It’s What’s Inside That Counts
“There’s a deep seated spot in my soul that physically hurts when I see hungry people.”
“I was just hungry,” says Angela May. Perhaps in jest. Perhaps in earnest. But I am inclined to think it’s a bit of both, blended together like two ingredients collaborating to lure the best out of each other, to create something new, unearth fresh possibilities and perspectives, to nuance.
My question to the avid foodie (her titles run like a Game Of Thrones somebody — chef, culinary director, host of prestigious gastronomic events Bocuse d’Or and the World Pastry Cup in France, feeder of hungry people) was: How did you discover your love of food and cooking?
She expounds with a cute story. “I grew up in the US where kids had a lot of freedom. Both my parents worked, so I was often left alone in the house. One day after school, I wanted cinnamon sugar donuts. So, I fried myself a batch using some pre-made dough from the fridge. They were horribly undercooked in the middle, but that didn’t stop me from rolling the cooked parts in cinnamon sugar and having a treat.”
Those undercooked cinnamon sugar donuts turned out to be the seed of a dream that would blossomed into her oversized love of food — cooking it, creating it and eating it. “I love everything about the experience of eating, from sitting down with friends and chatting over food, and the food itself. I just felt
the need to feed people,” she goes on. “There’s a deep seated spot in my soul that physically hurts when I see hungry people.”
We are at the new L’Entrecote. It sits pretty by the Collyer Quay-side. It is a little after 2pm. The lunch service is coming to an end, and the last customers are footing their bill, and heading out into a sun-soaked Monday in May. Cue for us to get started on what we’ve convened for: A photo shoot with our chef du jour, who’s about to treat us to a smoothie-making demonstration (and feed us afterwards, no doubt). On the menu: “Hello, Sunshine”, a peachy summer smoothie she created exclusively for us.
This is the first story and recipe to be featured in our latest series, “It’s What’s Inside That Counts”, in collaboration with Porcelain. The idea is to serve up a little tasty reminder for all of us to look beyond the façade of things or people. Look closer for details, for meaning, for truth. Ask questions. Be aware of what you allow in and near your body, mind and soul. There’s more than meets the eye more often than we think. I guess what we are trying to say is, quite simply: Be mindful of your choices.
In my conversation with Angela, she offered a gander of what goes on inside her kitchen, her food, diet and skincare.
What kind of chef are you?
Angela: Quiet and meticulous. I never yell. Honestly, I almost never need to yell. My team and I know each other so well that we can communicate almost solely on quiet head nods and narrowed eyes. I love my team.
Feeding people is quite a big responsibility, isn’t it? A good meal can make someone’s day and comfort them. The opposite is also true in that a bad meal can ruin it. When you’re creating a recipe, planning a menu, or cooking, what is it that you hope to achieve with your food?
Angela: Ohhh, this is not very black and white. I often plan recipes and menus for my clients, so the first thing to consider is always the client. I consider what they like, what their lifestyle is, and why they came to me in the first place — are they looking for something feminine or healthy, for example? I always hope to achieve an evening that flows well, has conversation points and nourishes people’s bodies and spirits.
“I always hope to achieve an evening that flows well, has conversation points and nourishes people’s bodies and spirits.”
< Peach is one of the key ingredients used in this cleanser.
It goes without saying that it is the ingredients that make a dish. Do you have any favourites that are regulars in your recipes?
Angela: Cauliflower has been one of my stars for the past three years. I also tend to use a lot of Szechuan pepper, mint and lemon zest.
So, thank you for coming up with this summer smoothie recipe for us. Why did you pick peach as the main ingredient for the smoothie?
Angela: Peaches are such a great summer fruit. They smell amazing, and have a blush that screams summer. (Editor’s note: Peaches are a great source of Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant. They are used in skincare products because they’re known to help reduce wrinkles, improve overall skin texture and fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution.)
What kind of an eater are you? I mean, is your eating philosophy similar to your cooking philosophy?
Angela: I’m a flexitarian. I love a great binge every now and then. I give in to cravings when the moment strikes, but I’ve been eating clean and healthy for so long that I hardly ever crave processed food, which I think is one of our worst enemies. Most of the time I eat small meals and try to make sure there’s a lot of variation in my diet. I keep carrots and easy snack food in fridge, so if I find myself just wanting a nibble, there is something there that doesn’t require any cooking. It also means I don’t have an excuse to eat a bag of chips.
“Our skin is our biggest organ. I’m crazy careful about anything that goes on my skin.”
What we put in our body is a topic of increasing importance. So is what we choose to put on our body. How mindful are you when it comes to ingredients in your skincare products? What do you look out for and what do you avoid?
Angela: This is a huge topic. Our skin is our biggest organ. I’m crazy careful about anything that goes on my skin. I moisturise like crazy. I like hyaluronic acid under my facial cream, and SPF over in the day. At night, I’m a huge fan of Vitamin C serums, and I layer that with facial oils. And of course, drink loads and loads of water.
We’ve talked about the importance of ingredients in food and skincare products. Now, let’s talk about what’s inside a person that counts. In your opinion, what do you consider to be the most admirable qualities in a person?
Angela: A sense of humour, drive and determination.
What are the “key ingredients” in you that make you, you?
Angela: Hahahaha, maybe it’s my sense humour, drive and determination.
“Hello, Sunshine” — concocted with nourishing ingredients you’ll find in a few of Porcelain’s products, such as the Soothe Hydro Cleanser and Hydrocare Bio Cellulose Mask — is available at the Porcelain Origins café as part of their summer menu until July 31. Show this story to a friendly Porcelain staff to enjoy S$3 off.