INTERVIEW: Chef Bob dishes healthy tips for Ramadan meals, urges public to stay at home

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
(PHOTO: Chef Bob)

Celebrity Chef Shahrizal Salleh, better known as Chef Bob, was only four years old when he helped his mother with cooking in the kitchen.

He continued his passion for cooking as a hotel chef, honing his skills in Malay, Indian and Indonesian cuisine among others.

With over 30 years of experience, Chef Bob runs several restaurants and has helmed popular cooking shows on Suria and Channel 5.

These days, Chef Bob chronicles his food diary on social media, including highlighting his weight loss to inspire fans!

For this month of Ramadan, Chef Bob advises readers to eat in moderation and shares with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA on what he eats for sahur and iftar: “For sahur (pre-dawn meal), it is the ways of our Prophet to have dates, which is kurma and milk. These two will set you well for the rest of the day.

“For me, it is good to have banana because of the amount of carbohydrates and potassium that will help keep you alert throughout the day.”

He advised against consuming too much food for sahur. “You can get bloated, and you won’t be able to function. So oats, bubur or porridge and anything with milk is good.”

As for buka puasa, which is iftar (to break fast), Chef Bob recommends eating at a leisurely pace. “Start eating slowly first, and drink warm water followed by food in moderation,” he shared.

During the COVID-19 circuit breaker period, which is ending on 1 June, Chef Bob finds it very hard to skip his gym sessions. “When I go to my gym, I have my instructor to motivate me. Right now, we have Zoom workouts but I feel you’ll need the human interaction to give you that motivation.”

On the closure of the Ramadan bazaar, in line with the circuit breaker measures, Chef Bob said he is fine with it but he empathised with the disappointment of his fellow Malays. “The majority of the Malay community have gone bonkers because it is something we look forward to every year. The spirit of Aidilfitri is not there as there’s a lack of human touch and good food, like dendeng (sliced dried meat).

“I am also sad that the mosques are closed, as I am a frequent mosque-goer. But you can also practise at home, with the right environment and lighting and mindset. But I need to emphasise, please stay home!”

The public’s cooperation to observe safe distancing is crucial to protect frontline workers like his wife, who is with the Health Promotion Board, Chef Bob said. His wife is stationed at a foreign workers’ dormitory, regularly taking the temperature of the workers there.

“She puts our lives in her hands, and I trust her to be vigilant, and wear the protective suit to get her job done. This is the sacrifice that my family is giving, as we put our families’ lives at risk here.”

When Singapore eventually eases its partial lockdown measures, Chef Bob plans to visit the zoo, as requested by his son. “A promise is a promise,” he added.

Watch Chef Bob make his favourite chilli crab dish.