I was born in 1957. My parents gave me a very complicated name – 談 嬡 賢 and as a child, I had a hard time writing my Chinese name. When I needed an English name for school, I chose a simple and easy one -- Jenny.
I attended the Sacred Heart Canossian College and St. Stephen's College in Stanley. After Form 4, I moved to Saskatoon in Canada to further my studies, but unfortunately during my first year at university, I had to return home for family reasons. I then took an executive secretary training course while I was assisting my father's business at the same time.
I met my husband in Canada and we married in June 1982. After the marriage, I worked for a number of companies: the Tropicana Hotel's liaison office in Hong Kong, as a Senior Secretary for Motorola's personnel department; and the last job I had before I migrated to Canada was with 萬邦航運 as their Senior Officer in their Personnel and Administration Department.
My daughter Marilyn was born in 1987. When she was 2, we decided to emigrate to Canada, choosing Toronto as many friends were already there. My son Ryan was born there in 1992. My husband had to be stationed in Hong Kong and China for his business so we were often apart during that period. It was pretty tough for a woman to bring up a new born baby and a little girl without help, so we eventually decided to move back to Hong Kong in order to be together.
Time flew by and we made another move. This time the decision was driven by the children's education. After 9/11 and SARS, we thought Toronto would be a better choice for us. My daughter is now in the final year of her studies in Hotel Management. My son is in an IB course, Grade 11. My husband is still flying between Hong Kong, China, Japan, US…but at least he is with us every 2 months. He's planning to stay more and longer each time now.
When I turned 50, I told myself I should plan for my last phase of my life. With the children grown I could have more time to be active in the community as a volunteer and to take different classes to develop my skills and interest. I found cooking to be a lot of fun and discovered that this is also one of my hidden talents (I'm proud to say!). I am lucky to have met and followed my teacher Mrs. Lui who really taught me a lot. Another mentor, named Elizabeth, taught me about cakes and pastries; she owns a cake shop here. Even though I had taken some short courses at TownGas and one of the cooking schools (forgot the name, it's in North Point) in Hong Kong, I soon figured out that the more I learned, the more I realized how little I knew in this field.
I had a 奶媽 during my early childhood. She's the one who tuned me into cooking. She had been working for an expat family before she came to us, so she would cook some dishes that we would now call 'fusion'. I bitterly regret that I did not learn more from her as we were not permitted to enter her private kingdom (kitchen). But I can still remember some of her favourite dishes.
The second person who influenced me a lot was my housemate in Canada. She's my schoolmate's auntie but is only a few years older, and she enjoyed cooking very much. Whenever we had a gathering for the Chinese Students' Association, she would prepare BBQ pork buns, 腸粉, black sesame roll…all kinds of dim sum for us. I started cooking during that period and collecting recipes.
I believe cooking is a very simple, basic but important facet of our lives, for connecting our families, friends together in harmony. I always encourage the younger generation to get more involved with cooking. My daughter Marilyn has just started to build up an interest in baking. I love sharing my experience with others, helping others to enjoy the fun and success in their own cooking.
Born in London, to a Filipino father and an English mother, I grew up with food that was as diverse as it was delicious. My childhood was spent in the UK – with holidays in Cornwall (crumbly, buttery Cornish pasties), Portugal (grilled, silver-scaled sardines) and France (fresh crunchy baguettes and spicy sausage). My teenage years were spent in California where food was fresh, colourful and big! Satisfyingly smooth refried beans, punchy salsas, fish tacos, 3 foot pizzas and lemons, limes, oranges and figs picked straight from our trees in the garden.
Life in San Diego introduced me and my family to constant blue skies, sunshine, drive-through post offices, cheap petrol and Farmer's Markets – a new concept in the 90s. My mother would visit our local market every Saturday morning to buy multi-coloured eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, tiny courgettes with their orange blousy flowers that she would then cover in a light batter and deep fry, amongst hundreds of other foody delights. San Diego is also a haven for good Mexican food. A favourite haunt was Rubios – a small chain that churned out delectable fish burritos – lightly grilled white fish wrapped in a soft flour tortilla with a dollop of guacamole...so satisfying to eat.
My Filipino grandmother is an amazing and prolific cook. Her galley kitchen in San Diego is permanently infused with garlic where she (still) produces the most delicious fried rice, lumpia (Filipino spring rolls), pansit (a noodle dish with pork and shrimps) and chicken adobo, (chicken slow cooked in soy sauce and vinegar)...she enjoys nothing more than cooking for her hungry grandchildren.
A very different food arena exists in the UK. Sunday roasts, seasonal fruit and vegetables, rustic cuts of meat and steamed puddings for me conjure up true British food. My mother-in-law is an aspiring cook and producer, constantly experimenting in her kitchen and growing all her own fruit and vegetables (including garlic, onions and all types of herbs), baking her own wholemeal bread. We even enjoy meat reared on their farm – North of England mules and Aberdeen Angus cattle have provided many a delicious mutton roast and beef stew.
Now living in London, fast becoming the epicentre for gastronomic experiences, I live with my husband who is a fantastic cook with a natural palate for throwing ingredients together. My job writing about food for the Telegraph Magazine introduces me to the latest restaurants, food and kitchen shops, as well as the small producers around the UK who are trying to earn a living from making small batches of quality produce – whether it's thick-cut marmalade, hard goats cheese, organically – reared pork sausages or the gooiest chocolate cake – it's this knowledge that I would like to share with you on Anniewithfriends.com.
Stanton Orser is a writer and consultant living in Michigan, USA. For him, cooking is a creative outlet, but he came to it for far more practical reasons. Growing up as one of five sons, he learned early on that if he cooked he didn't have to clean. And then as a young man living on his own, he found that he could cook for his friends for less than the cost of going out with them. He continues to love food, flavors and every aspect of cooking – finding ingredients, trying new recipes, learning new techniques. But mostly he enjoys the excuse for gathering family or friends together around the table for fellowship, laughter, and a taste of something new.
Asian female born in HongKong currently residing in Vancouver. Cook all kinds of cuisines. Very curious about different sauces created around the world that cooks use. Love food, traveling and portrait photography.
Jyoti Khemlani was born in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and has been living in HK for 24 years. She is a housewife but keeps very busy working with a number of charities. She is a great cook and has slowly – very slowly -- turning vegetarian since 1993! She is a follower of Dada J P Vaswani who preaches peace, grace and compassion; his teachings providing insights on how to live a good life in our modern world full of stress, fear, anxiety and despair by affirming one's faith. Is it any wonder then that she is a very warm and loving person?!