I was eight when I started cooking, teetering on a stool to reach the kerosene stove in front of me. The iron wok felt as heavy as an elephant in my hands; but it didn’t stop me from cooking my first dish -- a sunny side-up.
Like many a foodie, I have since gone through ‘phases’ in the kitchen -- times when I’ve been intrigued and enraptured by Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and so-called ‘fusion’. Each dish I ate, each recipe I cooked, each chef I met; each experience, each memory…stays vivid in the mind. Other people may thumb through a photo album. I reminisce through smells and tastes of food.
Learning to cook wasn’t easy. It took me a very long time to grasp the principles. Only when you truly understand, can you master something. The road ahead is still long for me; but I’m lucky. I have great teachers and friends. They feed my mind with their knowledge and experience, and fill my soul with their life and passions.
The last five years when I lived in Hong Kong and China had been a ‘crash course’: I learned more about traditional Chinese (particularly Cantonese) cooking than I did in my entire life. The people I cooked for, the friends I dined with, were among the cleverest and most discerning gourmands I’ve ever met.
More importantly, I became friends with a coterie of foodies and authors who were dead serious about documenting or otherwise keeping alive Chinese food history. They have inspired me to do likewise, to seek out and record old Chinese recipes and traditions that people -- even chefs -- have forgotten and neglected.
Thanks, Shermay, for the opportunity; for reminding me of the importance of sharing these recipes and techniques. Here I am, putting on a new hat come July, when I begin my teaching classes at Shermay’s Cooking School…
Shermay’s Cooking School
#01-76 Chip Bee Gardens (Holland Village)
Blk 43 Jalan Merah Saga
Tel: +65 6479 8442/6479 8414