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Petite chef Anis proves that size doesn't matter
Published on: Monday, July 06, 2015

Kuala Lumpur: Chef Anis Nabilah Umaruddin's entry into the culinary world was not without controversy.

Everything about her was a subject of scrutiny and debate among gossipmongers. Her size, her beauty, her age and even her cooking skills all came into question.

The pettiness of such naysayers baffled the petite 29-year-old, but she took it all in her stride.

Her perseverance has definitely paid off. Today, not only is she the host of her own cooking show, she has also been given the honour of cooking for the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah during the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Big Kitchen Festival at Dataran Merdeka, here, recently.

"I started my journey in culinary studies in 2004. Many thought I would not pull through because of my size.

"This is because they have this misperception that one needed to be tall and stocky to work in the kitchen. Perhaps so that it would be easier to carry the heavy pots and pans," said the five-footer, who preferred to be called Anis.
Many also believed that her level of stardom had more to do with her looks than culinary skills.

"I really dislike it when people say that it does not matter whether I can cook well, all that matters is that I have a pretty face.

"That feels like an insult to me. Cooking is my passion," she asserted.

Anis's exposure to the culinary world started when she was eight.

Her mother made it a habit to bring young Anis and her eight siblings into the kitchen to watch her prepare food and help out with little tasks.

Raising a large family with eight daughters and a son has made her mother more creative in the delegation of tasks, particularly in the kitchen.

Her mother would give each of them a different coloured bowls with different ingredients that when mixed together would make a marble cake.

"Such fun and memorable experiences are what cultivated my love for cooking. It made me brave enough to try making an omelette by myself when I was 10. And from then on, there was no looking back.

"You could say that I've been cooking every day since. My parents gave me a lot of support and bought the ingredients I needed. If I failed, they would encourage me to try again. It has come to the point that I feel life is good only when I'm cooking," she said.

While in college, Anis entered herself into various international level cooking competitions in the bid to prepare and expose herself to the culinary world.

She seized every opportunity to hone and test her culinary skills, including going to the audition of the Asian Food Channel cooking programme Icip-icip.

She won the audition and made her debut into the world of television show hosting through Icip-icip.

Her enthusiasm in the kitchen and fun style of cooking soon made her a household name and enticed more networks to offer her the chance to host other cooking shows.

Among them are Enak Tradisi, Sesedap Rasa and Selera.

Despite getting so much airtime, Anis said she never saw herself as a celebrity chef. She viewed the opportunity to host cooking shows as a platform to brush shoulders with internationally renowned chefs.

According to Anis, hosting cooking shows on TV was a chance to share knowledge with the world.

"My mother always said to make a difference in the world in whatever I choose to do, ensure that I contribute something to the community. I see such TV programmes as an opportunity for me to do so.

She said even if she had not become a chef, she would have worked towards becoming an educator because of her passion in sharing knowledge.

On being chosen as one of the chefs to prepare a special meal for the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Anis said she was more than honoured by the selection. "This is the first time I have been given such honour, along with four other chefs. "We worked together to prepare a special recipe, the Rendang Scotch Egg." – Bernama

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