Easier to find fish sauce than belacan: Celeb chef Nik Michael Imran on making Malaysian food famous

The ‘Cooking for Love’ host says while Malaysian food is packed with flavour, it’s not being shared enough on the global stage. — Picture from Instagram/Nik Michael Imran
The ‘Cooking for Love’ host says while Malaysian food is packed with flavour, it’s not being shared enough on the global stage. — Picture from Instagram/Nik Michael Imran

PETALING JAYA, Sept 11 — Chef Nik Michael Imran wants Malaysian culinary talents to band together to bring the country’s food to the global stage.

“Malaysian food is so rich with flavours but the truth is, we keep it too close to ourselves to the point we aren’t sharing it with others,” Nik Michael told Malay publication Kosmo! in an interview.

The 29-year-old chef used the worldwide popularity of Thai food as an example.

“Everyone loves Thai food and it’s easy to find anywhere. For instance, fish sauce is so easy to find but why is it so hard to find our ingredients such as belacan?” he said.

The Cooking for Love host was responding to the debate of professional chefs versus instant celebrity chefs who forged a career using social media.

Having been asked that question many times, Nik Michael said at the end of the day, only the best quality food can win their hearts of people.

“Everyone has their own popularity. Whether it’s delicious or not, that’s all subjective.

“What’s important is we have to come together to support each other. In our industry, we don’t have enough support and it’s also a small industry so let’s stop the negativity,” he said.

Previously in May, Chef Wan, whose real name is Datuk Redzuawan Ismail told off aspiring cooks who were keen to enter the food world to seek more knowledge before branding themselves as celebrity chefs. 

In an interview with BH Online, the 61-year-old culinary icon highlighted the importance of professional skills rather than being good at presenting.

“In Malaysia, it’s a bit weird. Just for the fact that they can cook or interact with the camera, they’ve been called celebrity chefs.

“Which is why on TV, there are these so-called celebrity chefs who put fish in the pan when the oil isn’t even hot. In fact, some of them hold the knife incorrectly,” Chef Wan was quoted as saying.

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