Sunday, June 30, 2019

Discrimination is real.

Speak Up. The TED Talk I didn't expect to give.

I sprung an unscheduled introduction at the beginning of my talk. As you'd might expect, it won't be uploaded on any official platforms. The backstory to this: Joshua Simon announced the night before our TEDx Talks that he suddenly wasn't speaking anymore. He wouldn't say why, because he didn't want to take away from the rest of our moments on stage.. That's just the kind of guy he is. But something felt wrong; he and I were sharing our stories with a mutual mix of excitement and stress leading up to this Talk, until just hours before this announcement. I prodded other sources until I found out why.

How do I explain the kind of rage you feel when an injustice has occurred before your very eyes. How could I continue to give my talk about misfits, about facing bullies and shame, about having courage.. when this was happening right here, right now? What had gone from a predictable night of resting before an ordinary TED Talk turned into something else.  I saw only two options: Drop out in solidarity... Or once the mic was on me, to speak up. 

I chose the latter. For various reasons, including that the organizers who invited us to speak WANTED us to share these stories. But they were pressured, and caved. Someone needed to speak up and tell the truth.

I believe in the freedom to love, especially the freedom to express this love. But honestly, when the moment came to speak, I was scared. It's crazy that I was scared to say a simple statement about basic human rights. But thanks to the support of confidants who also share this anti-bullying sentiment (Rozz Lee, Paul Foster, Mark, Laibond, Athalie, Kym and others).. These are people who I know who would do the same.

This call to truth and freedom to love isn't about me, but I also feel it's important to share the process of speaking up. It isn't always easy, and indeed there are consequences over seemingly small things. Do I think that risk is worth it? Yes. Absolutely. Never underestimate the power of your voice for the right cause. Speak Up, Singapore. 

Lastly, thank you Josh for not allowing anyone to censor your story, even if it meant giving up (for now) your dream of giving a TED Talk. I think what you're saying now is infinitely more important. đŸŒˆ

Monday, March 11, 2019

Best Butter Brands According to Chefs

You're in the dairy section of the supermarket: what brand of butter do you pick up?

There I was, asking my partner which brand I should get for the house this time, Kerrygold or Echiré? "Get the cheapest one," he replied. Glancing at the prices first, TO MY HORROR HE REACHED FOR MARGARINE.

Like quality of eggs, brand of butter is of supreme importance to me. It's a daily staple, whether in cooking or slathered over a piece of toast. But to some people, like my boyfriend, "What's the big deal? It's all the same." 

His point really had me thinking... I actually love this man?

Nevertheless, I'm convinced people of this nature just need to try the best even just once, to appreciate why it matters.

Fortuitously, a week later, we dined at the newly opened Table65 in Singapore, serving a menu which consisted of a bunch of things he normally doesn't care for: mackerel, herring, oysters, and of course, his indifference towards butter. Served in a glass bowl, the creamy, smoky, salted French butter blew his mind. He requested for multiple mini-sourdough loaves til dessert, so he could continue to eat the butter at a 1:1 ratio.

(side note, it was also one of the first times he enjoyed aforementioned seafood as well. Bravo and thank you, Table65. More about Table65's butter in the article ahead.)

So I thought to share some opinions from cooks and chef friends around Singapore. We've got a range of nationalities and personalities here, who've been so kind as to share their thoughts on butter. It's particularly interesting, since it turns out not every chef is a butter snob:


Chef Shen Tan, Ownselfmakechef (and my co-host on Kitchen Invasion)

1. All-Around Favorite brand of butter: Anchor Butter

2. Favorite Butter for Toast vs. Cooking: For toast, Bordier Demi Sel. For cooking, Anchor Butter, because it is from grass-fed pasture cows.

3. Other thoughts on butter: Butter is awesome. Especially when frying luncheon meat. Brown butter cake! Eat it with a fried egg in butter and migoreng.

Isn’t she awful? I love it.

Chef Kirk Westaway, Chef de Cuisine, JAAN

“Butter from Devonshire, south west of England, world famous for dairy production. Especially butter and clotted cream served with scones (“Devon” cream tea). It’s famously rich from free grazing cows on the rolling Devon hills.”

