Whoaa, it’s already March! Time really flies, isn’t it? We hope you’re ready for our next Stylechatter story because this one is going to be tantalizing *insert drooling emoji* Lucky for us, we got to see Ili in action when we met her for this interview (that means we get to taste her dish too!) Oh-kay, less talk and let’s skip to the interview.. so without further ado, Ili Sulaiman of the Dish by Ili:
1. Tell us about yourself, Ili… (what do you do, companies and brand under your name) I wear multiple hats, I am a TV Personality that runs a few digital cooking shows, guest appearances and cooking shows on TV for multiple channels (AFC, Astro, NatGeo, Food Network Asia) I also run an online foodie platform that shares tips and tricks for cooking, travel and lifestyle pieces on www.dishbyili.com. My third business is also within F&B and giving educational services to youth from all backgrounds under the Agak Agak Initiative belt. We run training under our AA+ program that covers digital and hands on practical knowledge in Service, Kitchen and Management training within the Hospitality realm.
2. When do you realize your interest in food and cooking? At a very young age. I remember spending so much time with my mum in the kitchen growing up. I was a very curious child so instead of mum saying ‘No’ when I wanted to be in the kitchen, she allowed me to help her in the kitchen. My earliest memories of me in the kitchen was as young as 7 years old, helping her prep vegetables and cleaning prawns in my primary school uniform.
3. Where did you learned to cook and tell us more about your foodie businesses? I learnt how to cook from my family, neighbours and families of my friends whom I spend my childhood with. With no culinary training, my foundations of learning how to cook came from mums, dads, aunts, uncles, neneks, poh poh’s and toks. I learnt family tips and tricks, complex family recipes and secrets that have shaped the way I cook today. My foodie business(es) incorporates all the things I am most passionate about:
- Malaysian food in all its amazingness, variety, deliciousness, glory, culture and tradition – which I do through my website www.dishbyili.com
- Putting Malaysian food on the world map through my shows on channels as well as digitally and sharing these recipes through the website
- Uplifting the industry by providing proper training and skills to those who are passionate about this industry through Agak Agak Initiative
4. Chefs usually have their cooking trademark they’re known for, how would you describe yours? I cook using the Agak-Agak method which is all about feeling the food and the way you cook. I do not have exact measurements of my recipes written down, its more like a feeling and maybe that’s why people enjoy watching my shows, its because I cook as how most people cook at home. It’s relatable and its easy to follow because I uncomplicate, complicated recipes and simplify it. I understand that the modern cook they do not have the luxury of time. I also understand that they do have the access to equipment and kitchen utensils that can ease the cooking process so why not use it. I would say my trademark is mixing a little of the old traditional way of cooking Malaysian food with a new mordern take.
5. Of all the dishes you cooked, which one do you find the most exciting? Family recipes. I feel that family recipes are the foundations of ones family legacy. If you do not learn your family recipes and share it with your loved ones, they will too be gone one day. I also love people so the best way to get to know someone is to cook something they grew up eating. Recipes that evoke childhood emotion is the best kind of food.
6. Can you share with us a day of life as Ili Sulaiman? Depending on the day but here is a run down:
7am – I usually wake up at about 7am and either I head to the market (if I have a shoot or and cooking event) or I wake up a little later
8.30am – Central Kitchen to place the items for prep and check in with Kitchen Team
9.30am – Gym/yoga or appointment with osteopath (You need to invest in your well being, I go to the gym or do yoga 3 times and see my osteopath once a week)
10.30am – 5pm – Start my working day. So my work can be anything that includes being at photoshoots, team/client meetings, appearances at launches, cooking demo’s, Check in with my team and my manager Jihan etc.
6.00pm – My day ends and I usually head home. I actually love cooking at home so even if I will be cooking at work all day, I will still head home to cook my meal for dinner
8.00pm – I work on my laptop until 10pm to read emails and finish up the days work
10.00pm – In bed watching netflix
7. Any advice for all the chef-to-bes out there? Know that what you are getting into is hard, hard, hard work. It may seem glamorous but it is not at all. You will also need to understand that the hours are long and its requires, physical, emotional and mental strength. However, if you are driven by passion, have a ‘can do’ attitude, are the type that thrives on of bettering yourself because you are a quick learner and you have the financial backing then go for gold. If your a home cook that is afraid of getting into the kitchen, start small. Perfect your nasi goreng before you start doing a briyani gam. The foundations of being a good cook starts from your palate and what you enjoy cooking. Once you have mastered that, you can start cooking for others and what they enjoying eating.
8. Any life mantra that you lived by? Do everything with complete Honesty (Ikhlas)
You may follow Ili Sulaiman and her businesses; Dish by Ili & Agak Agak Initiative on Instagram. Also style seen on Ili is MKITA Oversized Batwing Shirt in Blue in UK14 that is available for purchase online and all stores (Bangsar & Isetan KLCC) as well as FashionValet.