Cook-out Day at BookFest@Malaysia is always a crowd favourite – after all, which homecook wouldn’t want to spend an entire day learning valuable tips from the more experienced?
The country’s largest book exposition, which begins on Saturday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, always brings together books and chefs for this one special day during its run, giving foodies the chance to buy a wide range of cookbooks as well as learn about diverse cuisines.
This year, with BookFest beginning this Hari Raya weekend, Cook-Out Day on June 29 will kick off at 11am with a Hari Raya open house, which will be followed by cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs Fazalina Ismail, Nozailina Nordin, and Zubaidah Che Pa.
Then settle in for the rest of the day for a whirlwind of activity on the stove with Aaron Chen and Yang Lee Keong, Ricky Ng, Clare Ngan, Chan Bee Sim and Pearly Kee.
Here’s a quick introduction to the chefs who will be guiding you on your gastronomical journey at BookFest@Malaysia.
Fazalina Ismail, Norzailina Nordin and Zubaidah Che Pa at 11am – The day will kick off on a strong note with these three chefs who are well-known in local culinary circles.
If you need pointers on pastry-making, look no further than Zubaidah, who has written several bilingual pastry cookbooks, such as 101 Resipi Biskut Klasik, Aneka Jenis Biskut Raya, Biskut Tradisional, Aneka 40 Jenis Kek Kukus, and Jamuan Biskut.
While Fazalina knows her way around a variety of dishes, her true gastronomical love can be traced back to the tender age of 12 when she discovered the joys of pie-making.
And with more than 60 books to her name, both cookbooks as well as novels, you can be sure Norzailina has plenty to say about what goes on in the kitchen! She was also co-host, with Cay Kuijpers, of reality TV show Bake & Sell.
Aaron Chen and Yang Lee Keong, 1pm – The hosts of TV cooking show 2 Dudes And A Kitchen will be on hand to show the audience their take on that Italian classic: a pesto pasta dish.
Chen’s passion for cooking began when he went abroad to pursue his studies and started experimenting with his mother’s recipes; Yang (or Lee, as he is better known), too, nurtured his culinary love in local food markets in the United States where he studied.
Today, the duo hold down “regular” jobs – one is a recruiter while the other runs his family property and retail business – but find time to cook for family and friends, and yes, even get a book out together (which goes by the same name as their cooking show and is published by MPH Group Publishing).
L.J. Loo, 2pm – Melaka-born Hainanese foodie L.J. Loo (popularly nicknamed “Hunter”) was already in the kitchen when he was just 10 years old, watching his mum cook and even lending a hand to light the charcoal stove. Some of his best childhood memories are of taking over the kitchen when mum left momentarily to answer phone calls! Ever since then, he has been fascinated by experimenting with ingredients to create the food of his childhood.
While his day job involves graphic design and photography, almost every other minute of his time is spent on his passion for cooking speciality Hainanese dishes. He is eager to spread awareness of this type of cuisine, appearing on TV show Comfort Food Recipes and sharing recipes and detailed tips on his Facebook page (facebook.com/ljloo68) as well as through his book, Truly Hainanese Delights (Seashore Publishing).
Clare Ngan, 3pm – Growing up in a small town in Negri Sembilan, Ngan, the youngest in a family of eight, was tasked with buying ingredients from the market for her parents’ kopitiam business as well as for family meals each day.
In running his kopitiam business, her father never skimped on quality and insisted on only the freshest ingredients, making quite an impression on the young Ngan.
When she moved with her siblings to Kuala Lumpur, she was the designated chef, whipping up delicious meals in the kitchen of the rented flat they shared.
Today, she has a huge collection of recipe books, and has started selling some of her food products, like vegetarian goose and chilli sauce.
Ngan is the author of Reunion Recipes (Seashore Publishing) and Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes (Seashore Publishing), among other books.
Chan Bee Sim, 4pm – Currently working on her fourth bilingual cookbook, Intelligent Electronic Pressure Cooker Volume 4, Chan is a familiar face on local TV, a recent appearance being in an episode of Comfort Food Recipe.
She ran a baking ingredients shop, Ezymix Ingredients House, for over 15 years and is a guest writer for many publications, including newspapers Sin Chew and Guang Ming Daily, and Yum Yum magazine.
She has dedicated the last few years to perfecting recipes for her electronic pressure cooker books, but before that, published books on kuih-muih, pasar malam snacks, and other street food.
Pearly Kee, 5pm – Kee is a fifth-generation Penang nonya who is a full-time cooking teacher and travel guide; she is also an award-winning author.
Aside from cooking classes, which attract students from all walks of life, she hosts a supper club in her home, where guests get to sample nonya favourites in a relaxed setting.
Growing up in a traditional nonya kitchen, Kee honed her skills under the watchful eye of mentor Lim Bian Yam, one of Malaysia’s master chefs.
Kee is keen to share culinary secrets and traditions that have been passed down the generations, her enthusiasm reflected in A Nyonya Inheritance (Clarity Publishing) and Pearly’s Nyonya Pantry (Clarity Publishing), which won the Gourmand International award for Best Chinese Cookbook.
BookFest@Malaysia 2017 will be on daily, from 10am to 10pm, from June 24 to July 2 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Admission is with purchase of the BookFest catalogue at RM2.50 per entry or RM10 for multiple entries over the nine days. Catalogues are available at all Popular and Harris bookstore outlets nationwide and will also be sold at the event’s entrance. Entrance is free for students who are 18 years old and below and for senior citizens aged 60 and above. For more information, visit facebook.com/BookFestMalaysia. Star Media Group is a media partner of BookFest@Malaysia 2017.
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