Cooking for love

Actor, director and now cooking show host, Michael Ang seems to be able to do just about anything he sets his mind to

28 Jul 2020 / 10:17 H.

ACTOR, director, producer, script and now cooking show host, Michael Ang seems to have done everything. Well, except singing.

In 2012, he got to show off his cooking skills when he became a contestant on MasterChef Malaysia. Turns out cooking was something he had mastered a long time ago.

He showcased all the culinary skills he had picked up over the years on his own show Michael Ang’s Halal Kitchen, which first aired on Astro Ria in 2019. The show’s second season is currently airing after making its debut in early July on the same channel.

“Actually I learned how to cook when I was 14. I have always liked to cook,” said Ang, describing a lifelong passion that finally led him to becoming a cooking show host on TV.

“I started my career directing commercials before moving to TV dramas and movies. So when I got the chance to take part in Masterchef Malaysia, I decided to take it up. From there, my interest in cooking grew even more, and when I was offered a chance to do a show, I decided to do it.

“I studied in Sydney, Australia. When I missed home cooking, I would call my mum over the phone. So I learned to cook over the phone. That is when I learned to cook various sambal and other dishes. I do not like to dine out. I prefer eating at home. So when there were things I wanted to eat, I would learn to cook it.”

Ang would call his mother in Australia for recipes. – COURTESY OF ASTRO
Ang would call his mother in Australia for recipes. – COURTESY OF ASTRO

Many noted that prior to Halal Kitchen, Ang looked chubbier. Ang revealed he underwent bariatic surgery in 2019.

“I did that for health reasons. It was on the advice of doctors.”

When asked if this gave him a new perspective on food and what he eats, Ang said: “Actually I still eat things I like, but I am eating smaller portions. That is why I ask my brother and sisters to come over whenever I cook.”

Despite being a director himself, Ang prefers to let others decide when it comes to how Halal Kitchen is presented.

“ There is a whole team of creative people who know what they are doing. There is a director, so I don’t do whatever I want. Sometimes I do voice out my opinions of the recipes they want me to cook. However, for the look and tone of the show, I follow whatever the creative team wants.”

Speaking of the show’s concept, Ang explained that it all began after he converted to Islam in 2018.

“I would post on my Instagram whatever I cooked. Normally I would cook Chinese dishes, but replace certain ingredients to make it halal. So people would ask me what I used to replace this and that. I would keep answering them.

“So one day Astro offered me a cooking show, and I said I wanted to do a show where I cook the halal version of the food I used to eat. I came up with the core idea, but the rest was by the creative team.

“Basically, most of the food that I cook on TV, I have cooked before, and I know that it is good and everyone will like it. Some foods may sound alien to Malaysians, but I feel they can accept it.

“My tastebuds are very Asian. I love everything Asian and also western food. Even the western food I cook has an Asian touch. Like the bolognese [sauce] I make, I added spices it in to make it more Asian.”

When it comes to comfort food, Ang said: “Definitely the Baba and Nyonya food I grew up with. Definitely the assam pedas. Chicken rice is my favourite anyway.”

Ang described himself as a straight forward person who says what he feels.

“Even on the show I tell people maybe this is something you may not want to try because it is not very nice. We are very upfront on the show.”

When asked why there is no singing on his resume, Ang laughs and says: “Because I can’t sing! That is one thing I can’t do!”

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