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Friday, September 18, 2009

Interview: Ten questions with Chubby Hubby, and your chance to win a ticket to the SIFF World Chef Showcase worth $285



Can you feel the excitement in the air? That's the anticipation of the first ever Sydney International Food Festival, due to launch on 1 October, less than two weeks away!

The gustatory celebration once known as Good Food Month has been expanded and rebranded as the Sydney International Food Festival, with more events than ever before. Popular events like Let's do Lunch, Hats Off dinners and Sugar Hits have been joined by High Teas, Pop-Up Dinners and food festivals in Ashfield, Auburn and Summer Hill.

Perhaps the biggest event on the calendar is the World Chef Showcase, a weekend of talks, demonstrations and tastings featuring chefs from Australia and around the world. One session which immediately caught my eye was Session 4 of Program 2 called Cyber Cuisine - "Food online: blogs, Twitter, diner reviews and more. Where’s it all going? What does it mean?"

The Cyber Cuisine session will be hosted by Andrea Nguyen and Christophen Tan but I was most excited to hear that Singaporean food blogger, Chubby Hubby, will also be appearing on the panel. If you have been reading food blogs for a while, you will know the exquisite food, writing and photography created by both Aun Koh and his wife S. Aun was kind enough to answer ten questions for Grab Your Fork before his upcoming visit to our sunny shores.


Image courtesy of Chubby Hubby

Ten Questions with Aun Koh from Chubby Hubby

1. When did you first start blogging and what prompted you to start?
Chubby Hubby came about through chance. I was in charge of organizing the Singapore Writers Festival back in 2005. The Chairman that I had appointed had suggested we incorporate blogging into the Festival programme--using blogs as a way or marketing the Festival as well as inviting famous bloggers to sit on panels. I had no idea back then what a blog was. But when I started investigating them, and especially when I came across the then-new world of food blogs, I was hooked.

As an ex-writer, photographer and magazine editor, I thought a blog would be the perfect hobby. I still missed writing and taking photos so it was a great creative outlet. And as a passionate foodie, naturally, I decided to tailor my blog around my gustatory cravings.

2. Tell us a little bit about your blog, Chubby Hubby.
The blog really chronicles the foods that my wife and I cook at home, the restaurants we love, and some of our culinary-based travels. I try not to post anything negative so if I try a restaurant and we don't like the food, we just keep quiet. I figure that there's no point on blasting out a negative review just for the sake of trying to be funny or build an audience.

3. What keeps you blogging? Why do you do it?
At first, it was really a creative outlet, as I said above. These days--and mostly because of both my and my wife's backgrounds in magazines--we quite carefully select topics to post about. We try to create posts that will be useful to readers and that will constantly make them want to return.

4. How have you seen the blogging landscape change since you first started?
When I first started, there were just a handful of great food blogs. Now, there are so many I can't even keep up with them. New and ever more creative ones are popping up weekly, if not daily. I think the biggest shifts in the past five years are (1) more specialization; (2) the proliferation of blogs that are quite created in hopes of landing a book deal; and (3) more and more bloggers connecting with readers via non-virtual platforms, like hosting events for example.

5. How are blogs perceived in Singapore? By the public and the restaurant industry?
I'm sure it would be the same in Australia. Some bloggers are respected. Some are annoying brats with no manners. Some bloggers obviously write for a specific audience and don't care what restaurateurs think. There is a great variety and there are people sitting on both sides of the fence, so to speak.

6. What do you think is the future for food blogs and food bloggers?
Well, many have been able to land book deals, TV shows, and become professional media (as both writers and photographers). It's kind of funny since I did all that before the blog. In some ways, I'm the backwards bloggers. I think the better bloggers will become part of the mainstream media while the less than average ones will continue to maintain their sites but get fewer and fewer hits.

To be very honest, and I say this as someone who was once part of the mainstream media, many bloggers are creating content at a much higher level than even the most popular food magazines. These guys and gals will eventually need to make a decision--whether to keep doing what they are doing for the sheer passion or to turn what they are doing into a commercial enterprise. I think many will find that if they choose the latter, they'll lose the freedom that running one's own blog allows.

