Celebrity chef Marina Mustafa has authored 26 cookbooks, reflecting her life and culture, all while battling cancer.

astute Cookbook writer Marina Mustafa is an inspiring woman. Over the past 13 years, I’ve written a total of 26 cookbooks. It has recipes for everything from authentic traditional Johor dishes to delicious cakes or nostalgic cakes.

According to Marina, each book reflects part of her life, memories and culture. But behind the scenes, she was facing constant challenges.

She’s been living with incurable cancer and has had many surgeries, treatments, and chemotherapy over the years, but you’d never guess her struggles when you meet her in person.

She smiled brightly and spoke cheerfully during our interview at her home in Kelana Jaya.

The self-made chef, who had thyroid cancer, revealed that she had written her first book, Unforgettable recipes for Malay occasionsAt her son’s suggestion, shortly after she was diagnosed in the 1990s and had to close her restaurant, Café Dania, 16 years after the surgery.

“I wrote this book for my children so that when I am gone they can use these recipes as a guide in their lives. I wanted to reflect on a stage in my life in the book. I wanted a cookbook that explained the life cycle,” Marina said.

The book contains her personal stories, including childhood memories, as well as authentic Malay recipes for special occasions, from birth to death.

“For example, when their child is born, what do you cook in the celebration of ‘Butong Jambul’, the aqeeqah (the sacrifice for the birth of the child), the wedding, the funeral, and the ‘tahleel’ prayer,” Marina said. “

You didn’t expect much from the first book, but it got people talking, and in the end, the book was a success.

She recently found out that her cancer had spread to other parts of her body.

“I am disappointed that I am not responding to the medication. I realized this and told my husband I didn’t want to think too much,” she said, discreetly wiping tears in the corner of her eyes.

“When I first found out I had cancer, I prepared myself to go. If I ever go out now, I have to accept it. So, I don’t want to think too much about my disease. I’m still putting on lipstick and going out and doing good things. I think I’m fine with that. “I try to do good things,” she said, putting on a brave face.

“Sometimes it’s hard,” she openly admitted, but she never fails to maintain a positive outlook on life.

She added with a smile, “As long as cancer doesn’t bother me, I can still walk around. I’m grateful and I’m blessed.”

Despite all the difficulties, Marina did not let cancer stop her from achieving what she loves most: cooking, sharing and raising her two beloved children.

For Marina, it was never about cancer, it was about celebrating life with great food.

She doesn’t want people to focus on her health. Instead, you want people to look at the things you do. Experiments, tools, and the taste of the food you make with love and creativity.

culinary adventure

During difficult times, Marina turned to religion for solace, but even in religious books, she found culinary inspiration.

While reading the Qur’an, Marina chose 11 ingredients mentioned in the Bible, and created modern recipes around them. It resulted in her second book, meal of the year.

“I want to tell young people that ingredients used thousands of years ago are still applicable and relevant now.”

After a few years, I got a little busy. She didn’t have time to cook to perfection due to her work commitments, which is what prompted her to write her third bestseller, 5 break 15 minutesFilled with easy recipes to satisfy the needs of those who lead a hectic lifestyle.

She soon realized that she had been labeled a “local gourmet” because of her talent for mastering local cuisine.

Hence, Marina wrote another book titled 100 oriental and western foods To break free from the mark.

In fact, Marina is very familiar with Western cuisine. She acquired cooking skills, while attending a secondary school in Australia, at the age of fifteen. There, I also learned to cook a variety of Western dishes.

Thus, in the book, I explored how local dishes are made with Western flavors and ingredients and vice versa, for example, using mee hoon in the traditional Italian dish aglio oglio.

recipe for success

Marina Books are popular because they discover original or original recipes, reinvent or update them with new ingredients, and share insightful information and step-by-step guides for a variety of great and delicious recipes.

On top of that, it does in-depth research and offers tried and tested recipes that actually work.

“My priority is that my recipes have to ‘work.’” She said, “If one book doesn’t work, people won’t buy the others.” “I have to have that reputation, first of all, that my recipes work!”

The Holiday classics The cookbook is also its own. In this book, Marina explored many types of rendang recipes, did research, and wrote an entire chapter on rendang recipes from every state in Malaysia.

Through her research, she found that the rendang in Perak has a variety of spices, while the rendang in Sembilan has more soothing badi, as people there prefer the spice rendang.

One of her most important books is Everything SambalWhich won the French Gourmand International Cookbooks Award in 2018.

The most challenging cookbook

However, writing cookbooks wasn’t all smooth sailing. For example, when she wrote the twelve book series, she got nervous and was taken to the hospital, but recovered and continued to finish the book.

Another challenge she faced was that she had to prepare ingredients for at least 25 dishes for each of the books in the series.

“I felt a little tired doing the cookbook. Just imagine having to buy ingredients for 25 recipes. My fridge was full and my kitchen was full of ingredients everywhere.”

“I had to cook and photograph each of the dishes for a ‘step-by-step’ guide, and this was all done while I was on my feet the whole time.”

Communicate with others

In her books, Marina pours her heart into her recipes and many people feel connected to her.

She could easily be called a “celebrity chef” but she’d rather not be, and instead focus on learning every aspect of cooking, from preparation, to recipe development and design, including to famous food companies.

“I want to incorporate the culture we have in Malaysia into my cookbooks. My cookbook reflects my childhood and my culture [and] Dishes we forgot and don’t do anymore.”

Although the Johor-born chef has cooked a range of dishes, her favorite food since she was a child is ‘jmput-jemput’, a traditional delicacy with sentimental value as it is a favorite of her family.

Apart from that, ‘nasi dhall’ holds a special place in her heart because her father used to cook it every Friday.

We’re starting to wonder, who are her favorite chefs?

She replied that she admires both international and local chefs for their talent and expertise. For example, she loves Ina Garten for her motherly and familial nature, Jamie Oliver for his sense of family and culture, Gordon Ramsay for his accuracy, Chef Florence Tan for Nyonya’s cooking, and Chef Datuk Ismail Ahmad for his love of original Negeri Sembilan kitchens.

Looking to the future

Marina said the trend these days is to search for recipes on the internet.

“My recipes are shared on a local app called CookX App, and I trust this app. My recipes are published in a systematic manner with my photos, ingredients, tips, step-by-step videos and videos. Marina is also the Brand Ambassador for CookXApp.

This scalable social cooking app allows users to discover new recipes and purchase prepackaged ingredient combinations.

The app sells eco-friendly packages that include a specified number of ingredients for easy cooking. Among those currently available is the eco-friendly Cinnamon Marina recipe.

“It is very convenient and the application is constantly evolving. There is a lot of room for growth,” she added.

The app provides a platform for new chefs to share and monetize their unique recipes and earn at least 85% of revenue from every sale made.

The app also has a pre-order feature, which allows creators and partners to pre-set sale date availability or sale periods and receive orders up to 13 days in advance, catering to any type of business model.

Most of Marina’s recipes, whether savory or sweet, are gradually loaded into the application. Currently, Marina is busy reinventing and finding new recipes for her latest culinary obsession – Biryani Jam.

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