Singapore-based F&B consultant and food blogger Victoria Cheng will preside over Cointreau Singapore's Alice In Wonderland themed Halloween party as the Queen of Hearts
It's not easy to stay slim when you work with food, and Singapore-based American-Chinese F&B consultant and food blogger Victoria Cheng knows it.
In fact, she gained about 10kg over a year when she was working at Appetite magazine in 2010.
She told M candidly last week at Craftsmen Speciality Coffee in Siglap: "Back then, we worked late all the time and would order food from the office. Thankfully, I managed to lose the weight when I left the magazine, and I now exercise regularly at the gym and do sports like wakeboarding and taekwondo to keep in shape."
Born and raised in New York, Miss Cheng, 31, has called Singapore home for the past five-and-a-half years. She used to work in Hong Kong for her family business, helping to run Italian coffee chain Caffe Vergnano, but she moved here for a change of scenery and has not looked back.
"At the time, I had to decide between Shanghai and Singapore. My Mandarin isn't very good, and I have friends here, so I decided to come here. Singapore feels like home to me now. I get homesick for it when I'm visiting Hong Kong."
Miss Cheng started her blog Gastronommy in 2011 as a personal creative outlet. The name is a pun on Sesame Street character Cookie Monster's famous phrase as he tucks into his favourite confectionery ("Om nom nom").
Gastronommy attracts around 21,000 monthly unique visitors, while Cheng has over 50,000 followers on Twitter and 21,000 followers on Instagram.
"I wouldn't really use the term 'blogger' to define myself, as it's not really how I pay my bills. I consult for F&B companies and write for food publications as a freelancer, and my blog and YouTube channel are more of a hobby."
Miss Cheng believes Gastronommy to be different from others in the highly competitive local food blog scene, as she rarely writes restaurant reviews. Instead, her posts include topics like her personal food diary, travel and cooking tips. An avid cook, she loves making pasta sauces and Thai food from scratch (her mother is from Thailand).
She said: "I feel like food reviews need to be objective and unbiased, and because I consult for F&B companies, it's not ethical for me to review their restaurants.
"A lot of local food blogs are mainly about food reviews. I appreciate the ones who give informative opinions, and not just post what they eat."
QUEEN OF HEARTS
As host of liquor brand Cointreau Singapore's Alice In Wonderland theme Halloween party tonight for newly-launched cocktail bar Vanity at South Beach, Miss Cheng will be dressed as the Queen of Hearts and the limited-edition Cointreau blood orange spirit will be available.
"I'm really excited about it as the whole event will be very indie and creative. We'll have simple but elegant cocktails, like the Queen of Hearts cocktail with a cotton candy heart that slowly melts as you pour the cocktail in it," she said.
Other concoctions include a Toadstool Tonic with cherry smoke fog, a Cheshire Cat cocktail featuring balsamic vinegar shrub, Thai basil and coconut foam, and Le Debut, a double rocks whiskey cocktail presented in a vial labelled "Drink me".
There will also be a makeover area and a photo booth where partygoers can pose with props.
Miss Cheng believes Singapore's dining scene has "seriously caught up" with Hong Kong's, though it still has some way to go before it reaches the levels of Hong Kong and New York.
She said: "Hong Kong's fine dining restaurants have more finesse and little details in their service that I haven't found here. Singapore's scene is more wholesome and clean-cut. And in New York and Hong Kong, restaurants are more quirky and are constantly pushing creative boundaries. I haven't been surprised by a menu here before, as restaurants tend to go with more tried-and-tested concepts.
"I guess Singaporeans don't like to stand out as much.
"But I really love Singapore food personally. I like how it's easy to find Teochew muay (porridge) here, and I really enjoy dishes like chwee kueh and nasi lemak ."