It all started with cancelled travel plans. I was meant to be in Hong Kong to give a keynote speech about Southeast Asian Street Food and Cultural Identity. The coronavirus pandemic put paid to that, at least for the foreseeable future.
Then my weekly Char Kway Teow pop-up stall got cancelled indefinitely — again, courtesy of Covid-19.
I figured, what better time than for me to go back to what I know best, which was live cooking videos? This was something I’d done on various platforms and in various iterations since the early days of live video streaming some 8 years ago.
Within a couple of weeks of the launch of my Lockdown Malaysian Cook-Along series on Facebook, my fellow-Malaysian chef, TV host and award winning cookbook author Norman Musa sent me a message suggesting we collaborate.
Norman as well as my friend Zaleha Olpin of MasterChef UK fame (and author of the brilliantly-titled “My Rendang Isn’t Crispy”) had similarly had their food promotional travel plans thrown for a loop.
In spite of that, they were both keeping busy by engaging their social media audiences with their videos and recipes.
Even though we couldn’t promote Malaysian food in person and our food businesses had taken a hit, we were at least able to share our cooking knowledge via live videos.
So I saw that we were all basically doing the same thing, but we were all doing it alone.
And if you’ve ever been on social media as long as I (and Norman) have, you’ll know that going it alone is a tough slog.
So I figured we should do it together. Norman thought it was a great idea. (Update: Norman left the group towards the end of 2020.)
I started making contact with some of the top names in Malaysian cuisine — people I knew personally, whom I could trust to deliver.