Chef Kirk then sent me this exact screenshot. Thanks for the visual.

Chef Huang Ming Tan, Chef Owner (JAM at Sirihouse)
(also a co-host on Kitchen Invasion, and makes good sandwiches)

1) Best all-around butter: Kerrygold - best balance of flavour, great colour, tasty to eat with pancakes (salted) and to sear and make pastries with (sweet).

2) Best butter for toast vs cooking:

Echiré for toast. That slight funk is incomparable for straight eating on toast, where you want a robust salting to complement whatever base carb you have: potatoes, brioche, sourdough, pancakes, noodles.

Kerrygold for cooking. The funk of fermented butter found in French types doesn't sit well with me. I prefer a straight nuttiness when the milk solids brown and caramelise.

3. Other thoughts on butter: I hate it when restaurants serve unsalted butter with bread. Where's the joy in eating something that hasn't been seasoned? A bland dinner roll with unsalted butter is like eating a napkin with margarine.

One of life's greatest joys is eating salted butter and bread. Fresh, crispetty baguette, just-toasted brioche or a crusty sourdough hunk. Appropriate with honey and kaya for breakfast, foie and jam for lunch, mopping jus and sauces during dinner.

KF Seetoh, Founder (Makansutra)

"I'm ol school Costolee (SCS) salted butter man, from Cold Storage. Love the sinful ones. I will add truffle oils or shavings, and blend it in when I can. Spread that toasted brioche or local baguette, and I'm a happy man.

I have even had 6 butters from 6 cows at French Laundry, none memorable la. Still my Costolee is best!"

Chef Wai Leong Woo, Chef-Owner (Restaurant Ibid)

“Usually for cooking, I think it’s all down to price. But when butter is used for eating with bread, then it gets a bit more interesting.”

Chef Bob, Walking Fridge and Founder (also a co-host on Kitchen Invasion)

1.     Golden Churn
2.     Golden Churn
3.     Golden Churn

Wholesome, nutty, and for the caramelized colour it adds to the steak when basted with it. It’s amazing.

Chef Anthony Yeoh, Chef-Owner (Summerhill)

Chef Ant knows a thing or two about fried chicken.

1. Favorite all-around butter: Kerrygold or President.
2. ÉchirĂ© for toast and unsalted President for cooking.
3. Other thoughts on butter: It’s so good on Fried Chicken.

Chef Chris Martin, not the Coldplay guy, (Summerhill)

1. Beurre D'Isigny is my all-round fave, for the nutty flavour and slight tang. It's really good on its own or with a sprinkle of salt flakes.

2. Fave butter for toast: I would have to say simple good old margarine. It's not the healthiest, but eh! I grew up on it, to me it's nostalgia.

Fave cooking butter: President unsalted butter. It's got that really creamy rich flavour, which is what you're looking for in all those French dishes (damn fine for mash potatoes).

3. Other thoughts on butter: Butter is good fried meats too. Ha! Basting it over a nice piece of breaded veal chop tastes pretty damn fine. 

Chef Steven Snowdon, Executive Chef (Subrosa Private Dining), Finalist (Eat, List, Star)

1. My favourite butter would have to be Vermont creamery cultured butter with sea salt crystals. It's really good, like OMG good! It's tangy, creamy and over the top buttery butter. It's strong, reminds me of a very good homemade butter made from strong full fat farmed cream left to culture for a while. It's not for everyone, because it's strong. But if you're a butter person, it's a must try. Take it from a chef.

2. Fave butter for toast vs fave butter for cooking: President butter for cooking! It's a pretty strong butter, all around great saltiness and foams nicely when needing to baste meats or monte butter/burn noisette. It's also great for toast or adding flavourings to it, it holds up very well. Also great for baking.

For toast, President or Kerrygold pure Irish butter, very creamy, you can taste the Irish meadows. The Salted version is also very good. Quite an underdog in the the butter world.

3. Any other commentary on butter: Butter is super diverse once you understand it and how many butters vary in tastes, from creaminess to very tangy, sour, how long it's cultured for. There are so many butters on the market that are great. I've always loved French or British butters simply because in Europe we have great cream and milk, but any home made cultured butter from great cream I'm all for! Some butters are made from super strong full fat creams to very light single creams. 

