How did this all start?
I’ve always loved food and grew up around food with my family. My parent’s love language is food and are always feeding me and everyone around them no matter what, whether it’s a celebration, commiseration or a simple family dinner. They used to make me responsible for a portion of dinner as a child. Originally it was as simple as cooking the rice or cleaning the vegetables and then as a teenager, I became responsible for cooking at least one dinner each week.
Much like most kids who are strong-armed into doing something they don’t want to by their parents, I used to hate it and considered it on par with child labour. I didn’t truly appreciate the skill they taught me until I moved out with my now-husband, who can’t even operate a toaster haha! Once I started cooking for myself, I realised how lucky I was that they took the time to teach me those skills as a kid.
From there, I started recreating all my parent’s dishes that they taught me but also became inspired by other chefs and curious by other culture’s cuisines, so began trialling recipes I’d see in books and online. However, I’d always get frustrated because the cookbooks would only ever show you what the finished dish looked like and you were forced to figure out all the steps and process on your own just by reading some words and sometimes not even knowing the rationale for what you’re doing.
A few years ago, I started sharing some of my meals on my Instagram and after receiving questions from friends and colleagues on how I made certain dishes, I finally started documenting the process and sharing it to all of my followers. Now I’m sharing at least a new recipe each week and it’s been so rewarding to see so many people love the content and recreate some of my recipes.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I’d describe it as approachable, comforting and delicious. My recipes are all meals that make me feel happy as I prepare and eat them. They’re dishes that I love cooking for my friends and family.
You’re going to see a generous amount of Italian food, especially pasta (in a past life I may have been Italian), some familiar and unfamiliar Vietnamese dishes (that I’ve learnt from my parents) and some classic and iconic dishes that I feel every home cook wants or should know how to make. You’re going to see recipes with butter or oil (or both), some with copious amounts of cheese because if you’re going to take the time to cook something, you better make it worth it. Don’t skip out on certain ingredients or steps, make it delicious and make yourself happy in the process.
What’s your advice for ‘bad cooks’?
I don’t believe there is such a thing and I challenge the self-proclaimed ‘bad cooks’ to try one of my recipes. I’m confident I can make them a better cook and they’ll surprise themselves in the process.
Being a good cook is not something you are born with, it’s a skill and the perfect example is my mum who was a terrible cook when she was younger and first met my father. So much so that he refused to eat her cooking initially haha! But over the years, she taught herself via friends and recipe books and improved her skills to the point where I think she’s is one of the most amazing home cooks I know. A lot of what you see in my cooking is the influence of my mum. So if my mum can do it, so can you!
How are you coping with COVID-19?
As well as I can. Everyone around me including myself has been affected by it somehow medically, financially or emotionally, so it’s hard to not let it all get to you sometimes. The self-isolation can be difficult too because I miss having friends and family over for dinner and being able to connect face to face. But personally, I’m trying to see this time as an opportunity to reset and reflect on what I want to be doing. I now have more time to pursue my passions and all the things I’ve wanted to do so I’m pretty grateful for that.
Does your cooking help you escape the craziness and stress of COVID-19?
For sure, but I’ve always loved cooking and used it as my therapy even before this year.
I find it really mindful as it allows me to be present and focused on a task which for most of the time, ends up being a delicious success that I then get to enjoy (except for a few times that shall not be named). There’s a big satisfaction and endorphin rush (almost similar to what I get after I’ve gone for a run), that I get from conquering a really difficult recipe or nailing a dish I’ve wanted to since forever. Then there’s another satisfaction in enjoying it and seeing others enjoy it. I guess this comes full circle and now I’ve inadvertently turned into my parents after all! Thanks Mum and Dad. x