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By KEVIN TAN
alltherage@thestar.com.my

INSTEAD of Barbie dolls and pink plastic tea cups, Anis Nabilah grew up “playing” with spatulas and frying pans.

“Growing up in a big family (with six sisters and a brother), it wasn’t easy for my mum to watch over all of us all the time, especially when she had to go into the kitchen and cook,” said the 26-year-old celebrity chef.

In order for her mother to keep an eye on all of her children at the same time, the solution was to bring them all into the kitchen with her.

“My mum would give each of us a tool, a bowl of batter or something to make us participate (in the cooking sessions). So we naturally learned how to cook,” said Anis.

Her love for cooking started to develop when she was nine, when she cooked her first omelette, and then she eventually “graduated” to baking.

An avid traditional Malay food lover, simply because of its authenticity, Anis also stated that as a chef, she is a “foodie” and savours all types of food.

Anis never thought that she would be the “culinary nerd” that she was when enrolling for a culinary arts diploma at the Food Institute of Malaysia (FIM). She didn’t want something that she loved doing become a “job”.

In the end, her mother managed to convince her to follow her passion, and she never looked back since. “I absolutely loved it! I was a nerd in school and I wanted to try everything,” she expressed with excitement.

Just like musicians who write songs as a form of coping mechanism, Anis cooks to get through certain moments in her life.

“You know, those phases you go through when you’re in secondary school, like puppy love and all that, I’d normally turn to cooking (to deal with them). It’s like therapy for me,” she said.

Anis didn’t just have a passion for cooking; she was also good at it. She has won various international cooking competitions and multiple awards, including the notable Culinaire 2007. At 21, Anis had auditioned and got the part to host her own cooking show, Icip Icip.

In her newest TV show Kuali Bujang, Anis cooks for single people, including celebrities, and demonstrates for them the simple ways of cooking a great meal.

“I like to simplify things, to show people that cooking isn’t complicated. I want to show people that if I can do it, so can they. I also want to show that young people can cook.

“My favourite part of cooking is when it is done and (the food) being served, but not the cleaning up,” she said with a laugh.

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