She may be the glamorous host of a brand new food show on TV, but Michelle Loo is actually best known as the "Mother of Paparazzi" in Hong Kong.
She is unfazed by the label that has stuck despite having switched career for 10 years.
Loo, 49, told The New Paper in Hong Kong-accented English: "I don't mind the name even though I know no one really appreciates the paparazzi. But to me, it's just a form of getting a story."
She drew a comparison to a knife.
"If it is in a surgeon's hand, the scalpel is a tool that could save a life. But put it in the hands of a criminal and it could kill. So, being a paparazzi is just a job, please," she said.
Loo was in Singapore recently to promote the new three-part TLC series, My Taste Of Hong Kong.
The series is a collaboration between the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific.
Singapore audiences will be taken on a gastronomic journey in Hong Kong as Loo and six of Asia's rising chefs, including our own, Brandon Foo and Shen Tan, soak in the versatile and vibrant lifestyle experiences.
It is Loo's latest role in a 30-year career.
She started as a rookie with the now-defunct Affairs Weekly and became the deputy chief editor of tabloid magazines East Week and Next.
Her name, at one point, struck "fear" in some of Hong Kong's stars.
But this is all water under the bridge, maintained Loo, who has also been a radio deejay, a columnist, an actress and a TV host.
One of Loo's biggest stories was on star couple Carina Lau and Tony Leung.
Loo was responsible for revealing Lau's alleged cheating with a younger lover while the couple were still dating.
Loo chuckled as she recalled: "Carina and I were in the same movie last year (Bends, where Loo had a bit role) and so we saw each other in the room every day. But nothing nasty happened."
Of course, it helped that the star couple got married in 2008.
But the expose took her more than a year to uncover. She recalled how, at a gathering, a close friend had pointed out a young man to her.
"There was this guy, really handsome, and I was told that he is Paul Lee's son. I know Paul personally and I was like, wow, the little boy has grown up," she said.
"Then, my friend asked, 'Do you know who he is having an affair with? It's Carina Lau'."
With a dramatic flair, Loo said: "I was like, oh my god, if I am the mother (of the young man), I'd surely want to die.
"My husband and my son, both fooling around with the same woman. That was my initial reaction."
Loo admitted that "when you get this kind of information, you get very excited".
"In this case, it was even more explicit because I know the father, I know the son and I knew of the earlier relationship," she said.
Loo gestured as she continued: "I was like a shark. I could smell blood. I was excited, but I also knew I needed to plan. We finally got the whole story, but we didn't have the most important thing: Photos.
"There was no social media back then and of course, getting the photos was not easy. But I waited. Patiently."
The break came when another friend called to tip Loo off that Lau and the young man were at a party.
On Nov 2, 2000 came the sizzling story of how, after a post-Halloween party, Lau, then 35, allegedly invited Sherman Lee, a hotshot financial executive in his 20s, to spend the night in the May Tower apartment she shared with Leung.
Details of Sherman's father Lee Lum Fok's alleged affair with Lau from a long time ago - he was supposedly her first love in 1983 - also emerged in the same report.
Two weeks later, Leung, then 38, was photographed lugging a suitcase out of May Tower and moving back to his mother's home.
Lau and Leung reconciled about six months later.
But, Loo stressed: "In all my years as a paparazzi, there was one principle I stuck to - never report an untruth. And that meant, for all the stories and expose, I made sure that there were photos produced as evidence."
Trust, too, is very important.
"You must never betray your sources or squeal on them. That is how you build up your network of contacts," she said.
This article was first published on Oct 7, 2014.
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