NOT a food blog
Go on. Ask me.
This man, with his insightful writings, made me laugh. His book made me yelp, “Oh ya hor….that’s ME!”
Why would I not want to meet this man?
I am guilty of hero worship. And there have been many heroes over the years.
Go on. Ask me.
Why did I jump up and down when I was asked if I’d like to meet Singaporean Hian Goh and Briton Maria Brown, the founders of my favourite channel on Astro, the Asian Food Channel (AFC)?
When Astro converted the system to a 3-digit numbering, the numbers 7-0-3 were the only numbers I bothered memorising. That’s how much I loved it. So when I was presented the opportunity to meet the people behind my favourite channel, it made perfect sense to say Yes, Yes, Yes!
Of course I stammered in their presence. With profiles that included the words investment banker, Chief Financial Officer, creative technology, venture capital, Oxford, television producer, BBC and Saddam Hussein, it’s a good thing I didn’t faint in their presence as carrying my limp body isn’t the easiest thing to do.
It takes balls to do what these guys did. Hian’s friendship with Maria began in New York, and four years later, they met up in Singapore. It was 2003. The television industry was in need of a new and innovative channel, and coincidentally, there was no food channel in Asia at that time, so it made perfect sense to set up one. It was akin to giving birth, and the AFC channel was their baby to nurture and grow.
Perhaps I envy them a little. How many of us have dreams, and how many of these dreams come to fruition? Why is it difficult to take that first step? Fear of the unknown? Fear of failure? Fear of one’s self?
The AFC is probably the only channel that is presented in multiple languages and reflects multiple cultures. From Japanese to Scandinavian and everything in between, it also helps that some of these chefs are visually delectable. Of course, there are the controversial ones. Mum refuses to watch The F Word because Gordon Ramsay uses…well…the F word. “He’s not a very nice man, is he?” she says. Mum prefers Hugh Fearnley and his pigs anytime. But it’s more than celebrity chefs. One learns how a kitchen is run, how restaurants are built and managed, an amazing variety of recipes taught in several languages and the odd profanity or two.
There is a familiar camaraderie between the two. Imagine communicating not only with words but with gestures and glances, all at the same time. But their friendship is more than just pranks and laughter. It is based on honesty and mutual respect. And of course, the occasional fight.
The conversation shifts easily from Hian’s stint as an apprentice in Emmanuel Stroobant’s kitchen (“yes, it is like going to war”) to the cookoff between Hian and Maria (with Maria’s hilarious depiction of a dying woman about to croak out the secret ingredient to her winning chicken dish) to favourite Malaysian foods (Hian: Nasi lemak and satay, Maria: Rendang) to Maria’s rubbing of shoulders with celebrities (Dolly Parton and Joan Collins, no less) to the Big Reveal….the introduction of a “revolutionary kitchen product” (with emphasis on revolutionary…dramatic rolling of the letter R for effect) within the next couple of months, where they would be the only people bringing it to Asia.
We dined at Li Yen at the Ritz Carlton, one of my favourite chinese restaurants in town – I rate their dim sum in the Top 3 category, while their avocado mousse is to die for. Perhaps the ultimate compliment I can pay these two is the fact that I was so caught up in conversation with them that I didn’t remember to take any photograph of the food other than the one here.
Yes, I’ve always had heroes in my life. Someone once told me that I should take charge of the hero in my own life. It starts with that first step. And I’d like to think that blogging has enabled me to do that. Baby steps. But steps, nevertheless.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.