“I love Melissa. She is a bright beacon of light on the show. She is someone we didn’t even know we needed on Australian TV till we got her,” Khanh told HuffPost Australia. “We understood why she is needed.”
He said Melissa is not only “unapologetic and strong” and someone who “doesn’t back down” from what she believes in, but also “champions positivity”.
“She’s not about scandal, she’s about championing positivity and I appreciate that and I admire her so much for it.”
This year’s season of ‘MasterChef Australia’ has showcased a diversity of cultures and food, and Melissa’s Singaporean-Chinese heritage has helped play a part in that, according to contestant Brendan Pang.
“I would say I connected quite well with Melissa given her background and her love of very similar foods to food that I love the most,” said the Mauritian-Chinese contestant, who was known for his delicious dumplings on the show.
“I think in the past five years there’s been a lot of diversity on the show. In my season two years ago, there was a big Asian representation. I think with the addition of Mel as the new judge, it’s been awesome and she’s really helped emphasise that.”
Many viewers have shared similar sentiments on social media:
can we go back a second and just talk about brendan saying how lovely it was that Melissa understood the importance of his wonton dish because she’s from an Asian background too 🥺— Isha Bassi (@Isha_Bassi) April 22, 2020
THIS is why representation and diversity is so important #MasterchefAU
trying to imagine a masterchef without melissa. i cant. she is that much needed asian presentation we shouldve had in the very beginning #MasterChefAU— baconcaked (@baconbaked) May 21, 2020
#MasterChefAU I appreciate Melissa sticking up for the rice balls. I'm so happy about that. Finally, someone who GETS Asian food. I love her so much.— 🥀𝕁𝕖𝕟𝕟𝕚! (Tentatively) At The Disco (@wittyhandle_) May 7, 2020
I’m SO glad Melissa is there because her understanding of E & SE Asian food is so much deeper than Jock and Andy’s - the fact that they’d never even heard of otak otak! #MasterChefAU— Wei Ming Kam (@weimingkam) June 14, 2020
‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.