impractical. If you’re given half an hour to do something, and you choose the thing that will take 45 minutes.

You’re a Poh if you’re always late because you underestimate how long everything – from you finding your shoes, to the traffic on the way – would take.

You’re a Poh if you think, ‘why do things by halves?’

You’re a Poh if playing it safe feels like a cop-out.

You’re a Poh if all of these traits really irritate and stress the people around you.

And you’re a Poh if generally, it turns out fine. Because you back yourself, even if others don’t.

While my 10-year-old daughter’s watching Poh, she’s hiding behind her fingers. She’s equal parts admiring and bewildered.


“Why wouldn’t you pick something easier?” she’ll cry, as Poh decides to bake an elaborately adorned pie that takes 15 minutes longer than the allotted time. But my daughter’s also rooting for her, thrilled by the daring, the creativity, the confidence. “Come on, Poh!” she’s screaming at the TV, as the seconds tick down and her hero still stares into the flames, willing the pie-crust to brown.

Meanwhile, you’re a Reynold if you are quietly confident that you know exactly what it takes to do what needs to be done, and that you are the one to do it.

You’re a Reynold if you’re a planner and a keen student and a calm, precise executor. If you underpromise and overdeliver.

You’re a Reynold if you know how hard you worked, and you’re sure as shit not going to let down all those people who depend on you.

You’re a Reynold if your imagination has taken you to seek out all the best tools and shortcuts to help you achieve the goals you keep recorded in a place you view daily.

Reynold is never late, and he’s always calm. He knew he could do it. And so did you.

Listen: On The Quicky, we go behind the scenes of Masterchef to find out how filming is going with social distancing rules now in place, whether it will be obvious when those kick in and will it take away from the ‘feels’ the show delivers in spades. Post continues below.

So, why am I cursing Poh even as I’m watching my daughter delight in her daring?

Because I am a Poh, through and through. I can’t bake, of course, and am not suggesting I am at her level of stratospheric talent and achievement, but I am always the chaotic whirl of optimism teetering on the edge of a deadline.

I always overpromise. I always slide in under the line, knees muddied. I always say, “Yes, of course I can do that!” when clearly, I can’t.

I’m always late.

This season of MasterChef, the ‘Poh-la-coaster’ has reached a higher sense of self-awareness. “It’s my nature,” she shrugs, now. “I’ve decided to lean into it.”

Me, too, Poh, me too. But I’d love it if my kids could be just a little more Reynold. I get the sense that life might be calmer, more measured, more satisfying. I wonder what the world would be like if you weren’t always just a tiny bit terrified that everything was going to collapse around you, and without always wondering what you could have done if you’d actually given yourself breathing room to get there.

Look at Reynold, M, I say. He’s a genius. He’s incredible. He’s a well-oiled machine.

But her eyes are full of Poh’s exploding stars. It may already be too late.

Feature Image: Channel Ten.

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