Lee Samantha is a Malaysian Mother and Food Artist who creates whimsical, colourful and healthy meals for her two young daughters. Lee Samantha started turning food into fun and unique artworks to help her eldest daughter eat independently and healthily back in 2008 and started posting on Instagram in 2011.Since then, her unique and incredibly creative approach to ‘storytelling’ on a plate has not only delighted her daughters but has garnered her local and international attention. Lee Samantha’s approach is fuss-free and imaginative, using simple tools to create her food artworks. She doesn’t believe in wasting food and is a strong believer in utilising fresh and healthy ingredients. Lee Samantha’s delightfully iconic plates have also caught the attention of international brands and top advertising and PR agencies around the world. Now Lee Samantha has amassed a growing social media following of almost a million followers and has established herself as a Food Artist thanks to her creative and unique way of approaching mealtimes. Please enjoy my interview with Lee Samantha.
How do you describe your occupation?
I’m a Food Artist.
Talk us through a typical day for you…
I love Mondays. It’s the day I get to find out what my priorities are for the week. I start my day at about 6:30 am, by getting the kids ready for school. After that, I get to work from home at my desk. I’ll do some planning and sketching ideas for the day/week, browsing through social media in between – getting updates on what’s happening on social media. At some point, I usually talk to my manager about old/new things. At noon, I go grocery shopping, followed by preparing ingredients of the day. I’ll spend another 1-2 hours finalising sketches for the day before cooking the meal and turning it into food art, followed by my photography for the day. Cook – decorate – photography, this is my favourite part of the day. Then I’ll have dinner with family and spend some time reading before bedtime.
What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?
I’m reading a book I bought about 2 years ago, but I always flip through it, almost every day. It’s a graphic memoir named Tokyo on Foot by Florent Chavouet. It’s an illustrated tour of Tokyo that I find it visually entertaining and inspiring.
Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?
It was a Chinese version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.
Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?
When did you fall in love with reading?
I fell in love with reading when I was about 8-9.
If you could gift yourself books at age 16 – what would it be and why?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I’d gift it to myself to help me to understand the law of attraction. We work with our own power, we guide ourselves to the direction we hope for.
What are perfect reading conditions for you?
Anywhere quiet with a glass of wine or coffee.
For someone starting out in your career, which three books would you make required reading and why?
I’d recommend; Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Ultimate Home Cooking by Gordon Ramsay, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I guess any books about food that inspire you will do.
If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?
I’d invite J.K Rowling to satisfy my fantasy world; Michael Pollan to enlighten us about food; Florent Chavouet to have a graphic memoir of the party; Maya Angelou to speak in her powerful and timely words. Yes, please! Oh, and Gordon Ramsay – whose full of energy and sarcasm, but he’s a lot of fun (I’m sure). He’d be there to cook for the party, haha!
What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan. Who isn’t curious about super-rich Chinese families, gossip and backstabbing?!
What is your favourite thing about reading?
It helps with inner peace, and to develop empathy.
If you could insert yourself into any book, which would you pick and why?
The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten. When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a food critic who is able to travel around the world trialling different cuisines.
Name a book that you feel everyone would benefit from reading and explain why.
The book I’d pick would be Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. Do not covet your ideas; instead, give away what you know and more will come back to you.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey. No matter what happens, it’s helping to build strength.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I’d also include In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
Food and the City by Ina Yalof – about a delectable journey to New York’s food world, narrated by the chefs, restaurateurs and street vendors in NYC.