It also depends on how the cattle is bred, what it's fed, diet, etc. A little experiment for the not-so-buttery peoples, would be to get three different creams, a commercial version full fat, a single cream and an Artisan farmers fresh full fat cream and make three different butters yourself, leave them to culture for different times and then test the flavors, and you'll see how diverse butter can be.

Chef Bjorn Shen, Judge (MasterChef Singapore), Chef-Owner (Artichoke)

"I don't have a preferred butter actually. I'll grab what's in front of me. I'm ghetto like that."

"At a grocery store, I'll take whatever is on special... 2-for-1. Best." But not margarine, since he recalls someone mentioning that margarine is bad cholesterol.

Chef Drew Nocente, Executive Chef (Salted and Hung)

1. Bordier has to be my all time favourite, amazing flavour and a really smooth texture.

2. For both cooking and toast, I like Kerrygold Irish Butter. It's really tasty with high fat content and rich flavour, with just a slight acidity to it. I use salted to toast, unsalted for cooking.

Chef Dayal Kesha, Jr Sous Chef (table65)

1. Favourite brand of butter would be Lescure (which is the brand we use at the restaurant). My love of butter started with Anchor, a common dairy brand in New Zealand. But I can strongly remember when and where I was the first time I tasted Lescure, and how it took me to a new level of appreciation for butter – which is kinda cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if later in life when I have my own restaurant where we make our own butter that we have a small supply of this for the guests to take home, so i can see this answer changing from being lescure to our own butter.

2. I make my own butter at home for the sole purpose of spreading on our sourdough that we also make. I don’t use so much butter at home for cooking, but i always have a block of Anchor in the fridge mainly because of the cost, but I do like using Lescure for pastries as it caramelises nicely while also working wonders for the texture of these items.

3. Making butter is quite simple and also very rewarding. It can get messy but playing around with various methods, cultures, cream varieties as well as adding various flavours can lead to some great results. The possibilities are only confined by your desire for experimentation. 

As you can see, there's no one true butter to rule them all. Generally, we can all agree that butter makes eating bread a million times better. For anyone who's never considered butter options before, I encourage you to experiment and taste test this affordable luxury.

PS. My current personal preference is Echiré and Kerrygold for bread, President butter for cooking at home. However, my butter quest is always active and open.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

[Esquire] Travel Bhutan, Laya Village

Here's my October article for Esquire, a piece on what goes on behind the scenes of a boutique travel company. We did a recce trip together with Blue Sky Escapes founders, Krystal Tan and Chervin Chow up to the one of the most remote villages in the world, Laya Village atop the Himalayas in Bhutan. There, the Layap people herd yak and harvest the prized Chinese herb, cordyceps.

Monday, February 19, 2018

French in Spain by a Chinese-American from Singapore

I'm currently in the Barcelona airport, and a lady came up to me asking my Chinese-American face if I speak French (a little, incidentally!). Then, if I can help her connect her wifi registration on an all French language phone.
Ah the beauty of #omgineedinternet togetherness.

Good thing I eat a lot of French Fries. Improves my French.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Victoria Cheng, Channel 8 | The Food Bank x Nespresso

Thanks Channel 8 for covering Nespresso's efforts together with The Food Bank, an NGO focused on feeding the needy in Singapore. You can catch what I had to say from 14:10 onwards (or 18:20 onwards to get straight to it).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Nutrition, Real Nutrition Advice

Doing my Nutritionist studies now. I'm sick and tired of false nutritional information being spread on the internet, or articles that simply have no real research behind it, and are recommending nonsense super foods or fad diets.

I'm logging some theories that are being confirmed along the way as I research more. Figuring I should just share them publicly, in case anyone's curious!

