One-on-one with Poh Ling Yeow.
Noodlies, Sydney food blog has a quiet chat with Poh about her new SBS show, life and the food TV genre in general.
You know the formula of a food/travel show, take a successful chef, whisk them back to their homeland, they meet family or just random people and in the process cook three dishes with two commercial breaks in between.
…it’s wall to wall travel, stop, chop and chat.
I can’t knock it, those ingredients seem to work for food/travel shows. Just look at Thursday nights on SBS – it’s wall to wall “travel, stop, chop and chat”. Different chefs, different countries, different dishes. Same formula.
At a recent media event, noodlies was able to whisk Poh aside for a quick cup of English breakfast (black, no sugar) to chat about her new six-part series, Poh & Co.
Is it any different or more of the same?
“After masterchef I was given a great break at the ABC. It was an amazing experience but after 3 seasons I was really struggling with the amount of travelling. Towards the end I wasn’t sure if it reflected the diehard homebody I am.” she said.
Poh says she’s a homebody who loves the suburban life in Adelaide and this series isn’t the usual food TV fare of exotic overseas adventure and food. While the camera follows her chaotic life as she sets up her small business creating home-baked delicacies, builds an edible garden and continues with her art, Poh winces when “reality TV” is brought up.
“Poh and Co. isn’t scripted. For example, we know what we would shoot on Sunday because it’s what I always do on Sunday, which is set up shop at the market. I flag the crew on interesting stuff I intend to do that week and we shoot it as it plays out organically. The cameras aren’t running continuously like they do on a reality TV show” she says.
She says reality TV hinges on is the notion of “jeopardy” for tension. “I think audiences are privy to how manufactured these moments of potential disaster are and tiring of it. I really feel there’s enough interesting moments in life if you look for them, they don’t always have to have you on the edge of your seat, they can spur a thought or an emotion that can hang around in your head much longer than the quick thrill of suspense”.
The concept was conceived by Poh and SBS Executive Prod Erik Dwyer. “I wanted to be based in Adelaide and make a recipe driven cooking show again, not a travelogue” she said. When Dwyer asked Poh what makes me happy, her long reply meant they had lots to work with: “well, I need to sort this garden out because I’ve always dreamt of having a vege patch, I’d die if I couldn’t paint and I love writing – I’m finishing a cookbook now and Jono and I love the idea of having a brick oven…..”.
And with a few recipes thrown in, it became Poh & Co.
Poh & Co.
Starts Thursday, 2 April 8pm (six-part series)