A new TV series cooks up Malaysian cuisine and reveals secret recipes for the rest of the region and the world
THE latest programme on AFC (Asian Food Channel), Back To The Streets, is the channel’s first ever fully produced Malaysian travelogue, which airs every Tuesday at 9pm.
A product of AFC’s collaboration with Berjaya University College of Hospitality (Berjaya UCH), it is airing regionally in Asia to more than 45 million viewers, and showcasing some of the country’s delicacies.
Taking the reigns as hosts are Malaysia’s own chef Malcolm Goh and radio DJ and host Zher, who act as secret agents and go undercover on the streets of Kuala Lumpur in search of local culinary delights.
Goh and Zher speak to stall operators and cooks to get them to share their secret recipes.
Then, the two partners in “crime” will rush back to Berjaya UCH’s kitchen for Goh to not only recreate the dishes he has spied on but also to add his own variations. Two students from Berjaya UCH will assist Goh and Zher on each episode in preparing the dish.
Mainly it was Zher, Goh and series director Christopher Heary, who decided which stalls or restaurants to feature on the show.
“Some of our visits were based on recommendations, but we also looked at the logistics and timing, since we had a tight schedule to follow,” says Goh at the launch of the series recently.
He adds that everything went well and there were no issues that prevented filming. The restaurant owners were very supportive, in fact.
“(The experience) was nice. There were a few places I didn’t even know existed in KL. Zher is more of a foodie than me, so most of the ideas (for the locations) are from her.”
Goh, who was trained in French cuisine and is Berjaya UCH’s own culinary executive and supervising chef, found it difficult to recreate Malaysian dishes exactly and has never thought of ruining their perfect flavours.
“I didn’t want to tamper with them, because they are good as it is. Instead, I chose to gain inspiration from their textures and flavours to create something new and different altogether.”
Goh says that it took them two weeks to shoot the whole 12 episodes, and it was intense for him.
“I understand now what celebrity chefs and TV personalities go through. I’ve always thought it was easy, but it’s tough having to memorise lines, maintaining your body posture and making sure you have the best angle. I definitely appreciate this job more now.”
At the series’ launch, AFC co-founder and chief executive officer Maria Brown says, “We were looking for chefs and we got a lot of requests from all over the world but we have to be very selective.
“Whomever we picked will represent your country, culture and people. So we couldn’t just pick anybody. I’m British, but I can’t just pick Jamie Oliver to speak about authentic nasi lemak. We wanted someone who was born and bred here, who understands the cuisine and can speak about the Malaysian culture from an authentic point of view.”
Brown adds that the show is all about exporting Malaysian cuisine and knowledge to the rest of the region and to the world.
Unlike Goh, Zher is well-equipped with knowledge and experience when it comes to being in front of the camera, having worked on 8TV Quickie.
“She’s very real and down-to-earth,” Goh says of his co-host. “She is pleasant and understanding. She taught me that you will always get nervous in front of the camera no matter how experienced you are.”
“In Back To The Streets, I was given a bit more script than I was used to (in Great Dinners Of The World, another AFC production where he made his TV debut). Zher helped me out in covering my flaws.”
Back To The Streets airs every Tuesday at 9pm on AFC (Astro Channel 713)