My first lesson about food was that it can be a very important part of a person’s life. I was not more than 10 years old when my father took us all the way to Ipoh, Malaysia, because he wanted to have the best fresh rice noodles in the world. Showing us the city where he was born and raised was the second reason. I remember buying fresh, juicy rambutan from a roadside vendor and eating piping hot bak kut teh every breakfast, but everything else about the trip is a blur.

Another lesson about food I’ve learned is that cooking with love is a key to good food. I’m not sure when or where I picked up this concept, but when I see it in someone, I know I’ll be enjoying what I’m about to eat. I try to cook that way, and I’ve also been lucky to have been surrounded by people who do this.