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five questions with Alvin Quah

August 30, 2013
photograph by James Demitri

photograph by James Demitri

 

Meet Alvin Quah.

 

Animated, witty and approachable… well, after he’s had his first cup of coffee at least.

I first met Alvin via my parents’ television screen (though he knew nothing about me at the time), watching his highs and occasional lows on Masterchef Australia in 2010. It was the Malaysian recipes that hooked me then, dishes I’d eaten off hurriedly put together plates whilst growing up were transformed into fancy, beautiful plates of almost-familiarity on my screen. And behind each one, Alvin grinning from ear to ear and talking about his grandma in a way that had me wanting to give mine a ring on the telephone.

Two years later, I looked up over the rim of my (very strong) mug of tea to see a very familiar face walk into the Harris Farm Offices just a little bit before dawn. We were both a bit bleary eyed, but pepped up as we dodged forklifts, skitted around crates and sampled figs until the sun was well and truly up. We left with hallucinogenically spicy chillies in hand and a ridiculous number of crazy-eyed photos.

So it made sense, to me at least, that I should kick off my every-once-in-a-while series of “Five questions with…” various food personalities, producers and chefs around Australia by introducing you to the very contagious, slightly quirky (and a little bit naughty) Alvin Quah.

 

And here’s what we asked him…

 

1. What was your favourite meal to eat as a child, and do you still eat it today?

I am a sucker for pork. Bacon, ham, pork belly, basically pork cooked once, twice, slow, fast, you name it, I love it. My family use to call me “pork face” in Hokkien as a term of endearment. And yes, I still eat it today!

2. When you moved from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne, what was the food or ingredient you most missed? And how did you cope?

I miss Nyonya kuihs the most. Back home, it was readily available and with mum and her relatives being Nyonya, they would make it on a weekly basis. I tried to learn how to make them when I first moved to Melbourne and it took several goes (and overseas phone calls) to get it right.

3. What is the one item in your kitchen you absolutely cannot do without and why?

This is going to sound like racial profiling but I cannot live without my mortar and pestle. I love pounding raw spices and on a bad day, it feels good as a vent for all your frustrations.

4. What is your secret to holding a successful dinner party?

Planning and knowing your limits. No one likes a show-off so one of your meals can always be store-bought. Most desserts take a long time to cook so I always buy dessert. That way, you get to spend more time perfecting your entrees, mains and look after the little details like table setting and dinner music.

5. If you’re home alone, and there’s no-one to judge, what’s your guilty good-enough-for-dinner-tonight secret?

A bowl of congee with canned fried dace with black beans. It hits the spot every time!

 

If you’d like to see Alvin in the flesh (as I did when I ran into him the other week), head over to:

  • Sydney Markets (Parklea and Paddy’s) where he does cooking demonstrations every Sunday (on alternating weeks, of course. Man can’t be in two places at once!)
  • Masterchef Dining (where he’ll be popping up every now and then); or
  • Cabramatta Moon Festival on 15 September 2013, where he’ll be doing a demonstration.

(And make sure you say hi from us at onebitemore!)

PS! Onebitemore has been named as a finalist in the Pedestrian TV Ultrabook Blogster Awards! Yahoo! If you’d like to throw a “LIKE” my way, head through to the voting page & click next to the “YEAH BLOG”


Shez