7. You take amazing photos – any photography tips for inspired food bloggers?
Learn how to set your white balance. Oh, and always ask nicely for permission before shooting in a restaurant.

8. You’ve visited Australia a number of times – what springs to mind when you think of Australian cuisine?
Australia has changed so much over the last decade. It's now a food haven. When I think of Australia, I think of great, regional produce. And I think of great food photography. Seriously, Aussie food photography and food styling has been revolutionary.

9. What comfort food do you crave when you’re sick?
I love a simple steamed egg custard made with minced pork. I like to have that with a bowl of rice.

10. What’s the first thing you plan on eating when you land in Sydney?
Ah, the truffled egg pasta at Buon Ricordo!


Ticket Giveaway for Grab Your Fork readers

Would you like the chance to hear more from Aun and meet a whole range of internationally acclaimed chefs at the World Chef Showcase? Then enter the Grab Your Fork competition to win your very own ticket worth $285! I'm also vey pleased to announce that Festival director Joanna Savill be choosing the lucky winner!


THE PRIZE:
One winner will receive a ticket to Program 2 of the SIFF World Chef Showcase on Saturday October 10, 2009. The World Chef Showcase ticket includes:
  • Five sessions of talks, demonstrations and tastings with chefs from Australian and around the world, running from 9.30am-5pm
  • morning tea of dumplings from Din Tai Fung
  • lunch at Sean's Kitchen featuring paella, sushi and more with complimentary wine
  • afternoon tea of pastries from Brasserie Bread
  • tastings and drinks at the final dessert session
  • a full-colour program featuring a full set of all the recipes and chef's biographies.
The prize ticket is valid for Progam 2: China and will feature the following personalities:
  • Jereme Leung (Hong Kong)
  • Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong, Sydney)
  • Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation, Hong Kong)
  • Fuchsia Dunlop (Land of Plenty/Sichuan Cookery)
  • Andrea Nguyen, Christopher Tan and Aun Koh (Cyber Cuisine talk)
  • Poh Ling Yeow and Matt Preston (MasterChef Australia)
  • Simon Thomsen (MC for the day).
Worried about going on your own? Don't worry - I'll be attending too!


HOW TO ENTER:
All you have to do is:
  1. Add a comment to this post and tell us why you want to win a ticket to the World Chef Showcase
  2. Send an email to grabyourforkchefcomp@yahoo.com.au and include your full name and a copy of the answer you submitted as a comment on this post.

COMPETITION CONDITIONS:
  • Competition closes on Sunday 27 September 2009 at 5.00pm AEST.
  • The prize is one ticket to the World Chef Showcase, Program 2 China on Saturday 10 October 2009, held as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. Total prize value is $285. Prize is not transferrable – please make sure you can attend.
  • The winner will be chosen by guest judge Joanna Savill on the basis of originality and creativity. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The winner will be announced on Grab Your Fork on Wednesday 30 September 2009.
Tickets for the SIFF World Chef Showcase are available for sale through Ticketmaster.

Thank you everyone for your entries. The winners have been announced here.

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Ten Questions with Matthew Evans
Ten Questions with Luke Nguyen
Ten Questions with Poh Ling Yeow
Ten Questions with Curtis Stone


SIFF 2009 - A Taste of Peru
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hits at Grace Hotel, Glass Brasserie and Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour
SIFF 2009 - Nose-to-tail barbecue with Fergus Henderson
SIFF 2009 - World Chef Showcase


32 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/18/2009 12:33:00 am


32 Comments:

  • At 9/18/2009 9:01 am, Anonymous Jo Anne said…

    I would love to win the ticket for my daughter. She has developed a passion for cooking and is about to undertake a Pattisserie Course.

