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Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

John Tan


Lean and mean

Article from the Sun daily by Yeevon Ong (posted on 20th Aug 2015)

SO what happens when you are born with good looks? You get booked. Runways after runways, John Tan has been modelling since he was in his second year at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) studying marketing. Upon graduation, Tan kept his stride in the fashion industry and did an internship with L'Oréal Malaysia.

While he was living the fast-paced life on and off the runways, Tan was also a fitness trainer specialising in Fast Fit which he took up about two years ago. He was also a personal trainer for a short period of time.

The 25-year-old Manhunt Malaysia 2012 winner has also written and published a coffee table book – John Tan 1 (read as John Tan First) – featuring extensive photos of Tan himself. The first part covers his journey for the perfect physique as well as his very own workout plans, daily diet, exercise tips and body part training while the second part is more intimate, revealing the thoughts and inspirations that drive the man behind the photogenic good looks.

Despite having established a name in the modelling industry, Tan is seeking another kind of satisfaction from the cameras. He is planning to exercise his chops in acting and aiming to be a regular on the big screen by 30.

Tell us about the book.

The idea came up just before I got signed with my manager. We thought that I was not ready to go into acting so we came up with the book as a branding exercise. All the recipes and home workout programmes in the first part of the book are my own. I was quite fat back then; 101kg was my heaviest before I started going to the gym to build my body.

How did you manage to lose so much weight?

I was 17 when I was 101kg but I was quite active even then. I joined a lot of co-curricular activities and did sports in school but my movements were very limited because of my body size so I wanted to change that. Also, it was time to enter university and I was determined to look better. It was a new phase of life and I wanted a new body for it. By then I lost about 20kg from jogging, badminton and going to the gym. That was when modelling agencies started to approach me on Facebook for castings.

What's your diet like these days?

I'm on a natural protein diet so no protein shakes for me. Currently I take about 10 eggs and two to three yolks a day. I was on 30 eggs a day when I was bulking up a few years ago. Also, I don't take sugar at all and Itake salt and oil in the minimum. Thestrict diet is to prepare myself for an upcoming shoot for a Penang-based Hokkien film.

Do you think your good looks are an advantage?

Yes, I think they are an advantage because people notice me first from my looks. In terms of modelling, that'show they find me. Looks are a stepping stone for me.

What goes through your mind when you walk the runway?

"Is this (modelling) what I really want to do?" Of course I do enjoy the stage and the outfit changes but the show is over in one or two minutes after walking, posing and returning backstage. I ask myself what I gain from it personally.

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:00

Elisa Khong


Soup kitchen for the soul

Article from the Sun daily by Ponnie Chin (posted on 8th Sep 2015)

GROWING up, Elisa Khong had two plans for herself — one was to be a  doctor, and the other was to learn the ropes from her father and take over  his business. But life took a slight twist in the other direction, when she  realised that there was more to this life than reaping wealth out of society.

Although she had always grown up with the influence of H.E. (His  Eminence) Tsem Rinpoche, Buddhistorganisation Kechara's spiritual  guide, it wasn't until she immersed herself in volunteer work that she  discovered first-hand how rewarding it is to help others.

Upon graduating from university in London, Khong moved to Beijing to  study Mandarin and also help out with her father's business. One year  later, she decided to come home for the Chinese New Year festivities. It  was during this break that she volunteered in all 13 departments in  Kechara.

"When I realised the kind of positive, deep and far-reaching impact with  the work that Kechara does, and I saw how people benefited from  Kechara helping them, there was a click," explained Khong. This moment of enlightenment told her that this was the path she should take, and she  has never looked back since she joined the organisation five years ago.

Putting your all into volunteer work at a young age is certainly a path less  taken, and not many were as understanding when Khong decided to go on  this journey. "People told me that I was crazy and that I was wasting my  parents' money," shared the 27-year-old. Many thought it was a phase or  a one-year sabbatical. But, as Khong explained, the negative talk stopped  when they realised that she was serious about it.

But how does she feel about going against societal norm and doing  volunteer work at such a young age – something many would only think of doing when they're older and retired?

 "I thought to myself – I'm young, I don't have any family or financial obligations and I'm not tied down by all the responsibilities most adults would face when they're 40 or 50 years old," she reasoned.

Tell us more about your work within Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK).

At KSK, we help the homeless – our clients, as we like to call them – physically as well as psychologically.

What we realised is that they need somebody to be there for them like a friend, as much as they need physical help. Letting them know that you're there to help them work through their psychological problems helps a lot.

We always thank our regular volunteers because they're familiar faces to our clients.

What do you aim to get out of working with KSK and helping your clients?

I want to be able to benefit more people. If we can reach out, we can help more people religiously, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.

A majority of the public looks down on these people and that's one thing that keeps them in that spot sometimes. They lose confidence and they don't feel worthy in society. Imagine us looking down on them – what gives us the right? They're lost and suffering; they just need a bit of help.

