I still eat everything: Chew Chor Meng

I still eat everything: Chew Chor Meng

I still eat everything.

These words, spoken by local veteran TV actor Chew Chor Meng, were simple yet succinctly powerful.

Over an early lunch with the 44-year-old MediaCorp star at Klapsons Hotel's chic bistro, The Sleeping Rhino, on Monday, I was bowled over by his radiance and positivity.

Chew's five-year battle with Kennedy's Disease - a debilitating and incurable illness that leads to spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy - has been well-documented in the media.

He also developed diabetes about three months ago.

Anxious about his medical condition, I chose the healthiest items on the restaurant's menu, including herbal chicken, salmon fillet, as well as a delectable salad of fresh avocado, mango and prawns.

It turns out my worries were unfounded.

"Of course I watch my diet, but I believe in eating moderately," stressed the father of two girls, age 11 and nine.

"I love hawker fare like char kway teow, fried chicken and oyster omelette. Till today, I eat them from time to time.

"Life is short. If I totally cut such delicious food out, I'd feel very miserable."

Chew is filming Channel U's new 13-parter culinary-themed drama series Served H.O.T., where he plays a talented but corrupt, down-and-out chef. The show is slated to premiere on Jan 9 next year.

M finds out if he's an expert at handling the wok and saucepan in real life.

Are you a great cook and what are your trademark dishes?

I'm quite fickle-minded when it comes to cooking. (Laughs) I'd be enthusiastic one minute, and the next minute, I might have lost interest.

That said, I make very good soya beancurd. An Australian friend of mine gave me the recipe and the whole process takes half an hour (excluding freezing time in the refrigerator), it's really very easy.

My kids like it and say it measures up to industry standards.

Being a true blue Teochew Ah Pek (Chinese for uncle), I can also cook Teochew porridge quite well. It's basically porridge with egg and fermented black beans.

How about your wife? Does she cook often?

No, she doesn't. But, sometimes, she makes Japanese curry for us.

What are some of your family's favourite dining places?

Hawker food is my favourite and, like most Singaporeans, we like Chomp Chomp (in Serangoon Gardens). For rojak, we go to Whampoa market and for oyster omelette, we'd head to Toa Payoh.

Street food is definitely my kind of thing, even when I'm overseas. I like Hong Kong dim sum in cha chan tengs (teahouses) and smelly tofu at Taiwan's night markets.

Do you allow your daughters to cook?

Yes, they can enter the kitchen and do simple dishes like porridge and udon noodles, but they must be supervised by our maid at all times.

For a guy in his mid-forties, you look great! How do you maintain your boyish charm?

I don't know! (Laughs) It could be due to the fact that I hardly do late nights. Even when I was single, I didn't like clubbing. It's just too noisy and rowdy for me.

We are concerned about your health. Has your condition stabilised and are you in a happy place now?

Yes, everything's okay. My illness hasn't worsened and that's good enough. Back in 2008, I was given only two years to live, so it's already a miracle that I'm still (alive). Now, I live fearlessly and I feel peace inside.

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