My ambition as cookery writer was initially to make Indonesian food more widely known, better appreciated and better cooked in whatever country I happened to be. In the past 20 years, my interest has broadened to include Thailand and other Asian countries, particularly those of Southeast Asia. I have published 12 cookbooks, made numerous contributions to magazines, conferences, and workshops, and have appeared on many TV and radio programmes.
Although, as a cook, I am more or less self-taught, I had many years of experience of cooking for dinners and parties (anything between 6 and 200 people) before I wrote my first book. I have always taken every opportunity I could get to talk to chefs and work in their kitchens, and I have read about, studied and cooked a great many dishes from just about every country in the world that has any reputation at all for its cuisine.
I have taken short courses at the Thai Cookery School at the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok, and at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxfordshire. I have worked as a guest chef at several restaurants and hotels, including the Hyde Park Inter-Continental and the Park Lane Hilton in London, the Hilton International in Adelaide, and the Inter-Continental in Sydney.
I have attended most of the Oxford Symposia on Food and Cookery, held annually at St Antony’s College or (more recently) at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, since the series began in 1980, have presented papers in most years, and completed three years as a Trustee. I have also attended similar gatherings in Turkey and, in 1993, 94 and 96, in Australia (at Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney). At the 1995 IACP Conference in San Antonio, Texas, I gave a workshop on Indonesian food and cooking.
I started giving cookery demonstrations in the 1970s, and gave many in my own kitchen when I had my shop in Wimbledon. I have also demonstrated, in London, at the Commonwealth Institute, Le Petit Théâtre de la Cuisine, the Cordon Bleu School, Prue Leith’s School of Wine and Food etc., and, in Ireland, at Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. During four visits to Australia, I gave demonstrations or workshops at Gas Cooking Schools in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, and at private cooking schools in Melbourne and Perth. I have also demonstrated at the Culinary Institute of New Zealand in Auckland, and at BPLP (the Indonesian Government’s hotel and tourism school) in Bandung, West Java. In the United States, I have given classes in New York at the French Culinary Institute and Peter Kump’s School, and at the Culinary Institute of America in St Helena, California.