     
  • At 9/18/2009 9:44 am, Blogger Forager said…

    What an awesome offer! I wish I could enter and go but I'm o/s for all of Good Food Month! Food planning fail. :( Have an awesome time and I look forward to reading all about it!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 10:30 am, Anonymous felixexplody said…

    I have a ticket to fly to New York on Saturday 10 October for a 6-week holiday. However, work and other circumstances have conspired against me, and I am no longer able to go. I would love to go to the showcase so the world can come to me! Indeed, why go to New York to eat when the finest in international cuisine is on Sydney's doorstep?!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 10:41 am, Blogger Evelyn said…

    I'd like the opportunity to hear these chefs and presenters demystify the depth and variety of Chinese cuisine, and explore how regional Chinese cuisine is being re-discovered and celebrated.

     
  • At 9/18/2009 10:43 am, Blogger Simon Food Favourites said…

    WOW. I'd love to win this ticket so i can catch up with you and go on a photo blogging frenzy. I'd also like to see Poh and Matt Preston in the flesh. such a great prize. thanks for offering. :-)

     
  • At 9/18/2009 11:47 am, Anonymous Belle@OohLook said…

    I was so excited when I saw this competition. Of all the SIFF World Chef Showcases, this was the one I most wanted to attend. The Asian theme, as well as the chance to see Poh and Matt Preston makes program 2 a standout.

     
  • At 9/18/2009 12:29 pm, Anonymous Teresa said…

    As an Australian of Italian descent with a love of Asian cuisine, I would love to win this prize to gain a better understanding of Chinese food in both the traditional Sichuan style but also the fascinating contemporary movement. (It would also make a lovely change from my traditional Italian roots!) I would also love to hear the panel discuss the role of the internet in the food industry.

    Fantastic prize Helen!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 12:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I went to singapore with my wife to visit some of her chinese family and found it to be the most food-crazy place on earth. The standards and competition are so high for hawker food--that only the best survive. It's edible evolutionary theory in action! It would also be a blogger's delight, because there are endless (and inexpensive) treasures to be unearthed everywhere.
    dat's my 2 cents.
    "johnny forks"

     
  • At 9/18/2009 1:34 pm, Anonymous Ninjas have more fun said…

    As a fledgling blogger with a super sweet tooth I would love to come to the showcase to try the desserts and pastries but in particular the cyber cuisine talk as I believe food blogs will play a larger role in media in the not too distant future. Twitter has become so popular and we are able to get a glimpse into the lives of chefs who are also able to receive immediate feedback. Of course it doesn't hurt that I would get to spend the day with Sydney's most popular food blogger!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 3:12 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Why would i want to win a ticket to the world chef showcase? It's one of those things you put on the "oooh I want to do that" but never quite can justify the money! I'm on tight budget and I would revel in every second of it. I love cooking and entertaning, and to spend a whole day in the company of other like minded souls would be really inspiring...

    and fun!

    Plus as a looong time dedicated reader of GRab your Fork I really would take a lot of pleasure in meeting the famed Helen! :-)

     
  • At 9/18/2009 3:22 pm, Anonymous Keren said…

    All the reasons I would like to go: because it would be fascinating and inspirational to experience these dynamic practitioners of Chinese cuisine; to see the MC Simon Thomsen, having enjoyed his Good Living restaurant reviews; to meet Helen, my favourite food blogger; to know more about the Net 2.0 foodarama; and to sample the glamorous Poh’s delicious-sounding desserts. Plus, I just like the sound of Chubby Hubby!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 3:33 pm, Anonymous Sarah said…

    I would love to win this prize! As a poor uni student with a healthy but rather expensive foodie appetite, the SIFF World Chef Showcase would be an amazing opportunity to experience THE epicurean adventure of my lifetime.

    Being Australian-born Chinese, I'd be especially excited to partake in a journey into contemporary Chinese cuisine. As Poh had expertly demonstrated on 'Masterchef', I am greatly intrigued to see how traditional elements of Chinese cooking has evolved and how this has been re-interpreted by some of the leading contemporary Chinese chefs of this era.

