Fan favourite and MasterChef judge Melissa Leong had an emotional moment with a contestant while tasting his food on Thursday night.

The chef broke down in tears after having a nostalgic moment over his food.

Eric presented a Chinese dish of tea smoked eggs, cold tofu in spring onion dressing and fried peanuts with seaweed.

Mel, who is usually bubbly and bouncy, became speechless after tasting his food and began blinking back tears in an attempt to collect herself.

“What we have here is an opportunity, with cooking like this on this level, is to tell stories and to share our history,” she said, before her voice cracked.

“I watched Jock plating up and I could smell the smells and I started to really feel it.”

The judge went on to praise his technical skills and the complex flavour balance.

“Starting with the peanuts … It’s just such a Chinese thing no matter where it’s been spread across the world,” she said.

“The egg, the jamminess of the yolk, and then you go on to the cold tofu. There’s such humility in its plainness and its ability to take on flavour.”

She went on to say: “My heart’s beating,” before finishing with: “It’s history. It’s meaning. It’s life.”

Eric became visibly emotional too and wiped away tears of his own.

Mel has a deep connection to food, and says she loves how MasterChef contestants can put their cultural backgrounds on a plate, while in conversation with

“I think what’s really great that we’ve seen in an overwhelming capacity this year is (the contestant’s) ability to present food that speaks to who they are very quickly,” she explained.

They’re all able to express themselves and their perspectives on the plate. To see these home cooks do that with a huge degree of eloquence is very cool to see.

“What surprised me is a real celebration of South Asian, Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine presented with a level of sophistication that Australia really needs to see and pay attention to.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.