Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Chinese Domestic Goddess

I often see in the Blightly how popular Ching-He Huang (黃瀞億) is.  She sells herself as the Chinese Nigella Lawson.  I have to hand it to her, she has come a long way and is doing quite well.  Not many non-Western celebrity chefs make it in Blightly.  Ken Hom is an authority on and by far the most famous face of Chinese food in Blighty.  But there's a problem, he's a bit dull and doesn't really promote Chinese well.  He is no Martin Yan (甄文達), who can deliver technique, wit and charm at the same time.  It is rather sad that Martin Yan never made it big in Blighty.

Ching-He Huang first came on the small screen in a minor role during the early 2000's.  Here was a fresh pretty face, in a business where female cooks are usually older and not usually considered sex symbol material.  Nigella was different, but she was older.  However, the early days were a disaster.  There was no technique, it was a desperate effort to cook something and sell a face.  Ching-He Huang had no knowledge or technique at all.  It was all about mixing ready made sauces together.  Which, if you're Chinese and you knew about food, would make you cringe.  She even wrote cook books, which surprisingly, sold.  Over time, she has improved and had moved to better slots on TV.  I could only imaging that she had done some research in her spare time. Watching her on TV, I get the feeling that she doesn't really know what's she's doing.  Some of the things that she's trying to do is well out of her depth.  Her views and opinions on the Chinese catering trade is somewhat unsavoury.  I certainly wouldn't class what she cooks as Chinese, but fusion.  But she sells, not because her cooking skills are awesome, but because she is pretty.  I see she now has her own range of kitchenware.  If only her cooking skills were up there with her marketing skills.   The Chinese Nigella she is not!  But she's got guts for trying, for that I give her some credit.

On Youtube there is Nana Chan, with her wokwithnana series. Nana is better known with the online community as Nanamoose, the lawyer turned blogger and food writer.  Watching her, I get the feeling that she knows what she's doing.  Though not a chef by profession, she is actually very good.  The camera is pretty close up and you the audience gets a clear idea as to what is happening.  The show is free on Youtube and it is well worth following.  There is no silly fusion, half-wit recipes here.  It's all real and it is all things that you could try at home.  Nana knows and appreciates good food, it's her passion and she seems like somebody with real substance.  One thing I do find odd, is how somebody who has spent some time in Blighty has such a strong American accent.  Nana Chan get's my vote!

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