Interview with Alexandra Prabaharan, Nutritionist and Chef for Food Matters
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I'm a certified nutritionist and a chef for Food Matters (www.foodmatters.me). I've always enjoyed eating well and growing up with a French mom we had balanced meals on a daily basis. This led to me cooking my own food for lunch and packing it to take to the office. My colleagues eventually started asking if I could bring them an extra serving and they even paid me to do so. This is when I realised there was a market for healthy food, so I got a nutritionist certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates. I'm a self-taught chef however and my passion for food grew when I lived in New York for a year and sampled the various culinary delights the city had to offer. This was where I got obsessed with the art and started watching every food show available in addition to reading chef biographies and technique books. I then spent many years playing around with flavours in the kitchen while inviting friends and family over for dinner parties. With my culinary skills and nutritionist certification I decided to embark on the journey of building a healthy lunch delivery service.
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
Best part: I love changing peoples opinions on healthy food. When they tell me that it's tasteless, bland and boring, it becomes a personal challenge for me to give them something that will change their minds. I often manage to do so and it's only the die hard fried food sugar loving fans that I have some trouble with. But they all come around eventually.
Worst part: In this line of work you have to learn to expect the unexpected. As prepared as you might be, there can always be a hiccup. An important ingredient could run out just when you're minutes away from sending food out. A piece of kitchen equipment could suddenly stop working which makes it impossible to complete a dish. The online system has a glitch and leaves out a customer's order. All of these things require quick on the feet thinking to resolve which also means that it can get quite stressful in the kitchen.
What's your personal favourite meal from Food Matters?
My personal favourite is the first dish I created three years ago when we started as Lunch2U and that's our Thai Red Rice Salad. We kept it on the menu when we rebranded as Food Matters because it was one of our most popular dishes. A close second would be the tom yam pasta salad because I love the heat and the chewy baked tempeh.
The perfect day off would be....
Time to myself to read a good book, watch some mindless TV, catch up with friends and to just relax in general.
A day in the life of an entrepreneur is...
Unpredictable and fulfilling.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy playing sports, hiking and going on new adventures. I recently tried wakeboarding and had a blast and am looking to inject more of these activities in my life
What's your view on the KL food scene?
I believe the KL food scene is growing but has a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of great ideas that aren't executed well and many times restaurants start off with great food and service but drop in quality after a few months. I hope to see this change as I believe we have what it takes to be one of the hottest food destinations in the region and not just for our street food.
What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We're going to keep expanding our delivery locations to be able to serve more customers and there will be some new dishes added to the menu. We will also be looking to add on drinks, desserts and snacks but this will come in time.