Old School Favourites, New School Tastes: Dr. Leslie Tay

Over the last decade, Dr Leslie Tay has contributed much to the local food community. From photography, food consulting to concocting his blend of local flavours, this good doctor has a big heart not just for food but also for the people behind the food.

In recent years, he has been engaging various hawkers on how to improve their business.

“With regards to the hawkers, I help them when I can. If the food is not up to scratch I will sit down with them to give them some ideas on how to improve. Once it’s good enough, I will help to publicise their stalls through my social channels so that they will get some business. Hopefully, this form of kickstarting will help the hawkers turn the corner and begin to do well,” he shares.

Speaking of hacking food flavours and improving dishes, Dr Leslie Tay has his own take on a beloved traditional dish. In the pilot episode of Old School Favourites New School Taste, we invite him to retrace some of his old school roots, rekindling his loving school memories of mee siam and taking a new spin on this traditional dish for children.

1) Tell us a fond memory of eating at the tuckshop in school. What nostalgic elements still tug at your heartstrings?

My fondest memory was standing in front of the char kway teow stall waiting for my plate of char kway teow to be fried. That man who fries char kway teow was the only hawker opened on Saturday and so everyone who was doing their ECA would order from his stall. He must have served tens of thousands of students! When he adds the black sauce into the char kway teow, the smokey sweet smell erupts from the wok and you know that your plate of char kway teow is ready!

2) For this Indian style mee siam recipe you made, tell us which is the most important step to take extra care of or the dish might fail.

You need to make sure that you slowly fry the onions till the sugars have caramelised so that you get a good depth of flavour! Patience is the key!

3) What are your values in cooking and tell us how they translate into preparing food for children so parents can be inspired and consider them when making meals for their kids.

Natural food is always better than processed food, so when you cook everything yourself instead of buying a pre-cooked meal, it is more healthy for the whole family.

4) What’s your fondest memory of shopping at FairPrice with your parents and what did you always want to buy when you were a kid?

Oh, I remember buying those old school Kraft Cheese Spread that used to come in those pop-top glass bottles! I always love to spread it on bread with marmalade! In those days, there was a very limited selection of cheeses. They also had Kraft processed cheese in the blue boxes! Nobody had ever heard of brie, camembert, edam or gouda like what you can find at FairPrice nowadays!

5) If this dish was for an adult, what would you have done differently?

Nothing, except to serve it on a bigger plate.

Did You Know?

Food should be reheated the way it was cooked for safety and maximum flavour! Read more about it here.