Who is your favourite chef in the whole wide world?
I am sure you have one.
I am no food critic, nor am I qualified to be one.
But to me, a good chef should fit a stringent set of criteria.
Let me describe my favourite chef and the set she owns.
Through one of her pièce de résistance, the Nasi Lemak.
* Individuality *
An ability to distinguish oneself from the mainstream yet maintaining a high level of taste that impresses tastebuds of many.
* Nutritionist *
Nutritious food need not always be boring. Think silky smooth steamed eggplants/okra, sweet/sour ripe pineapple pieces and crunchy, cooling cucumber cuts. And tell me you are not salivating already.
* Creativity *
Manipulation of the abundance of flavours, textures and scents. Addition of crispy salted fish to an already tantalizing ensemble. Exudation of a mild, appetising aroma. Stimulation of the senses.
* Perfectionistic *
An enhancement that distinguishes the inspired from the required. Like the use of smaller, crunchy anchovies for a more subtle flavour and refined texture. Not forgetting peanuts. Roasted.
* Holistic *
Completing completeness. A side meat to fill the missing gap between the fluffy brown rice and a rich sauce/sambal that comes in form of turmeric powder-marinated fried kampung (free range) chicken.
* Attitude *
Best represented by a bowl of spicy, real spicy sambal. Accessorized by a combustion of tang from the tamarind slices & juice, sweetness & crunch from the onions, savouriness of the anchovies and fragrance of the torch ginger bud (bunga kantan). Fiery and leaves one sweating buckets and teary-eyed. Move along now, Spice Girls.
* Passion & Dedication *
The urge to achieve the ultimate culinary experience. To create a dish of utmost satisfaction. Like a plate of perfect nasi lemak.
* TLC *
Like creating this feast for her family on the day of her own celebration. A celebration of overpriced carnations, overcrowded restaurants and overhyped perfumes. "Things are getting expensive. And you'll never know what kinda food they’ve stocked up for the weekend crowd. Especially this weekend". (An educationist as well).
For all the criteria mentioned above (and a prized possession of -10 Michelin stars), she is absolutely my favourite chef of all time. And I am ever grateful for that.
I am sure many of you will agree.
Before you start calling me Si Tenggang or Anti-Confucianism for allowing my favourite chef to heave over dinner last Sunday night, I should mention that I did take her out for dim sum that particular morning. And her comment on the food? !@#$#%&;;%! I don't call her my Gordon Ramsay for nothing.