This effervescent and big-hearted celebrity chef has done it all. Try saying in one breath: He is the Food ambassador of Malaysia, Resident chef at Asian Food Channel, author of eight cookbooks which have won three international awards, and Best Supporting Actor nominee at the 13th Asian Film Festival for Valley of Vengeance.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m going crazy. I’m saturated with so many things, all happening at once.
What were you like as a child?
I was hyperactive. I loved fashion, gardening, cooking, acting and even marketing, as I learned when selling my mother’s nonya kuehs (sweet Peranakan delicacies) at the market.
What inspires you?
I need very little to be inspired. For me, inspiration is everywhere.
What personal trait do you appreciate the most in others?
I always admire people who project the truth—good or bad. I hate hypocrisy. Sometimes people try too hard to be someone they are not. I always believe we must come to terms with ourselves. You are what you are.
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Quran. I’m learning and understanding its content. I find the teachings fascinating because they help you a lot spiritually.
How do you spend your Sunday mornings?
I don’t have a lot of Sundays to myself. But when I do, I normally just stay at home, read the papers and do some gardening.
What is your idea of hell?
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’ve been in hell. I have a very high tolerance level, I can put up with a lot of nonsense.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Chocolate and cheese.
Is there something about you that scares others?
My mouth, because I am very straightforward.
How do you recharge?
Getaways. I go away and do absolutely nothing.
Where in the world would you most like to live in?
What’s playing on your iPod/MP3 player at the moment?
I don’t have an Ipod. I know nothing about all these computers. But I love jazz and classical music. I guess it’s just the romantic in me.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Fashion to me is whatever you feel comfortable in. I get attracted to colors—red is my favorite. Basically, I’m a very flamboyant person.
Which accessories set you apart?
My Chopard necklaces.
What role would you most like to play in a movie and why?
A porn star. Just kidding. But seriously, I would like to play a drag queen, because it’s such a challenging role. And there are a lot of stories to tell about their world, stories that people don’t usually want to talk about.
Do you have a cause or support one?
I do a lot of charity work like helping disabled children and supporting the Islamic Outreach Fund. I always believe that the hand that gives is better than the hand that receives. If you can put a smile on someone’s face, why not?
Which person do you admire the most?
My mother. She is such a patient and giving person. All that I am comes from her.
What belief have you carried with you since you were 18?
When I was 18 I believed in sharing; whatever I had I shared. And I still do. I am still the same person. What you see is what you get. I can’t change.