Sarah Benjamin, 27
Host of Cooking for Love
How did you develop an interest in cooking?
My parents encouraged me to try out cooking – they don’t really cook, but they bought me recipe books and let me play with knives and fire. They’re good parents, I promise! My family were the guinea pigs of my early experiments, but I only started documenting my recipes and taking cooking more seriously while in university.
What was the most challenging bit about creating new dishes in Cooking for Love?
The show format is such that we cook whatever the families in each episode want to have for their celebration – so the biggest challenge is always trying to impress them while remaining true to my style. That and figuring out how spicy to make the food!
Do you have any culinary idols?
I love the way David Chang thinks and talks about food. As a Korean-American raised in the US, he understands how food has distilled culture, and how different food cultures intersect. That’s something I’ve always thought about while growing up in Singapore, given my mixed heritage. He often talks about how one flavour can mean different things to different people, and why you shouldn’t limit your cooking to so-called ‘authentic’ food. I love that philosophy – if two things taste good together, why not put them on the same plate?
If you could only have one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tough question, indeed! I’d go with Hainanese chicken rice. It’s the perfect packed lunch, because you can eat it with one spoon and it tastes good even at room temperature. And it has the added bonus of making me feel patriotic, because it’s one delicious national dish.
Catch Sarah Benjamin in 'Cooking for Love S2' from Dec 9 at 8pm on Asian Food Channel.