Who? Unless you follow the Masterchef US closely, in all probability, you would not have heard of Sharone Hakman. Which is rather unfortunate. Because, as it turns out, he really is quite "star quality", so I was glad I made the right choice to attend this rather last minute invite, by my dear friend Carole, of Sailena Yeop PR Company, and chose to leave the dull humdrum grindstone of Monday blues at the office. Okay, it didn't require much arm twisting...day at the office, vs the thought of going grocery shopping with a celebrity chef, albeit one I was unfamiliar with.
We gathered at that coffee place in B.I.G. (Ben's Independent Grocers, Publika). Incidentally, I am a new BIG convert. I used to regard that place with a certain amount of apprehension, like it was too "atas" for plebians like me, and I would tread with caution, lest I accidentally knock over a shelf of Tetsuya Truffle Salt (which costs RM100++ per jar), and spend my whole life repaying the damage. But recently, I found actually the place does have things spread over a wide spectrum in pricing, so really, something for everyone, and the variety in B.I.G. is astounding. My hats off to Benjamin Yong, a true entrepreneur, and my hero and idol.
Newlyweds, Aly and Lil Chef (Michael Elfwing of Senses, KL Hilton, and celeb chef in his own right) and Ciki of CC Foodtravel were also there, as were two other friends who had scored a lucky draw on FB, to get two coveted spots for this event.
Waiting for the Star to appear.
We get to follow the guy around B.I.G. grocery shopping. He is particularly impressed with the smoked garlic, as he's never seen that before. At the fishmongers, he sniffs around and selects a red snapper, whilst at the greens, throws in some choy sum, snap peas, kafir lime leaf, leeks, bunga kantan (ginger flower), ginger...very random, not sure if it was orchestrated or really impromptu. It was like following an artist going paint shopping, as we wondered what canvas lay in store for us.
I am sure if he's ever out of a day job, them Hollywood agents would come a knocking. How nice to be able to grocery shop without having to worry about the price of stuff.
I was thrilled to note he selected an excellent slab of Wagyu Ribeye, I think which cost RM650/kg. If you zoom into the picture of the ginger on the lower right hand corner, you'd notice is actually says PRODUCE OF MALAYSIA. Ah, such moments make me proud to me Malaysian.
The many faces of Sharone Hakman. Incidentally, you can check out his official website HERE.
It's understandable that all the chicks were swooning over the guy. But like all good men, he's taken.
Ah, luckily we had our own Celebrity Michael Elfwing in the house, to "teach" Sharone how to use the induction cooker. (which apparently he dislikes)
He brandishes the chef knife the way a gladiator would brandish their swords.
And in the process, cuts himself, to prove that he is human, and if you prick him, does he not bleed. (Shakespeare). Nevertheless he is lovingly tended to.
He grates some orange zest to season the red snapper.
Benjamin in the background watches the star perform.
Some gula melaka, as a substitute for palm sugar.
For the fish sauce, he throws in the ginger, kafir lime leaf, lemon grass, ginger flower, into some hot grapeseed oil. After sauteeing the herbs for awhile, he adds coconut milk, and palm sugar, and an ethereal aroma fills the room. It would be almost impossible to quantify the ingredients, as he seems to go by feel, the way our grandmothers used to cook. A little bit this, a dash of that, and cups and spoons are exactly just that, cups for drinking, and spoons for scooping.
While waiting for the fish gravy to reduce, he prepares the steak, with a healthy dose of sea salt and cracked black pepper.
A crackly sizzling sound is what you want, when you lay your slab of meat on the hot pan.
And, he introduces us to the special BBQ sauce...synonymous with the man himself.
He lovingly pours out dollops of the sauce to accompany the perfectly done Wagyu Ribeye.
A quick stir fry of the vegetables...
And someone is caught red-handed nicking veggies from the pan....
He's a perfectionist, when it comes to plating. The gravy, with all the amazing local herbs and spices, followed by a layer of stir fried choy sum and snap peas, followed by the pan fried orange zest seasoned red snapper.
The final result of the Red Snapper's plating. The sauce was tangy, and really titillates the palate, and the fish, with the subtle hint of orange, is fried to perfection, ...our only grouse is, we only got a morsel each.
A cut like this should be medium rare, the way nature intended it. Totally melt in the mouth.
Some people get personally fed by the Chef....
While others have to content themselves by just standing next to him. And does he tower over ...
Must tumpang glamour a bit la. (translation: Need to whore around)
Fortunately, as with all Ben's events, there is always plenty of grub and plonk, and we are treated to a lovely lunch at BEN'S GENERAL FOOD STORE. Lovely prawn on Paku Kerabu...
Reminds me of a picture in flavours magazine, where all the who's who of the culinary world in KL were seated on one table...
This is THE Ben, ...as can be seen from the sign behind him. Product placement is important.
Unfortunately for me, I had to bolt after the nyonya laksa, which was very nice. Thick curry coconut soup, with lovely condiments.
Trying to look intelligent and asking intelligent questions. If Hugh Jackman were Mexican, would he be Hugh Hakman, like you? (no, I did not ask that).
Anyway, it was a jolly enjoyable way to spend a Monday afternoon.
Thanks Carole for the most pleasant surprise of an invite, and to Ben of course, for being the ever gracious host.