One of the hottest food trending is Malaysian cooking. There is no better person to discuss Malaysian food than Seattle, Washington based Chef, Christina Arokiasamy.
Chef Christina has always been interested in cooking. It started when she was a little girl growing up in Kuala Lumpur, where it was her joy and adventure. Chef Christina’s mother had a make shift kitchen at the back of their home near their real kitchen for her.
Chef Christina has come a long ways since those early days and she now serves as the U.S. Food Ambassador for Malaysia. Chef Christina spearheads the Malaysia Kitchen Program, a project under the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), and gives voice to the accessibility and convenience of the country’s cuisine and products to U.S. consumers. This in-demand talented Chef, author and spice expert shares how she got her start and launched her career as a Chef. Chef Christina’s in-depth knowledge of Malaysian food and spices will lead you on a hunt for the nearest Malaysian cooking class or restaurant.
Q: How did you get your start?
CA: I was born into the fifth generation of spice traders. My earliest memories are of the bustle of Kuala Lumpur's central market, of women shopping accompanied by the whooshing, shimmering colors of their clothes (saris) and the rich aromas of my mother’s hand-mixed masalas. Spices are in my blood. My mother was a spice merchant and my father an Ayurvedic physician. The merchants in central market, my mother's spices and all the food that came out of our home kitchen prepared with love was my life. My food journey took me into the kitchens of Four Seasons Resorts in Bali and Thailand as a professional world class Chef. Today I understand cold and the value of the bright red chilies that warm my frosty evenings - as do the more than 500,000 Americans that have taken my cooking classes. Today food is still a big part of my life as I lead the initiative to introduce Malaysian cuisine to America nationwide as Malaysia’s Ambassador to the US for Malaysia Kitchen USA.
Q: Were you encouraged to become a Chef? Many people originally thought that it was a man’s job.
CA: I am passionate about flavors. I love the aroma and taste of fresh produce and my mind is always thinking of creating new dishes. I could easily drift away into the world of food especially Malaysian cuisine with natural herbs and spices. Creativity and talent has no agenda neither is it a man’s job in my opinion.
Q: What are the basics of Malaysian cooking?
CA: Spices and sauces are the basics of Malaysian cooking. We put bright red chilies, coriander, green cardamom seeds and aromatics like galangal, lemongrass, and ginger in our dishes, as such the food has a citrus yet robust flavor and totally aromatic. It’s basically borrowing and sharing of ingredients of the Malay, Indian and Chinese kitchen. It's a cuisine that a survey from the NRA (National Restaurant Association) has listed among the top three trending flavors for 2014.
Q: Any plans for a second cookbook coming out?
CA: Yes, I am already working on my second cookbook that will bring the health value to readers and cooks.
Q: Any plans to open a restaurant like many Chefs or expand your cooking classes to Los Angeles?
CA: That would be wonderful and hopefully someday soon.
Q: How do you become a Food Ambassador? It seems very interesting and exciting.
CA: I wrote a book called “The Spice Merchant’s Daughter,” which was voted as one of the top 10 cookbooks by NPR (National Public Radio) in America. Starting grass root my cooking classes has allowed over 500,000 foodies to journey to Malaysian food in their palate, I have contributed my creativity and Chef skills to the kitchens of the Four Seasons Resorts in Bali and Thailand. I understand the way Americans approach food; at the same time I am Malaysian born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. The role of an Asian food ambassador is something I have been unofficially carrying out for the last 20 years in America.
I was sent an invitation to apply for the official appointment of Malaysia’s Food Ambassador to the U.S. for Malaysia Kitchen. I did so and enlisted qualifications and decades of experience I have passionately enjoyed.
Now in this official capacity by MATRADE you will see me promoting Malaysia’s food and food products ported into America. I am continuing this passion that I hold close as I am on a mission to bring Malaysian food into every American home. People already love the layers of flavor and the convenience with our food products all in a healthy way.
For information on Chef Christina Arokiasamy’s appearances, book launches, attend her Seattle cooking school, learn about Malaysian cooking or to purchase an instructional DVD visit Malaysia Kitchen US.