i love food. i've been asked what would i do if food wasn't number one in my life and i haven't got a clue to be honest. that's why it's 110 per cent part of my life. it's always been in my blood to cook. i'm malaysian, i grew up surrounded by good food. when i moved to australia it was a bit of a culture shock with all the different types of food. i had lebanese, turkish, greek and italian friends. that's when i started learning about the european side of food.when i first came to london, i was unhappy because i couldn't find my stepping-stone. i was classically trained in french and italian cuisine then, as a young chef, i started to look at things differently – mix this spice with this and that spice with that – but it wasn't really allowed. i met yotam ottolenghi through a job ad i saw on gumtree. i rang up and got an interview. i went to check it out the day before and was blown away by all the meringues stacked up and all the salads in vibrant colours and i was thinking to myself, `i hope this guy makes everything fresh`. the interview was the shortest trial i've had in my life. i made up three simple salads, they showed me around and then told me i could go. i definitely didn't think i was going to get the job, but it ended up turning into 12 good years of friendship.when i started working with yotam, he kind of let me go a bit. we started the ball rolling by mixing middle-eastern cuisine with asian cuisine – they are very similar in terms of the c...