She’s beautiful, has the most infectious guffaw on television and loves being ordinary. But, to her fans, she’s anything but – am I’m included in that bunch.
‘Poh and Co’ introduced me to much I didn’t know about not the winner of of 2009’s series of MasterChef – the most watched single episode of any small screen series during the noughties. This, I guess, says something about the prominence of tucker in the national consciousness and the ‘taste’ of the Australian viewing public. Competitive cooking has become a staple of the networks’ infatuation with the reality genre in this country. I have refrained from watching any of them – partly, I suspect, from fear of getting sucked in along with the masses. No, I am far more comfortable with the less frenetic fare put our way by SBS and it’s rota of not-so-celebrity cooks – Peter Kuruvita, Adam Liaw, Luke Nguyen and so on. When the big guns come on, like the King of Cornwall, Rick Stein, or Antonio Carlucco, I am up for that too. Many of these also take us to exotic locales, cooking on beaches, in primitive villages, in rainforests and on mountain passes. But Poh is over all that – been there, done that. Her latest offering takes her not too far away from her Adelaidean suburban abode. ‘Poh and Co’ charts the course of some garden renovations under- taken by hubby Jono, together with a bevy of family and friends, not to mention two cute pooches. They’re an eclectic lot as one would expect from our multicultural, hipster society of today. All are either competent with a pitchfork and shovel or on the culinary front. The latter group’s job is to keep the troops fed with easy to be assembled tucker from easily accessible ingredients – or to distract Poh from the task at hand.
It’s a simple premise, free of the manufactured in-fighting and crises over a poorly poached egg so central to the big cooking behemoths of commercial television. Jono is a natural – and it was on the set of that MasterChef series that their eyes first locked on to each other. He’s a knockabout lad, flexible enough to put up with wifely whims and the peculiar hours she keeps. The others that feature are an immensely likeable bunch – so its easy to see the reason for Poh’s reluctance these days to stray too far from the embrace of kith and kin.
‘Poh and Co’ also highlights the host’s artistic leanings – prior to MasterChef these were her major claim to fame. They, until recently, faded into the background after Auntie snavelled up her potential and formed ‘Poh’s Kitchen’ around her skills with edibles and her winning personality. Being so thoroughly in her thrall, I can’t help but like what she produces with this other expertise once she has a paintbrush in her hand. Some may feel her figurative style is far too cutesy to be taken seriously, but she is garnering some amount of success and is a regular exhibitor on the South Australian art scene. And what she did with those annoying dints in her metallic grey fridge was a revelation. Something was peeing her off, so she thought outside the box and came up with a solution – albeit a labour intensive one.
‘Poh and Co’ has finished its run now but no doubt, if you missed it, it would be out on DVD. I am hoping, in conjunction with SBS, Poh Ling Yeow Bennett will soon come back to grace our living rooms with a similar low-key project. Long may she remain on our screens.
Website for Poh’s art = http://pohlingyeow.com/