Growing up, Sarah Tiong didn't see herself in the media. There were barely any Asian women looking out at her from magazines or television shows or movies, and even fewer with ambitions like hers.
This year, the lawyer/chef has played a role in changing that for the next generation.
By returning to MasterChef 2020, following a successful stint in season nine, Sarah has been part of a pivotal moment in local TV history.
Watch: Sarah's message after her elimination from MasterChef 2020.
The 'Back to Win' series, which is the first under new judging lineup of Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, has been widely celebrated for its representation of Asian Australians. From its more diverse casting to its celebration of migrant stories and normalisation of Asian ingredients (think chicken feet and durian) that would have once been deemed too "exotic" for a mass audience.
"It wasn't something that immediately stood out to me until we actually walked into the MasterChef kitchen for the first time and I saw how many Asian Australians were in this cast, how many Asian Australians were representing their heritage and their vision and their perspective of Australia," Sarah told Mamamia. "And even those that are not Asian Australians who were cooking Asian food, as if it was the norm.
"It was a moment that was really quite inspiring for a lot of us. And to have Melissa Leong represent Asian Australian women in such a position of power — that is an incredible achievement!"
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A few of my loves 🥰❤️ 📸 at the @masterchefau Season 12 Back to Win launch party the other night! The friendships and level of respect and connection formed through this experience is tremendous. Boy am I lucky. — — #good #food #foods #foodie #foodies #friends #chef #cook #masterchefau #masterchef #tv #women #womeninbusiness #womensupportingwomen #grateful