I am a Made in Taiwan baby, I was born there and lived there for 7 years before
moving to India and then Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been my home for the last
couple of decades. I used to work in media and lifestyle, until I decided to go pursue my dreams of learning how to open a restaurant and moved to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu. After that, I started working as a Restaurant Consultant and worked across Melbourne, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Lagos and Bombay, including Soho House Bombay. In 2020, I finally thought I was finally ready to open my own restaurant - but as the rest of the world, my life came to a standstill. I was stuck in India for 6 months in the most severe lockdown. For the first time as an adult, I didn’t have a job and all I was doing was cooking and eating. I decided to make lemon-curd-meringue out of lemons and put myself through self-taught culinary school. The accumulation of which has resulted in this cookbook.
As Robin Williams, famously said – you’re only given a little a spark of madness, and if you lose that… you’re nothing. I adhere to this religiously, if you have a spark (idea), go pursue it, give it your best and then see how the universe responds to it, but whatever you do, always hold on to the madness
Writing a cookbook was never part of the plan, it was a pivot from the plan. My
dream for as long as I can remember has been to open a restaurant. But when I
couldn’t do that, I decided to feed people through the cookbook. There is no bigger joy for me than seeing people eat something they love. That look takes over their face and the excitement is worth all the work. I am not a chef, neither am I a food writer. Funnily enough I am known for not following recipes whilst cooking and yet here I am with my own cookbook, asking all of you to follow my recipe! A Spark of Madness, is an Asian vegetarian cookbook - I have visited, travelled extensively, and eaten across each of the cities mentioned in the book and have personal anecdotes about each dish – Why did I make it? Why is it in the cookbook? What is the story behind it? Where did the ingredients come from and become such a key part of the region’s culture? I am intrigued by these stories and hence wanted to share it.
The cookbook consists of 116 recipes, whilst some recipes are classics and stay true to their cultural origins, others have experienced ‘A Spark of Madness’. Together it is an amalgamation of comfort food favourites from Pho and Katsu Curry to the outrageous Ema Datshi Beer Bread and Green Curry Gnocchi.
All recipes are foolproof, flavorful and not just for the meat-free. An added bonus is that they include a wide range of vegan and gluten-free dishes. At the end of it all, the biggest joy was to see the cookbook go from being a manuscript on my laptop to being in everyone’s homes worldwide and being on a bookshelf in bookstores.
Favourite thing to do or see in Hong Kong
Hiking is one of my favourite things to do in HK, the fact that you can be on a hiking trail within 30 minutes from any location in the city is truly a blessing. We live in the middle of a concrete jungle which is truly surrounded by so much natural jungle. One of the things that kept me sane whilst I was writing the cookbook (which for the record can be a very isolating and energy draining process), was to take a day off in the week and go hiking. I decided to challenge myself to finish all the BIG 4 Hong Kong Hiking trails during the same time period. The peaks in Hong Kong have given my dreams momentum and my thoughts wings.
Favourite Hong Kong dish
My favourite Hong Kong dish has to be Dan Dan Noodles. It is slurpy, full of flavour and textures and has the sugar, spice, and salt elements which are essential to A Spark of Madness’ ethos. You will find this in all our Spark Store products. I’ve got a great recipe for Dan Dan Noodles in A Spark of Madness cookbook, giving you a choice to make it dry or slurpy but do put in some effort to find the ribbon noodles as they really capture more of the Dan Dan essence! And if you are feeling lazy to make your Dan Dan, grab a Spark Crack Sauce. This HK dish was the inspiration behind the sauce, and it is spicy, creamy, sweet, nutty, salty, tangy. Just add it to some noodles and you will have your own Dan Dan in minutes.