After the first season of Food Hero, her name keeps rising to popularity. Yes, she is Michele Lean, one of the winners of the program. She is known for her passion in culinary world. Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on September 1st of 1982, Lean spent most of her early life in the Capital City of Malaysia, Borneo, Melbourne, and Hong Kong. It is even difficult for her to answer the question, “We are you from?” since she considers them all her homes.
A passionate traveler, beach and marine life lover, Travelfore fortunately make a in depth interview with the woman with full name Michele Yi Wen Samantha Lean.
Here, Michele shares her insight about foods and cultures, discusses Food Wars Asia and offers advice on how to make the most of your culinary adventure. Read on:
Would you please share about your program Food Wars and how it differs to other food TV shows?
“There are cooking programs, there are eating shows and then, there’s Food Wars! I’ll take you with me on a journey where you’ll get to experience cooking and the eating in two different kitchens that serve the same dish. Together, we’ll meet the owners, the fans and wait in suspense while the panel of judges decide which of the two locations serves it best in a blind fold taste test.”
When you travel around the world, what are the basic differences between Asian and Western food?
“I’d have to say the usage of spices. It is very much dependent on the geography, culture and history of the country. Even within a country, you’ll find differences in the food just going from north-south or east-west.”
You have ever visit Indonesia. What is your favourite Indonesian foods? Please explain why?
“Kek Lapis. I love kek lapis. It always fascinates me how each layer alternates between light & dark so consistently. I’ve even gone through the trouble of googling ‘best kek lapis in Jakarta’ before a layover, called the baker and ordered it a few days before my flight and had it delivered to me just before my connecting flight. I took a 2 kg kek lapis with me on my travels and ate some every day.”
In your opinion, is there any correlation between food and culture?
“Definitely. I’ve always firmly believed that no matter how many sites you visit or how much time you spend in a country, you’ve never really experienced a place’s true culture until you’ve eaten local food from places frequented by locals. Unlike language, eating and food is universal. It gives us a better understanding of a country’s culture without the language barriers.”
What are heritage foods that have been cooked since thousand years ago?
“Haha…in 1015? I suppose something with meat and vegetables – depending on where in the world you were at the time. Definitely no fast or processed food.”
How can a food considered has good taste in your opinion?
“Taste is very subjective but in my opinion, balance is key. The right balance of spice, textures and flavour is what I look for. And soul – the best food is cooked by a cook who cares.”
You’ve stay for long time in Malaysia, Singapore and China. According to you, what country which has the most culinary richness?
“I’ve actually lived in Malaysia, Australia and China the longest and all of these places have a rich and diverse culinary heritage. To pick one would be like asking me to tell you which of my two sisters was my favourite – impossible. 😀 ”
When did you start to cook and what food was being your first cooking?
“The first thing I ever made on my own was an omelete. I was 7 or 8 and wanted to make that for my dad because he loves eggs. Before that, my sisters and I always put together Mother’s Day breakfast for my mum but if I remember correctly, it was mostly made up of juice and cereal or sandwiches.”
Who influenced you to love cooking?
“My mum and my grandmother. They are fantastic cooks, love experimenting with different cuisines and they would always involve us. My sisters and I would watch and they’d teach us by getting us to help out with tasks that became increasingly more difficult as we grew more experienced in the kitchen.”
Have you ever learn cook formally?
“Yes, I trained in traditional French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa.”
Besides cooking and acting, what are your activities?
“I love scuba diving, yoga and I’d like to start longboarding soon. And travel – I travel a lot. I’m addicted to travelling and new experiences but I also love revisiting countries and getting to know them better.”
Have a plan to open a restaurant someday?
“Let’s see! 😀 Time will tell. I love food concepts and if the right opportunity comes along, I’d definitely pursue it.”
What is your next goal for culinary industry?
“I’d like to challenge the misconceptions that people have about food and get people to try things they wouldn’t normally eat or say they don’t like without actually having tried it.”
Have a plan to be a business woman that not in culinary industry?
“Up till now, I’ve dedicated my career to involve food and travel (my two greatest passions) and plan to continue to do so. Even if I were to go into a different industry, I imagine it will always encompass some form of travel and food.”
Please share your advices for them who interested in being chef?
“Experiment, keep learning and try EVERYTHING – unless you’re allergic to it, then stay clear. J Find a mentor, a school or a restaurant you like and absorb all the knowledge you can. Also, I suggest working out. It helps to build stamina in the kitchen.”
Food Wars Asia
Premieres on Food Network, Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 8.00pm (7.00PM JKT/TH)
Food Hero Michele Lean, travel lover and passionate about all things food, sets out to find the most celebrated dishes in Singapore and Malaysia, food that defines destinations and create local rivalries spanning generations. From Singapore’s famous Fishball Noodles to Malaysia’s Nasi Lemak, Food Wars Asia pits nation’s most famous culinary rivals against one another for a final showdown, where a blind taste test will settle the debate once and for all on who makes the best dish in town.
Want to participate Food War TV Show?
Know two great places in your country that’s serving the same dish and you can’t decide who’s best? Leave your comments on www.facebook.com/foodnetworkasia!
Visit www.foodnetworkasia.com for more information.
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