The 27 year-old Quantity Surveyor ventured into the business only about a month ago at the traditional house of the Dusun Tatana at Hongkod Koisaan KDCA not just to promote the community’s traditional food but also to ensure it does not go extinct.
She does not mind sacrificing time after work hours to operate the eating outlet that serves a variety of delicious Dusun Tatana food which she used to have almost in every family meal when she was younger.
“I’m a Dusun Tatana. This is the kind of food I ate every day, including breakfast.
But I missed them when I moved to Kota Kinabalu to pursue my studies. I only have them when I return to my village during the holidays,” she said.
She said her personal favourite is the “ambuyat”, a dish derived from the interior trunk of the sago palm.
Other food served at her outlet she named “Baloi Tatana@KDCA” include friend “basung” fish, jack fruit cooked in coconut milk, peppered salted fish and all kinds of local vegetables.
Her place also serves sago worms and other mouth-watering side dishes such as “bambangan”, “tuhau” and “hinava”.
According to Cecilia, although some of the dishes are common in other indigenous communities, the Dusun Tatana people have their own unique way in making them.
She said she felt called to promote her people’s traditional food because the Dusun Tatana is only a small community in Sabah.
“I’m passionate about culture including my own. I’m aware that many elements of culture have been lost and will continue to unless we do something to preserve.
For me, I want to preserve my people’s food,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) announced last week that the public can now visit traditional houses at the Hongkod Koisaan to explore the cultural heritage products of the indigenous communities in Sabah every Saturday.
All kinds of community products including foods and drinks will be on sale by various communities every Saturday in all the eleven traditional houses of the indigenous communities at the venue. Guests can also expect to see some cultural dances and songs performed by their hosts.
Cecilia’s place however opens every day except on Monday.