Dami Im On The Pleasure & Pressure Of Cooking For Melissa Leong On Celebrity Masterchef

Known for winning The X Factor in 2013 and representing Australia at Eurovision in 2016, Dami Im is widely celebrated for her musical talent as opposed to her cooking.
So it's no surprise the 32-year-old was feeling a bit out of her depth going into the Celebrity MasterChef competition.
Speaking to Refinery29 Australia ahead of the show's premiere on Sunday, Im said she enjoyed cooking for all three judges, Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, but she had a particularly strong connection with Leong.
Image courtesy of Channel 10
Melissa Leong (L) and Dami Im (R) on Celebrity MasterChef Australia
The singer said she had a strategy in place where she took inspiration from her Korean heritage to create dishes with emotion and love that not only reflected her personal story but made her stand out against her rivals.
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"That was my strategy from day one because I grew up eating Korean food," said Im. "I also thought, 'You know what, I probably know Korean food better than anybody else on the show and any of the judges, because it's my culture and I did it since I was born'."
Im highlighted that Leong, who is of Singaporean-Chinese descent, was an asset to the judging panel because she was particularly familiar with Asian cooking, but it also meant there was pressure to serve the highest standard.
"It was good and scary because I'd make these Korean dishes and I think the judges might not know what this is, and then she would know," she laughed.
Of course, all the judges "know so much about food" in Im's eyes, but she "really liked Melissa" because of the unique perspective as a POC (person of colour) that she brought to the table.
"She's able to critique and things that she says are just so eloquent," said Im. "As a fellow Asian, I just feel like she's a really good representative for us on television and she just knows so much and speaks really well, which I admire."
Leong joined the cooking show last year when she, Zonfrillo and Allen took over the judging roles from Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan who had been the judges for a decade.
Since her debut, Leong's casting has been praised for reflecting progress towards greater cultural diversity on Australian reality TV, and many fans have loved her ability to connect with POC contestants and their stories about food, family and migration.
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Im is one of 10 famous faces appearing on Celebrity MasterChef alongside actors Rebecca Gibney and Matt LeNevez, radio host and former Big Brother star Chrissie Swan, fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, gold medal Olympian Ian Thorpe, comedian Dilruk Jayasinha, footballer Archie Thompson, AFL champ Nick Riewoldt and British kitchen royalty, Tilly Ramsay who is the daughter of acclaimed chef, Gordon Ramsay.
With a diverse lineup like that, there's bound to be some delicious treats that come out of the star-studded kitchen.
Celebrity MasterChef will premiere on Sunday October 10 at 7:30pm on Channel 10.

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