- Good nutrition isn't about a particular diet or food choices, as much as it is about simply paying better attention to what you eat. Be mindful of what you're eating.
- One thing every decent diet plan has in common is not adding processed foods to your diet. Rather, whole, minimally processed, nutrient-rich foods. Better quality food = better health.
- Diets help you get started, but there's no one size fits all program.
- I don't like calorie counting. I stopped calorie counting (unless I have a very specific sport/health goal). And really, if you are aware of what you're eating, and eat good quality food/produce, you don't need to calorie count. Listen to what your body needs. The better the food is (nutritionally), your body will be fuller longer and perform better.
- It's not just about eating chicken and broccoli for days. Most whole foods are great to eat! In fact, the average grocery store chicken has so many hormones and chemicals in and on it, I wouldn't recommend a diet exclusive to this one bird.
- Eat foods you enjoy, even if it's processed. In moderation. It'll prevent monster bingeing.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

WTA Finals Singapore | The Coin Toss

Huge thanks to WTA for inviting me and friends down to the Racquet Club, and to do my first tennis Coin Toss!

Together with my buddies Felicia, Alex, and Hoirul, we witnessed WTA Singapore's longest match in history since 2014. The Venus Williams v Jelena Ostapenko match witnessed 21 breaks of serve in total with Williams finally getting over the line after three hours and 13 minutes on court with a 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 victory.

Following that, a relatively quick 1-hour match between Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza, two of the top three players in the world (. But to kickstart the match, I had the pleasure of doing the coin toss! It was a few minutes of feeling incredibly intimidated to standing between these Amazonian sized athletes (I always get girl crushes on women athletes, much respect and awe).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

O Medical Clinic Brazilian SHR Review: Thumbs Down

Food. Beauty. Drink. Travel. Hotels. Services. Are you sick of bloggers and influencers and instagrammers only putting up sponsored biased reviews? Bloggers used to be the go to source for common person to common person's opinion instead of relying only on mass media, whom is sometimes influenced by advertisers or restrictions from the government or house guidelines.
Myself, I've done negative reviews, but seldom as I do feel a sense of responsibility before bashing a place. I need to have tangible reasons, and not just personal preference issues. With all this said, I have now sent in my opinion to this beauty clinic at least twice now. I'll show you what I've written now for the third time on their Feedback form.
Why? Because I hope some of you find an honest review useful, and consider more thoroughly how painless this SHR actually is.

Location: O Medical Clinic at Capitol Piazza / also known as ONLY Aesthetics
Service: Originally Brazilian IPL, but was convinced to get the Brazilian SHR (Super Hair Removal) package instead.
The last visit was fine, and in fact that particular therapist was the first one in a year who fully explained the whole process properly, which I appreciated.
Few things, which I've pointed out on this form before:
1- Charging $10 (or is it $20 now?) to shave is ridiculous. Especially when all that's provided is a throwaway 50c razer. Considering you're located in a place like Capitol Piazza, I expect better service and not penny pinching over little things that puts a bad taste in the customer's mouth. At less premium locations, other clinics provide shaving free since the customer is suggested to shave 2 days BEFORE coming in (which at O Medical, I was not informed until yesterday). It's a minor thing but very irritating since this isn't the standard at other clinics.
2- I upgraded my package from normal IPL to this other supposedly better and painless technique, SHR.  I trusted the sales pitch and trial session which was made to imply this (it was painless and quick during the trial), but it's been anything but painless AFTER I paid for a package. It's been extremely painful each time, quite frankly I'd rather get waxed at this point but I have this package I'm stuck with now. It's been a year now and results are barely minimal.
I can't recommend this service to anyone. All in all, I regret signing on a package way too quickly at O Medical, and this ridiculous shaving charge just makes me hate it even more.

On Facials:
PS. I've tried the laser facial once at O Medical Clinic (Capitol Piazza), and wasn't a fan. It didn't change much, my skin felt drier after in fact. But that might just be personal preference for my skin type.
Likewise at The Wellness Clinic (Paragon), while the rest of the facial services were amazing, the laser facial made my skin react badly (lumps on my face!). So far, the only place that I've left feeling really great about the laser results is at DERMACARE Aesthetic & Laser Clinic (ION). Otherwise I highly recommend the Hydrafacial at The Wellness Clinic for something gentler but very effective for clear, dewy skin.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Victoria in Buro247 x Clarins

Lots of fun working with Clarins and BĂŒro247 Singapore about a day in my life! Full article here:

Meetings, so many meetings.

Wearing my trusty Adidas and Samsung Gear of course.



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