5 food personalities Malaysians turned to during the pandemic

  • TV Premium
  • Thursday, 23 Jul 2020

Hong Kong-based Japanese YouTuber iChang RM craved so much for the bowl of asap laksa they once tried in Malaysia, they recreated the dish using ingredients they could find in Hong Kong. Photo: iChang RM/YouTube

With the closure of some of our favourite local eateries and restaurants especially during the earlier phases of the movement control order (MCO), Malaysians, some who may have never stepped foot in the kitchen before, found themselves looking up recipes online to satisfy their cravings for local dishes.

We found respite in food personalities on social media, who held our hands through the entire cooking process, their voices offering clear, simple instructions as well as reassurance.

Here are five online food personalities who showed us that the kitchen need not be intimidating.

iChang RM

Couple iChang and Jimmy may not be Malaysians but their love for Malaysian cuisine deserves to be celebrated with a spot on this list.

The Hong Kong-based Japanese YouTubers fell in love with all things Malaysia after spending their holiday in the country multiple times.

Unable to travel to Malaysia when the pandemic struck, the couple went to great lengths to recreate dishes they've tried during their trips here.

In one video, the couple longed so much for a bowl of asam laksa, particularly the one they sampled at the Air Itam market in Penang, they set out to make the dish from scratch using whatever ingredients they were able to find in Hong Kong.

Unable to find the all-important prawn paste (hei ko), they decided to make their own, buying fresh prawns just so they could collect its shells - the building blocks of the condiment.

If that's not commitment, I don't know what is.

Sugu Pavithra

You don't need fancy kitchenware, a well-lit studio and stylishly-edited content to appeal to viewers. In fact, the absence of these elements was perhaps what drew some 700,000 people in just a matter of months to subscribe to YouTube channel Sugu Pavithra, comprising husband and wife team – M. Sugu, an estate worker, and S. Pavithra, a housewife.

Armed with just one wok, a spatula and two pots, Pavithra, whips up an array of Malaysian dishes (she had us at kangkung belacan) from their simple kitchen at their Sungai Siput, Perak home.

Pavithra, who primarily does the cooking, exudes an earnestness and sincerity each time she guides viewers in her fluent Bahasa Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Sugu helps capture footage with a phone camera. Unfortunately, he is currently being investigated for allegedly hitting Pavithra.

According to sources, the dispute is believed to be because Pavithra didn't mention his name when receiving an award on July 20.

Anis Nabilah

Celebrity chef Anis Nabilah has gone from cooking on TV to cooking on IGTV when the pandemic hit.

The 34-year-old has been upping her cooking tutorial videos on her Instagram account (@anisnabilah) recently.

Anis, who has helmed various local and international cooking shows, walks her nearly 300,000 Instagram followers through a recipe with the same level of charisma and stage presence she brings to her TV programmes.

What's refreshing is being able to see the usually glammed up chef go from cooking in a studio to cooking in her private kitchen space and clad in a simple T-shirt instead, offering fans a more personal side to her.

Khairul Aming

Khairul Aming doesn't just put up recipes, he puts up works of art.

Each video posted on his 2.6 million followers-strong Instagram account (@khairulaming) are so beautifully-made, they deserve to be watched again and again. (With an average of two million views per video, many probably do.)

The recipe videos only span a minute each – yes, even notoriously difficult recipes like rendang – but they pack a punch.

The mechanical engineering graduate combines arresting visuals with a humour-laden script, delivered with perfect comedic timing.

Khairul's videos have gotten so much buzz even celebrities like Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza joined in the fun and narrated a no-bake cheesecake recipe.

Danish Harraz

Danish Harraz runs a successful online cooking and baking business – Danish's Red Kitchen – and commands some 220,000 Instagram followers (@danish.harraz) and 67,000 Facebook Page likes.

And get this – he is only 13. The self-taught chef began posting cooking videos on Instagram in 2013 (when he was only six!) and hasn't looked back since.

Danish accompanies each video with a caption detailing the exact measurement for each ingredient as well as tips to address potential problems his followers might encounter.

"I never share incomplete, complicated or tasteless recipes as I don't want my followers spend a lot of time, money and effort just to fail," he says in a previous interview with The Star.

The MCO has only inspired the teen to make more of these tutorial videos. On top of that, Danish helped some 100 families during the pandemic, giving out bags of groceries and preparing meals to the underprivileged.

His efforts was featured on BBC My World, a web series executive produced by Angelina Jolie.

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