The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur,
168, Jalan Imbi,
Tel: 03-2142 8000
General manager of Tiffany & Co in Malaysia, Marianne Liow adds lustre to her life with good food and cooking.
MARIANNE Liow’s palate is as multi-faceted as the precious jewellery that she markets in her capacity as the general manager of Tiffany & Co in Malaysia.
The tall and slender Malacca-born lady confesses to having a weakness for hot, spicy food, and readily melts at the sight of sweet, luscious dessert.
While Liow doesn’t have breakfast at Tiffany’s (an inane but frequently asked question she has to deal with the minute anyone realises which company she works for), she does entertain in style. The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur’s Li Yen Chinese restaurant is one of her favourite lunch spots.
“You must try Li Yen’s divine stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts and their durian pancakes – they’re my absolute favourites!” she enthuses.
When told she doesn’t look like someone who eats much, let alone cook, Liow is swift to dispel the notion.
“Oh, I love food! I can cook a wide variety of dishes but my best are sambal prawns, Kapitan’s curry and nasi lemak,” says Liow. “Cooking’s very therapeutic for me. It’s also an expression of my love for my family and friends. Nothing beats the happiness and satisfaction I feel when I see them enjoying my cooking.”
She continues: “My passion for food stems from my Nyonya grandmother whose home-cooked delicacies I miss dearly. I still remember her delicious popiah – making spring rolls is something that draws our whole family together. Steamboat is another dish that I’d always associate with family reunions. When it comes to chicken rice, my mother’s version is still the best because to me, it symbolises her love and care for us.”
After a hard day’s work, the food enthusiast winds down by watching the Asian Food Channel.
“Jamie Oliver’s my favourite celebrity chef because I find his cooking simple, fast and easy to follow. Plus he uses ingredients that are easily available.”
According to Liow, her Italian beau also shares her passion for food and all things culinary.
“My boyfriend’s an executive chef,” she divulges. “He often indulges me with a wide repertoire of dishes: baked artichokes, octopus salad with balsamic dressing and macarons. Whenever we travel, we can’t wait to explore every nook and corner for food before we visit the more touristy sites.”
Her favourite getaway destination is Chiangmai, Thailand, which is famed for its spicy cuisine.
“I also like Italy because the Italians put such a lot of passion into their food. I find pastas sexy – there are so many different sauces that make them taste wonderful!”
She admits, however, to experiencing withdrawal symptoms after going without chilli for two weeks on her recent Italian trip.
“I think it’s the Nyonya in me, having been raised on fiery-hot dishes from young. I’m so addicted that no meal is complete without some freshly cut chilli or sambal for me. Next time I will make sure I pack an ample supply of sambal and chilli in my luggage.”
Despite her easy-going attitude towards food, Liow gives strange, exotic stuff like offal, frog’s legs, ostrich, horse meat or creepy-crawlies a wide berth.
“Just the thought of them sends shivers up my spine,” she quips with an involuntary shudder.
Born with a sweet tooth, Liow says her greatest weakness is sweet dessert.
“I can never pass up on dessert! That’s why I love meeting clients for afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton’s plush Lobby Lounge. The cakes and dessert selection are just too irresistible!”
Such decadent indulgences naturally come at a price. To maintain her figure, Liow religiously works out at the gym thrice weekly. “Besides cutting down on refined carbohydrates, I watch what I eat on normal days like a hawk and avoid fried, oily food as much as possible.”
Sounds like pearls of wisdom.