What is your most memorable incident working with clients?

There are so many! One of it would be this boy who came from a very small village in Sabah. He was conned by an agent who promised him a job in Kuala Lumpur but when they brought him here, they took his passport and all his money, and left him alone. He had no idea how to contact his family, so he had been living on the streets for six to seven years. When we found him, we managed to contact a local community council in Sabah, who contacted the village head, who then contacted the boy's family. Just like that, he was able to go home. And the whole connection only took three to four days!


Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 29 September 2015 00:00

Chef Norman Musa

A Malaysian Northerner in Northern England

Born and brought up in Butterworth, Penang, Norman Musa is the co-founder of Ning restaurant in Manchester in the North West of England, UK.

kampung boy by upbringing, he came to the UK in 1994 to train as a quantity surveyor at the University of Portsmouth. It was as a student that, despite his family’s restaurant and food stall business, he discovered that he did not know how to cook! Being a resourceful, tenacious sort, he was soon in regular touch with his late Mum who mentored him over the phone and when back home in Malaysia in the art of fabulous home cooking.

Working as a Quantity Surveyor first in Bournemouth and then London, he would regularly cook and host family-like feasts for all his Malaysian friends and their friends in the UK. They and his then business partner, Andy, observed the skill, passion and dedication by which he would not just expertly cook but creatively present his amazing food at such parties.

With such a passion for his native food and having been mentored in his cooking skills by his Mum, he and his friends started to dream about running a restaurant which would showcase the wonderful food that he grew up with. But it was not until 2003 when Norman moved Manchester that the dream became a reality. With the city centre changing fast with new apartments and urban dwellers, Manchester seemed to be a ripe for something new and different. 

A self-taught Master Chef brings Malaysian food to Britons

Ning restaurant was finally born in 2006 and since then Norman has shaped it into a critically acclaimed restaurant, which was nominated for Restaurant of the Year in 2009.

In 2007 Chef Norman launched his Malaysian cookery classes, which has given him the opportunity to promote Malaysian food to the locals and which have since proven phenomenally popular. Teaching his students how to cook classic dishes like Rendang, Gulai and Murtabak, he has also demonstrated Malaysian cooking at city food festivals and on TV.

Norman and Ning restaurant have appeared in well-known UK publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Time Out, and in Malaysian in The Star and on TV3, TV9 and Astro, including on In Person, Awani Pagi and Nasi Lemak Kopi O. His first TV appearance in the UK was on Market Kitchen with celebrity chefs Rachel Allen, Mark Sargeant and Matt Tebbutt

He has since gone on to host his own 13-episode TV series in Malaysia and feature as celebrity chef on MasterChef Malaysia in 2011. 

A global ambassador for Malaysian food in the fast lane

Norman’s ambition is to be a global ambassador for Malaysian cuisine. His goal was on track to being realised in 2010 with his appointment as Race Chef for the Lotus Racing (now Caterham) Formula One team. A prestigious opportunity, Norman was the first Malaysian chef in the first halal F1 kitchen at each race around the world.

During this time he cooked for the drivers, crew, VIPs including Nicole Sherzinger and HRH Prince Andrew, and the team's boss, Malaysian entrepreneur and QPR football club owner Tony Fernandes.

Since then he has passionately and energetically promoted Malaysian food back in the UK, through his involvement in the Malaysia Kitchen campaign,his cookery school, food festival appearances - including prestigious events such as Taste of London and BBC Good Food Show alongside the likes of John Torode and Rick Stein - and leading new research into Malaysia's culinary heritage.

His style and approach is unique. Characterised by colour, simplicity, freshness, quality and style – just like his self-published book that sold 7,500 – Chef Norman’s recipes are easy to follow and adapted to Western and global tastes that will help Malaysian food, the unsung hero of South East Asia, be ‘the next big thing’. 

Multi-talented contemporary approach founded on traditional culture

Perhaps Norman’s most significant achievement has been his ability to carefully balance authenticity with contemporary touches.

Whilst in the UK, Norman has developed his interest in traditional Malay culture and its culinary arts. Prior to opening the restaurant, he performed traditional dance at cultural festivals in the UK with a South East Asian performing arts group including to an audience of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

His other talents include interior design and fashion; and contemporary floral arrangements. 

With his love of music and entertainment, Norman has hosted well-known Malaysian singers and bands such as Ning BaizuraMawi and Estrella, as well as dignitaries including Malaysian Ministers and Royal Family. 

Norman Musa is a rapidly rising star and passionate advocate of Malaysian cuisine, both in Malaysia, UK and around the world. He is the One to Watch.

Norman remains a modest, approachable and friendly chef who always woos his audiences, students and customers in his own personable style wherever he goes. 














Published in Biographies
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