One of the standout contestants on the latest iteration of MasterChef: Legends is undoubtedly Chef Suu M. Khin, a native of Burma who is bringing her culture's cuisine to the world stage. Through a sizable Instagram following and now a major placement on the hit cooking show, Suu is positioned to teach an entirely new group of people about her home nation's most famous dishes.
Although she is working diligently to preserve Burmese culture through cuisine, Suu is also cooking in honor of someone near and dear to her heart: her grandmother. So, who exactly is Suu's grandmother, what was the chef's journey to culinary stardom, and how does she plan to bring Burma's unique recipes to those who may never have been exposed to them otherwise? Here's a breakdown.
Suu M. Khin's grandmother has had a profound impact on her career as a chef.
Suu's biggest influence for pursuing a career as a chef came from her grandmother, who, it seems, taught her how to cook; she describes herself in her Instagram bio as a "grandma-trained home cook," which implies that her culinary expertise derives from the lessons taught to her throughout life by her grandmother.
Per an interview with Voyage Houston, Suu explained that her grandmother hails from "a river delta region" and, as such, has included seafood as a staple in her recipes and overall diet.
After Suu worked and pursued an education in the U.S. for three years, she returned to Burma in 2015. She recalls the moment where she felt as though preserving her family recipes was her true calling, all thanks to her grandmother. "My grandmother retold the legend behind a dish named Bachelor’s chicken curry, for the nth time," Suu explained.
This inspired her to begin her food blog, @burmalicious_by_suu. She said of her her grandmother's story: "This recipe became my very first post on the website and Instagram."
The power of her cooking lies largely in its deeply-rooted cultural ties, "The uniqueness of the recipes reflects the elaborate diversity that runs through my family," the current Texas resident explained during the interview. "It also finds the roots in the life journeys of my grandparents, all of who came from different ethnic groups and regions in Burma."
In an exclusive clip for Distractify of her latest appearance on MasterChef: Legends, Suu is bringing her grandmother's influence right to the forefront in the form of a dessert homage to her. The chef presented a rendition of coconut and vanilla panna cotta topped with passion fruit coulis and a fortune cookie, which drew rave remarks from judges.
"[My grandmother] made me who I am today; she instilled this love for cooking in me since I was 6 or 7," Suu told Gordon Ramsay, explaining that her grandmother is actually 100 years old.
"I kept her in my mind while making this because she is not eating any solid foods anymore, so this is something that she would enjoy," she added to her emotional description.
The heart and soul she poured into it clearly shined through, and all of the judges thoroughly complimented her dish.
While it's clear that the MasterChef: Legends judges are big fans of Suu's dessert, only time will tell how well it holds up against the other competitors and their own unique dishes and accompanying backstories.
Catch new episodes of MasterChef: Legends airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.