    Ooh I've gotten myself all worked up for this event as I composed this entry... Thanks for the opportunity, Helen and Joanna!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 5:02 pm, Blogger Suzie said…

    There once was a blogger of food,
    Whose cooking reflected her mood,
    But tickets to SIFF
    Let her munch, nibble, sniff
    Till her culinary lust was renewed!

     
  • At 9/18/2009 7:25 pm, Anonymous The Devil Eats Prata said…

    I am such an amateur when comes to reading SIFF program and had Joanna Savill corrected me on Tweeter this morning, so embarassing. Now I can finally see that the Program 2 is definitely the best program of them all, I have my eyes on the "Demon Chef".

    Ever since I watched that episode of Anthony Bourdain dining at Alvin Leung's restaurant in Hong Kong, I thought, "This dude is such a schmuck! Oh my god, I just want to punch him in the face!" Despite his "schmuckness" (is there such a word?), I am totally convinced that he has brought a revolution to chinese cuisines. I am looking forward to see what he has to say.

    But deep down I just can't wait to see which tunic dress and rosary beads Kylie Kwong is going to wear that day.

     
  • At 9/18/2009 8:15 pm, Anonymous kay said…

    wow great competition helen!!

     
  • At 9/19/2009 2:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow...a whole day spent uninterrupted spent eating, talking, thinking and learning about food....my kind of heaven!!

    Noodlehead

     
  • At 9/21/2009 1:38 pm, Blogger Y said…

    Great to read more about Chubby Hubby. Love his blog!

     
  • At 9/22/2009 4:50 am, Anonymous sugarpuffi said…

    I would LOVE to win this cause Seans Kitchen has always been my favourite restaurant. Their Wagyu beef is absolutely superb! The mini buns at Din Tai Fung are soooo full of juice it make my mouth water just thinking of it.

     
  • At 9/23/2009 9:47 pm, Blogger FFichiban said…

    OOhh I want to win so I can hang out with the famous Helen Yee! Hee hee also to see Matt Preston. If I win I will wear a cravat!

     
  • At 9/25/2009 2:25 am, Blogger Karen @ Citrus and Candy said…

    This would be a dream session for a number of reasons:

    1) Renowned chefs... it's like meeting rock stars.

    2) I'm such a Masterchef groupie so to rub shoulders with Poh and Matt Preston? *smile*

    3) Oh how I'd love to meet THE Chubby Hubby in the (not-so-chubby) flesh!

    4) As someone of Chinese descent who's more Western-influenced, I'd love to learn more about Asian cuisine. My parents would be grateful.

    5) The cravats. I want to see the cravats up close.

     
  • At 9/25/2009 9:32 am, Anonymous shez said…

    A lifetime of sitting perched on my mother's kitchen benchtop (less so now, I'm a little bigger than I was as a 7 year old) has instilled a love of food in me - and a sense of wonder towards those that have the talent and the chutzpah to make it their career. Chefs? They're my personal heroes.

    The pick of the streams is perfect too - after years of shunning Asian fare in favour of (what I thought were) the superior tastes of "Real Aussie Food", I've recently come full circle and come to appreciate the clever balance and subtle nuances of flavour in Asian cooking - particularly Malaysian food, as suits my heritage. I love that every village has its own "correct" recipe, and I'm particularly excited to see Poh's kuih koci recipe (partly so I can compare it to my mum's!)

    So how much would I love to attend the World Chef Showcase? So. Much.

     
  • At 9/25/2009 10:59 am, Blogger CWord said…

    Just feed me, it is all about food isn't it?!?

     
  • At 9/25/2009 11:06 am, Anonymous Rae said…

    I love the cooking world, and there are a few combinations I'm constantly drawn to - seafood and garlic, lamb and cumin, green and red... Years in hospitality have left me with a strong appreciation for foodies, chocolatiers, punters and very specific constant chocolate cravings!

    But the real reason I want to win is because I love eating food. What more is there to say?

