From her modelling days to doing the job with big names like filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai in Hong Kong, Danielle Peita Graham talks about her journey in rebranding herself as an all-spherical culinary entrepreneur.
Danielle exudes an air of self confidence so easy that some might feel intimidation in approaching her. With her commanding existence, she navigates our photoshoot dressed in sophisticated FENDI with relieve and minor direction.
Right before our interview began and our preliminary introductions have been accomplished, I knew we have been in the presence of a food savant. Just one simply cannot assistance but recognize Danielle’s obvious adore for foods as she fawns about her bowl of consider-absent Thai glass noodles, casually chatting away on how significantly she enjoys spicy Thai food, owning used some time in Thailand for perform and journey.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, to a Malaysian-Chinese mother and an Irish father, Danielle was elevated in Australia ahead of she returned to Asia – Hong Kong in unique – to make her mark as a prosperous design who adorned several magazine covers. Probably her most recognisable stint would be her Olay ads. Some others also bear in mind her as Nurse Danielle in the Nicholas Tse and Stephen Fung starrer 2002, as effectively as the Wong Kar-Wai directed DJ Shadow music online video, Six Days.
Danielle recounts her childhood reminiscences rising up with her dad and mom who performed a huge section in nurturing her passion to what it is today. “I was exposed to cooking at a very young age. I grew up in the kitchen area aiding both equally my mom and dad following university. My dad taught me to make mashed potatoes when I was 8 yrs previous and my mum her famous fried rice,” states Danielle with a smile.
Her childhood nostalgia has made her a firm believer in often producing residence-cooked foods for her family members in Malaysia. To be certain that they get the proper equilibrium of nutrition in their bodies, Dannielle has taken demand to assure they constantly eat healthily. “It is truly critical to me. The foodstuff we eat truly sets the tone for who we are,” says Danielle.
This resolve of hers has managed to instil interest and impressive culinary competencies in both of her young children Ben, who is 11 decades outdated, and Sophia, who is 9. It is a feat of remarkable measure in this day and age, particularly when kids are tougher to pry absent from the a lot of screens that they are exposed to and Danielle agrees wholeheartedly.
“It is a lifestyle ability realizing how to cook dinner! It is survival! I’m thankful that both of those my little ones have taken a keen desire in cooking,” she states. Ben’s speciality is cooking steaks, though Sophia has not too long ago “graduated” from working with a kid’s knife to an adult one particular, and this, suggests Danielle, brings her excellent motherly pleasure.
Rebranding herself from a product to a chef was not as hard as she imagined. Danielle claims that the shift was astonishingly purely natural for her. Having accumulated recipes she designed considering the fact that 18 several years of age when she was living by itself in her apartment in Hong Kong, as nicely as recipes handed down by her spouse and children, she lastly took the leap of faith and self-published her to start with cookbook, On The Desk At House, in 2016.
“Being a mum through the pandemic is also like staying the teacher, referee and chef. As a girl there are so lots of roles that we continuously require to participate in.”
That includes household-cooked but restaurant-worthy recipes that make up the best amalgamation of East fulfills West, the venture had been a aspiration of hers considering the fact that she was a teen. “I required to share my recipes in hopes that it will encourage some others to cook dinner, and share their like with their pals and family members. To me, food items is enjoy. There is just no greater way to show it.”
Considering that its debut, the cookbook has been a ongoing accomplishment. There have been various requests to restock the cabinets especially at the Kinokuniya bookstore at Suria KLCC, Malaysia as properly as in Singapore, so in a natural way we experienced to ask the obvious is there another cookbook in the operates? “You know what? A lot of persons have been inquiring me this. I do have a large amount of new recipes published, so it’s definitely on the cards,” suggests Danielle.
To more establish her purpose as a culinary maven, Danielle also had the unquenchable drive to introduce her extremely individual kitchenware line. With a group of associates to help her vision, the aptly named ‘Danielle‘ critical kitchenware line was introduced in 2019 on her 40th birthday in Hong Kong. Even so, commencing this new undertaking was not straightforward.
There was a large amount of back and forth in perfecting the line which has now developed to consist of a extensive selection of good quality German-metal knives, cookware, slicing boards, and also a specific-version mother or father- and-child knife established for family residence-cooking times.
“It was of utmost relevance that the kitchenware line was reliable as feasible. My title is on it and I use them as well,” says Danielle. With extra items launching before long on her web site and in merchants, Danielle’s best objective is to make lives simpler even though earning cooking far more pleasant at dwelling.
With the ongoing pandemic affecting absolutely everyone in distinctive strategies, Danielle shares that she finds juggling staying a mom and controlling her burgeoning culinary vocation a continuous operate in development.
“I’m obviously really an energetic person and I like the challenge to keep myself hectic, but I do obtain it tricky at times since there is only just one of me! But I try my best,” says Danielle.
“I appreciate to support the nearby talent. I believe it is very critical to acquire from our farmers and fishermen particularly all through these moments.”
“Being a mum throughout the pandemic is also like staying the instructor, referee and chef. As a lady there are so several diverse roles that we regularly require to perform.”
Just one of the approaches Danielle managed her time as properly as her children’s during the lockdown was by retaining busy with her On the Table at Property delivery initiative which commenced through the first Motion Control Get in March 2020 and is nevertheless ongoing.
The thought sparked when one particular of her girlfriends, Datin Dian Lee, prompt that she should really do it as a business enterprise. Having her young children help to chop greens and support with the logistics proved to be fruitful not just for her household, but also for her nearby buyers as effectively as individuals from Singapore, United States and Europe who ordered Danielle’s property-cooked foodstuff to be shipped to their people in Kuala Lumpur.
“It felt actually rewarding. The act was so sweet and heartfelt, that is why I constantly say that food is really like. It is a great way of demonstrating really like and spoiling your liked types.”
With no plans to slow down whenever before long, Danielle now has her sights established on launching a YouTube channel that includes her recipes. For now, she finds it essential that she is equipped to aid local businesses inspite of not becoming able to go to her common marketplaces throughout the lockdown. “I adore to assistance the area talent. I consider it’s really crucial to get from our farmers and fishermen specifically throughout these periods,” claims Danielle.
The joy she finds when she scores a refreshing create is indescribable. She tells me that she’s this kind of a common at the market place that anyone is aware her and she enjoys special discounts. She even has her very own “fish guy” and “chicken lady” whom she constantly communicates for updates on refreshing generate. “You know, I have them all on velocity dial,” adds Danielle with a chuckle.
Interview: Naseem Randhawa
Stylist: Nigel Lee
Photographer: Mickey Wong @ New Storyboards Photography
Make-up artist: Cat Yong
Hair stylist: Ckay Liow
This story was 1st released in Status Malaysia.