You heard it from us. Malaysia is the next destination for avid foodies the world over. It not only has some of the most exciting street food and eateries but a vibrant food culture. This is a country where a first greeting is not “How are you?” but “Have you eaten?”
When we were coming up with the show, we knew we wanted something that would appeal to the foodie in everyone of us. So not just a show that tells you where to eat the good stuff but also in our way play tribute to the people behind the food. We always maintain that the food is the real hosts of the show and our gastro-explorers are simply there to facilitate and titillate. They are our tastebuds on the ground so to speak.
Therefore, camerawork is agile and able to get close to the food. Viewers will be treated to a front seat point of view of the food being cooked and prepared. The show will be packed with short interviews, tips on eating and information on the dishes eaten.
For the first season we wanted to do the food destinations of Penang and Malacca as well as a little bit of KL. And not forgetting our cousins in the East, Kuching was voted in since they have such strong identifiable dishes like Sarawak laksa and mee kolok. We went for intensive recces, met up with the restaurateurs and hawkers, reconnected with old ‘makan kakis’ and ate a lot of good stuff! This we think is always the best part of research.
For hosts we knew we needed true foodies and not just that, they need to have a combination of passion for street food but also a childish delight in eating, discovering and rediscovering food. They should be able to take audiences on the journey with then, on the road and on the plate. First round of auditions took place in a fish head curry eatery in Bangsar, seriously some of them wanted to eat with fork and spoon (apa ni? Malaysian celup!) While one of them commented that his mum actually takes out the bones for him (manja nye…)
But we got Aly, who is a killer combo of good looks but with a down to earth charm that made all the male restaurateurs go all aflutter when she interviews them. And to partner her up, we dragged Riz out of retirement since no else we know can demolish a fish head down to its eyeballs and has an almost visceral presence when he eats- the world stops and it’s just him and that plate of nasi kandar.
Frankly we can’t wait for Season 2!
A Brief on Malaysia’s Cuisine Background
Malaysia, an entrepot in the 15th century and a center of the spice trade meant that much of its cuisine is not only spicy but redolent with herbs and pungency of Southeast Asian ingredients. The pouring in of Chinese and Indian Diasporas and those of the Malay Archipelago ensured that cooking traditions from all these cultures took
root and evolved into exciting new cuisines from inter-marriages and ingredient exchanges.
Thus, Malaysia does not only have a well developed Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine but also unique hybrid food cultures of Nyonya (intermarriage of Malay and Chinese traditions) and Eurasian which stemmed from our colonial period that spanned some 400 years.
As early as the mid 19th century, many home cooks started selling food as means to supplement family income. Many of these are wives of fishermen and farmers who have a steady source of fresh ingredients from their husband’s trade. Many of these street-side hawkers through the years attained affluence and moved into shop-lots and later opened restaurants. Some remained on the street in food carts to retain mobility. Today we have 3rd and 4th generation cooks and restaurateurs still keeping their grandparent’s recipes and techniques alive. And this is what we celebrate in Street Chows.