Celebrity Chow with local actress-singer Cheryl Wee

Celebrity Chow with local actress-singer Cheryl Wee

If Cheryl Wee could have her way, she would choose to have most of her meals at home in the company of her dearest family members.

Over lunch at laidback eatery Sunset Bay Range Bistro in Toa Payoh East on Tuesday, the gregarious 26-year-old local actress-singer overturned whatever preconceived notions I had of her.

It is easy to dismiss Wee as a pampered rich kid.

After all, her parents are Mervin Wee and Jean Yip, high-profile owners of Jean Yip Group, which operates more than 50 hair and beauty outlets islandwide.

But Wee - who plays a nurse in the new Channel 8 drama series The Caregivers, which premiered on Wednesday at 9pm - is anything but a food snob.

She adores hawker fare, is an avid baker ("I can bake chocolate cupcakes and banana caramel walnut tarts"), and to my surprise, does not namecheck chi chi restaurants.

"My parents entertain a lot outside, so whenever we have the opportunity to eat together, they prefer to cook," she said, while tucking into a sumptuous spread of mango bruschetta, Eurasian devil's curry and oxtail stew.

"My dad does the best fried Hokkien mee and my mum loves experimenting with different types of cuisine, be it Italian, Peranakan, Thai, Chinese or Indian.

"Eating at home is great too because we get to bond and chit-chat till midnight. You can't do that anywhere else."

Do you live to eat, or eat to live?

I definitely live to eat! I'm a huge foodie.

I will download apps, read food blogs, look at food pictures on Instagram, flip magazines and take down the names of cafes, restaurants and hawker stalls I want to visit. (Proceeds to show this reporter her long list of eating places in her phone.)

And all these are just places in Singapore.

From desserts to savoury snacks, I love them all. I exercise because I want to enjoy my food. My biggest dream would be to eat and eat and never grow fat. (Laughs.)

What food do you never get tired of eating?

I'm a carbo lover, so claypot chicken rice is one of my favourites. It's a very Cantonese dish and definitely my comfort food.

My dad's Hokkien mee is another. To me, his Hokkien mee is THE best. It's so good that I don't ever order Hokkien mee outside, because I know it'll fail to match up to my dad's standard.

Also, my mum's pandan coconut cake is irresistible. She is extremely particular about using fresh ingredients, so she always buys freshly squeezed coconut and literally does everything from scratch.

Are you a fan of hawker fare?

Yes, absolutely! My family loves going to East Coast Lagoon Food Village as my dad likes Roxy Laksa, and the hawker centre at Block 85, Bedok North Street 4, which is famous for its bak chor mee.

I remember pigging out with a girlfriend there after my one-month location shoot in Batam (for Channel 5 crime drama Mata Mata). There were only two of us, but we finished a whole table of food, including bak chor mee, sambal stingray, oyster omelette, black char kway teow and chicken wings.

I also like the rojak at Old Airport Road Food Centre.

Any memorable overseas food encounters?

Seven years ago, I went on a free-and-easy one-week holiday in Tokyo with 23 relatives. Our group was so big, but everyone had to rely on my aunt Dawn (referring to 90s local singer Dawn Yip) to get around the city, as she is the only one among us who could speak Japanese.

Anyway, it was memorable because while my relatives feasted on yakiniku (grilled meat), tempura (deep-fried vegetables and seafood) and tonkatsu (pork cutlet) every day, throughout my stay in Tokyo, I ate plain soba soup!

It happened that I was preparing for a casting and needed to lose some weight upon my return to Singapore. I had to give all my favourite sweets such as strawberry shortcake a miss. I had only one cheat day, where I ate a tiny black sesame mochi (rice cake).

Where would you go for a romantic date?

Once, we celebrated my dad's birthday on a yacht. We set off from Keppel Bay and went out to Lazarus Island. The food was catered from Prive. Nothing really fancy, we had mushroom soup, pasta, salad, a fish. It's really romantic, because in the evening, we could see the sunset. My dad, brother and uncle went for a swim in the sea, while the rest of us stayed "indoors" to watch DVDs. It was a nice family trip for us, but I'm sure it would make a lovely romantic date too!


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