Interview with Karen Nah, founder of My Singapore Food
Posted by alexa | June 2, 2015
“There’s no food with as much depth as home-cooked food.”
~ Karen Nah, Founder of My Singapore Food
Karen, the founder of My Singapore Food, proudly declares herself an advocate for home-cooking and the preservation of family heirloom recipes. We bring you up close and personal to the lady on a mission to bring heritage home-cooked food back on everyone’s dining table.
Tell us about yourself and your passion.
If I can summarize my passion in one word, it has got to be food. My mum plays a big part in fuelling this excitement for all things culinary ever since I was a child. She is constantly innovating and exploring different ways of cooking in our home kitchen. The result of her experimentation and creativity was plates and plates of amazing home cooked meals everyday for our family, which in turn stirred up my burning desire and enthusiasm to present food in the most delectable way to the world.
Inspired by my mum’s ingenuity, I’m constantly stimulated with fresh ideas. I started Rolleyes in 2013 with the vision to present food in the most delectable way to the world. Since then, Rolleyes have been churning out cooking recipes in interesting and engaging styles, including thematic cooking programmes such as 30 Minute Cookin’ (www.30minutecookin.com) and My Singapore Food.
Share with us your inspiration for My Singapore Food.
My inspiration for My Singapore Food is almost everyone around me. I’ve always had my meals at home, but I realised that for most of my friends, eating out, to them, is the norm. Having home-cooked meals is becoming so rare that it is almost a big affair each time it happens.
For Singaporeans, a nation of food lovers, with so many diverse cultures and stories that are behind each home-cooked recipe, it was a great shame to see our authentic home-cooked dishes disappearing. In fact, most people I know love home-cooked food, but the effort that they think they need to invest in cooking the food has put them off the idea.
Heritage home-cook recipes are particularly important as they are part of our history, which plays a big part in who we are today. They are not just food that we grew up with, but also our connection to our past and life story. No other food in the world has as much depth and stories linked to it as home-cooked food.
Even though we may not be able to go back in time (unless someone has built a time machine already!), we can reminisce through food and share their stories with the next generation. So I started My Singapore Food to advocate the importance of home-cooking and recording the stories behind the precious recipes, so that we can be always be reminded of our heritage.
Share with us your favourite moments on the journey of My Singapore Food.
On this journey, I am very grateful to have met many inspiring Singaporeans, who are very enthusiastic to share their heartwarming stories and delicious recipes. They have been supportive in making this dream a reality, because they are as passionate as us in wanting to retain their precious recipes so that they could pass them down to the future generations.
One contributor was an eighty-plus-year-old Ah Ma, who shared her Teochew Soon Kueh recipe. When we arrived at her house for filming in the morning, she had already prepared one lot of Soon Kueh. The moment we stepped in, she served us one plate each and said that before we started work, we had to taste her Soon Kueh first – it was her family tradition. We were very touched as this old grand dame woke up in the wee hours to prepare her Soon Kueh for us even though we were strangers to her.
We also have stories of neighbourliness. Differences in age, race and religion surpassed the love and friendship between the two families, who used to live next to each other. Even after moving apart, they still kept in touch by inviting each other over for a hearty feast of home-cooked food. It is this kind of kampong spirit that we want to preserve in Singapore.
Can you share your wish for Singapore’s 50th birthday?
I hope that through My Singapore Food, we will preserve the Singaporean’s food legacy, heritage and community spirit that are strengthened through home-cooked food. In another 50 years, these heritage recipes will still be served piping hot on every Singaporean’s dining table.