     
  • At 9/25/2009 11:25 am, Anonymous Anita said…

    I am so obsessed with food – so much it’s just not funny (especially for my family :P ). I am looking forward to the Sydney International Food Festival with much anticipation after I missed out on attending last year due to my Wedding (I suppose that is a very good reason to miss it). This year will be extremely exciting with a vast range of activities and food available along with a great line-up of celebrity and world-renowned chefs.

    In particular to win this Showcase ticket and attendance of Program 2: China, would be a fascinating and extremely exciting opportunity and experience. I would love to expand on my (unfortunately limited) knowledge of and dishes based on the Chinese culture, both traditional and modernised creations. This would be perfect with such inspiring chefs as Sydney’s very own Kylie Kwong, other International chefs, fellow food bloggers, newly famed Poh and the ever-lovely Matt Preston.

    Thanks to both Helen and Joanna for giving everyone the opportunity to win this prize.

     
  • At 9/25/2009 12:22 pm, Anonymous Sandra said…

    I would like to win this competition, because even though I work in the food industry, I don't get to see much of what happens on the "field". That is why I would love to spend a whole day with other like-minded people and learning about Chinese Food! Plus if it means I could sample more of those delicious Din Thai Fung Dumplings, that would really make my day :-)

     
  • At 9/26/2009 6:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, What a great competition! For my part, I missed out on eating at Alvin's Bo Innovations on my last trip to HK as they were completely booked out. One of my friends then fell ill so we had to cancel our trip to Shanghai, there goes the dinner at Whampoa Club and Jereme's cooking! A dinner at one of Alvin's offshoots was the best we managed. Therefore, this prize would be all my Oriental dining dreams coming true all on the same day!

    Gobsmack'd

     
  • At 9/26/2009 9:09 pm, Anonymous Minh said…

    I would like the opportunity to attend the World Chef Showcase as I believe it is the first real opportunity I have seen in Australia that is open for anyone and everyone and gives us all the opportunity to meet so many celebrated Chefs all in one place.

    That this one day will not only feature some of the biggest Asian Chefs in the Asia Pacific area, but that we'll also be served meals from two fantastic Sydney restaurants makes it unbelievable, and is something I would love to experience.

     
  • At 9/27/2009 8:53 am, Blogger Lilia said…

    I would love to win because I wan to re-invent my passion of food, writing, of course my blog and to meet other food bloggers. My blog had been stalled for a long time as I was very busy reaching my job targets then suddenly I feel that I was exhausted and need to find more passion in work and my leisure time to drive up myself. Food is one of my pleasure (other than leisure and business travelling) and I never get close to famous chefs, so I really want to have a closer look on those famous chefs (Poh and Matt Preston are my favourite) and other food bloggers (especially Helen, but I'm not stalking her, and Aun Koh from Chubby Hubby).

     
  • At 9/27/2009 11:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I want to win because I'd absolutely LOVE to go and see it all in person and taste all those wonderful flavours but can't afford a ticket!

     
  • At 9/27/2009 1:40 pm, Anonymous Jolene said…

    I am a big fan of food and would love to get into this network to learn more and hopefully with this event it will give me the courage to open a bistro that serve fusion food that is affordable.

     
  • At 9/27/2009 3:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I really WANT to win a ticket to attend the World Chef Showcase because I am an absolutely die hard foodie fan and I don’t want to go alone. My husband thinks I am obsessed with food as I practically spend all my free time reading food blogs, recipe books, cooking, baking and experimenting with recipes. I love checking out restaurants (especially the ones in Tokyo) recommended by Chubby Hubby so it would be a fantastic opportunity if I could share my experiences of the restaurants he recommended with him in person. I would also like to rub shoulders with Poh, being a fellow Malaysian Chinese. Most of all, I LOVE cyber cuisine and I would love to have the opportunity to meet food bloggers (especially all in one place) who hopefully can share with me a tip or two about the key elements of starting my own food blog.

     
  • At 9/27/2009 10:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    'Sorry I am late! Hope I still make it! I have always had an affinity for delicious food and this is an opportunity for me to taste and sample some of the best food around from many reknowned chefs. What more can I ask for?

     

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