Shen Tan

Food has always been a way of showing love.

Food has always been a way of showing love, it is also the best way for families to gather and share their day with each other. My mother always made it a point to feed me well, and growing up, I spent a lot of time with my extended family over home cooked meals.

When my parents divorced when I was eight, we moved in with my maternal grandmother. She took it upon herself to cook my favourite dishes in order to fatten me up. I was a scrawny kid who didn't like to eat much. That changed with my grandmother's fantastic home cooked meals with ingredients purchased fresh from the market every morning.

When I had a career change in 2008 and became a hawker, I channelled that same love of food and family togetherness into creating the best nasi lemak I could ever cook.

That little hawker stall at Maxwell Market brought my family even closer together. I would have to be up by 5.00am to cook the nasi lemak and would often be tired by late afternoon. My mother and two aunts would come and help out at the hawker stall with service and cleaning up. They also helped me with food deliveries and myriad errands and tasks.

It was crazy hard work but I learnt so much about cooking and running your own little business. My mother and aunts never stopped encouraging me and were always there with their unwavering support.

I will never forget the first time we were in the newspapers; we had massive crowds and were sold out in an hour. There were some pretty unhappy people who had queued only to be told that we were sold out. We were pretty frazzled, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in the world.

Sharing that time with my family will always be one of the most amazing times in my life.
Shen Tan