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By CLARISSA SAY
clarissasay@thestar.com.my

IT started out 10 years ago as a personal food guide, but has since grown into one of Malaysia’s go-to food blogs.

Today, Teoh Kar Yeong, aka food blogger KY Speaks, receives close to 3,000 hits a day on his website (KYSpeaks.com), from as many as 113 countries. He has also written for Hungry Go Where, and was nominated for the Asia Pacific Blogger Awards.

And now, he’ll also be a mentor/judge for the R.AGE Food Fight, a search for Malaysia’s next food celebrity. The winner picked by KY and his fellow judges will win RM10,000 in cash, a food column in The Star and his/her own food video series on R.AGE.

Though he’s not a chef like his fellow judges, who will include the likes of Chef Wan and Chef Rodolphe Onno, KY has been blogging with great success since 2005, so he definitely brings something to the table.

He started his blog shortly after moving to Kuala Lumpur to work with an oil and gas company.

KY uses his phone to capture his meals most of the time, but turns to his trusty camera in low-light situations.

KY uses his phone to capture his meals most of the time, but turns to his trusty camera in low-light situations.

“Penang people love to eat,” he said, during a food review we were lucky enough to tag along on. When KY first came to KL, he thought most of the food tasted terrible.

It was only after some time that he realised there were some “pretty good” (his words, not ours) places and wanted to document them for personal use so he could revisit them later on.

These days, he still blogs about new eateries when he’s free, and gets invited to launches and press events for restaurants and cafes.

However, KY said the majority of his content comes from anonymous food reviews.

His advice for other bloggers writing paid or sponsored posts is to always listen to your conscience and always state that it is a sponsored review.

Another piece of advice KY had to share sounds eerily reminiscent of what Chef Onno told us last week.

“I think the number one thing most people do not have is the persistence to continually update their site,” KY said, when explaining why so many people don’t last in the blogging game.

“Most of us became popular over a long period of time. We didn’t just start from day one with 2,000 readers per day. We all started from nothing and built our way up. If people find your blog useful, they will come back again and again.”

KY went on to describe what he will be looking out for in the contestants’ submissions. In his opinion, a lot of good food writing is about information and details – the more specific the better – but at the same time, the post should be something that is still simple enough to follow.

KY works for an oil and gas company, when he's not busy blogging about food. Talk about being worlds apart!

KY works for an oil and gas company, when he’s not busy blogging about food. Talk about being worlds apart!

As for their recipes, he said: “Be creative. Don’t be afraid of pushing the boundaries; but Malaysian food has always been in my heart, so it’s just as important to use local ingredients.”

And what could be more truly Malaysian than palm oil – the featured ingredient in R.AGE Food Fight?

KY reminisced about the after-school snacks and roadside stalls selling food such as kuih lekor and pisang goreng, which are usually fried in palm oil because of its high smoke point.

That allows the oil to retain its health attributes at high temperatures, unlike other oils with lower smoke points which release dangerous free radicals when they start “smoking”.

“Palm oil has just always been there,” he said. And now with R.AGE Food Fight, it’s time to take it to the next level.

About

Previous intern Clarissa likes a lot of things. Ice cream, books, her colleagues, Welcome to Nightvale. Writing about herself is not one of those things.

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