On Monday night's MasterChef, judge Melissa Leong was moved to tears eating Poh Ling Yeow's Nyonya chicken curry, nasi ulam and roti canai, reminded as she was of her memories of her mum and growing up as an Asian-Australian.
The contestants were challenged to create a dish inspired by a colour on the Rubik's Cube, with Poh choosing red for the chilli in the traditional Malaysian dish.
During the cook, Poh said that she was feeling happy because she was making a dish that "completely represents me and the way I grew up": "My journey with my cultural cuisine actually started in MasterChef season one. I realised I had let go of so much of my culture trying to assimilate as a migrant kid that I had to find that thing that reconnected me again, and food became that thing."
Melissa commented that, "It smells like my mum's kitchen in here!"
Poh told Melissa she wanted to bring Malaysian food into the spotlight with her cook, before noting to camera that she and Melissa had similar upbringings, with food at the centre. "I love that we share this story, so it's nice that I can give her a piece of that today."
Judging the dish, Melissa said: "If you come from southeast Asia, it's a taste of home. If you come from somewhere else, it's a taste of soul and history and heart. And that's what we love about your food.
"I think you've done an incredible job honouring your heritage. I think it's really special. And I'm really proud to eat food like this," Melissa continued, as she started to tear up. "I'm actually crying with joy. That doesn't happen very often . . ."
Jock Zonfrillo asked Melissa to explain what about Poh's dish moved her so much. "I really miss my mum," Melissa offered. "And this is food she cooks. The smell of that in the house on weekends . . . The way [Poh] can honour the accuracy of the flavours and the textures is absolutely spot-on and that's what great food can do."
Poh reflected to camera: "There is no higher compliment I could receive than someone reacting like that to my food, because I don't think people can react to food like that if they don't feel like it's been made with that love."
Sharing a picture of the dish to Instagram overnight, Poh reflected: "This is the magic of recipes, they take on a life of their own, shaped by the hands of every custodian they have passed through and even after eons of time travelling, the intent is still felt."
She then thanked the judges, Melissa in particular, for "giving me a moment that felt bigger than me — the reason why cultural dishes just float my boat".
Melissa commented on the post: "These moments are bigger than any of us, and yet they are about that very humble thing, which is to be human, and made from people and places that carry meaning. Thank you for reminding me of that.
"I think it's something we can all relate to, no matter where you come from, or what your story is."
It's not the first time MasterChef: Back to Win has offered a soulful moment, drawing on contestants' and Melissa's cultural backgrounds to show an often overlooked side of Australia and Australian food, and to reflect on the importance of emotion in cooking.
Fans watching at home were as pleased as ever to see MasterChef continue to take strides for greater representation on Australian screens: