F: Do you have a modern kitchen gadget that you can’t live without?
D: “Yes – a Vitamix because it beats using a pestle and mortar any day!”
F: What’s the one old school trick that you still use daily?
D: “Using the tops of the lemongrass and using it as a brush. It gives flavour, plus, no wastage too.”
F: Which is the first restaurant you’d go to, and what’s the first dish you’d eat when you’re back in KL?
D: “Restaurant Vishal in Brickfields for banana leaf rice. It’s the bomb!”
Whoops, deleted this post accidentally 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️! Lunch game = very strong. Banana leaf rice, chicken 65, fish curry, dhal, rasam, okra, deep fried bitter gourd, fried tenggiri, mutton varuval & pappadums… And all for around $6 AUD per head 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻 #india #indianfood #southindian #bananaleafrice #lunch #food #foodie #foodporn #foodgasm #curry #yum #malaysia #KL #foodcoma #hwkr #melbourne #disy #chan #brickfields
F: What’s your favourite cuisine when eating out, and which is the one you’d like to try that you haven’t before?
D: “My favourite cuisine when eating out is Japanese, and the one cuisine I’d love to try is street food from South America.”
F: Name a chef – dead or alive, real or fictional – you’d like to cook with.
D: “I’d love to meet Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain one day. I think they’d both have incredible stories to tell.”
Such sad news. Absolutely shocked. Anthony Bourdain is without a doubt one of the biggest influences of my love of cooking, eating and travel. A truly gifted story teller. If you, or anyone close to you are experiencing mental health issues there is help available. Speak with a friend or loved one. You are not alone. @beyondblueofficial & @lifelineaustralia are a few great resources here in Australia. #AnthonyBourdain #RIP
F: What advice would you give those who are inspired by your cooking style?
D: “Stay true to your palate. Cook what you want to eat. Be adventurous. Try different combinations of flavour and always try to innovate and make the processes simpler.”
F: You’re known for being a woman who can (used to) juggle your corporate career whilst pursuing your dream. What’s your advice to young women out there regarding this?
D: “I think to know what you can achieve and to set an expectation for yourself so you don’t get disappointed is important. Personally, I tend to say yes to everything and I end up with a lot to do, but I love that push. I love challenging myself and making sure I do what’s best for myself. Being constantly challenged can be tiring too, so don’t forget to pamper yourself every now and then.”
F: What do you usually do when you’re not cooking or in the kitchen?
D: “I love exercising, so often I’d go for runs, do pilates or yoga and just relax. Also, I love shopping. I mean, which girl doesn’t? I love to keep up with fashion and know what’s trending.”
F: What’s next for you?
D: “It will be to see Chanteen grow, hopefully all over Australia, and maybe one day I can open something in South East Asia. I’m also working on a new range of products to hit the supermarket shelves soon along with a food and travel shows.
F: What would your last meal on earth be?
D: “Wow, tough one! But it would have to be my mom’s Assam Pedas. It’s the best thing I’ve ever had!”
Diana’s hawker style street food pop up is open seven days a week, from 11:30AM – 10PM until August, at 137, A’Beckett St, Melbourne, 3000.
From the May 2018 print edition. Original text by Tammy Chan.