When did you start cooking? Who got you started in this art?
As a teen, my way to combat my father's Sunday rubber chicken. My aunt Kathy was the one who got us started in cooking. She learned to cook by reading books and we used to experiment together.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?
I would love to cook full time, however this is more of a hobby right now. My mother's family owned restaurants in Singapore and she is the executive chef. Never thought I would follow my mother's footstep
Is there a website or blog where we can see something about you and your cooking?
What culinary training have you received? Where have you learned more, in class or by experimenting?
I am a home cook. A lot of reading, learn things here and there from my professional chef mother and mainly by experimenting. I am a non-conventional free soul.
How and where did you get your first job as a professional cook?
My first cooking job was actually teaching at a community school. I just moved to Minneapolis and I thought it was a good way to make friends. My life got too crazy and I stopped teaching for a long time. I started catering for my yoga teacher for her retreats a few years ago. Some of my fellow yogi friends wanted to know more about my style of cooking, I started teaching at in home cooking parties. It's a lot of fun! I still also started doing some weekly prep at my clients' home. I make a few meals for them and have it all ready for reheat or simple assembling. Taking some stress out of weekday meals.
How would you define your style?
Island inspired fusion cooking, healthy living with flavors from around the world. I am a global islander, my cooking reflects my lifestyle and upbringing. My cooking is multi-cultural, Chinese, Nonya, a bit of Indonesia, part Hawaiian, a touch of India, some old world English, all blended into my daily American life.
Do you select and buy the ingredients yourself? Where?
Yes. I believe in buying local, organic and substainable. Local co-op and farmers markets are my favorite spots.
What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?
Ginger, very versatile. Can be savory or sweet. A great go-to spice for island cooking to Asian and Indian.
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
Island inspired vegan rice pudding. Taking the traditional India Kheer and merge it with flavor of the Pacific Islands. I also made it vegan
What is your favorite cooking gadget?
My silicone spoon. Simple tool, just love it
Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career?
Do you have an funny kitchen incident to share with us?
Too many... I get goofy at times. I will tell you when you come to my class/ cooking, we can cook and talk story.
If you were stranded on a deserted island for one year, what dish would ask to eat after your rescue?
Fried saimin, my comfort food.
If any chef in the world could prepare a meal for you, who would it be?
Men versus women: do they cook differently?
Nope. Both my mother and my uncle used to share the responsibility of being executive chef at our family restaurants, they cooked almost the same way. I think it is more about one's life experience and life style and how those factors affect your style.
Is there something you hate to see when you go to a restaurant as a customer?
Bad customer service. Ruin the meal even before the serve starts.
Do you sometimes find yourself eating junk-food?
Of course. McD fries!
Who cooks in your home?
Tell us about your favorite wines and other drinks to accompany food.
I don't drink, however I like to pair wine with meal, I do this mainly by tasting and the smell. I also believe, there is no rule with beverage pairing, it's all about what you enjoy. I am a H2O no rock person.
What tendencies do you see coming on strong?
Cooking is getting more global, blending the different flavors is so amazing. I look forward to more people begin to enjoy the world. Mixing different cultures is so wonderful. Hmmm, isn't that what we do in Hawaii...
What do you think about molecular gastronomy in terms of introducing chemical elements into dish preparation?
Nope, why mess with nature's beauty? I do everything with my senses: taste, smell, feel, look. I like my dishes being organic, natural and free form.
What new techniques are you interested in learning
Anything you want to teach me. I am there,
What are some of your professional goals for the future?
I hope to move toward doing more catering / teaching in the next few years. I am very busy with my job in fashion/ footwear industry. However cooking is where my heart is. I got such great satisfaction when my clients enjoy my food.
What advice would you give to someone in high school who would like to pursue a culinary career?
Believe in your heart. Get some formal training, it will open doors for you. This is my biggest regret that I refused to go into the culinary career when I was younger.
What would you say to a novice in the kitchen to help them get over their fear of cooking?
Cooking is about experimenting, there is no right or wrong. It's all about you and what you enjoy. Go with something you love and expand from there. Get a few friends together and have fun playing with your food. I will come help you if you want. Email me!