5 minutes with… MasterChef winner, Ping Coombes

We chat to MasterChef winner and Malaysian food ambassador Ping Coombes about the dishes she loves to cook and some of her favourite places to dine out.

This month, Ping is working with Chi Kitchen to bring Malaysian food to the masses. On Sunday 9th October, she is launching a brand new South-East Asian inspired breakfast menu at Chi Kitchen on Oxford Street – tickets are on sale now.

pingcoombesWhat inspired you to start cooking?

I was at university and was craving food from home so I taught myself to cook. I saw it as an opportunity to learn and to experiment.

Do you have a signature dish? Or a dish you just really love to cook?

The first Malaysian dish I cooked was a Nasi Lemak. Considered to be the national dish of Malaysia, it is a fragrant coconut rice dish with spicy anchovy sambal, crispy anchovies, peanuts, cucumber and egg. An explosion of flavours and textures! This will be featured in this month’s Breakfast Club at Chi Kitchen.

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?

It is not an easy job, but one that is highly satisfying. Be prepared to work hard and learn as much as possible.

Which three ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?

Chillies, lemongrass and garlic. 

When you’re not in the kitchen, where do you like to eat in London?

Apart from eating at the restaurants in our group, such as Chai Wu in Harrods and Mango Tree in Victoria, I like to go to Hunan in Pimlico and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Knightsbridge.

And when you have time to travel, where’s your ultimate foodie destination?

I would love to go to Japan! If someone said to me, come and live here for a year and learn the cuisine, I would pack my things and family and go.

Visit our Open for Business blog to read more about Ping’s plans for the year. If you want to try some of her recipes for yourself, check out her book: Malaysia: Recipes from a Family Kitchen.

Make a reservation at Chi Kitchen on OpenTable this month and enjoy 50% off your food bill.

Photo credit: MALAYSIA: Recipes from a Family Kitchen by Ping Coombes. Published by Orion. Hardback: £25, eBook: £12.99. Photography (c) Laura Edwards