The culinary adventures of Angela May

Host-turned-culinary grad ANGELA MAY once bit a live octopus between its eyes ’cos that’s “the most humane way” to kill it. Kids, don’t try this at home.


Angela May, 40. The TV host, who splits her time between New York and Singapore, fronted HBO’s behind-the-scenes series First Look and food adventure show Planet Food. In 2003, the Thai-English gourmand moved to Sydney to study at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school there. She also recently co-produced reality show The Apartment Season 4: Celebrity Edition.

I studied French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu ’cos I wanted to master the basics properly. French kitchen techniques are very complicated (laughs). I decided not to start out as a restaurant apprentice ’cos I prefer going to school to learn in a structured manner.

My secret to staying slim is… to have a roving fork on hand during meals. I usually go out with a large group of friends and we order many different dishes to share. I’ll eat from every plate on the table, but only small bites. I love buttery food too much, and this is one way of [portion control].

Cooking is like dancing ballet. There’s a certain rhythm to cooking that’s beautiful to watch, and the training’s just as tough [as a ballerina’s]. You have to remain graceful and calm even though you’re in an intense environment. I once broke down while I was at Le Cordon Bleu. The instructors had very high expectations and I was pushing myself very hard. I just couldn’t bear them witnessing my [failed dishes].

The most humane way to kill an octopus is to bite it between the eyes. It kills the creature within seconds so it doesn’t suffer much. I tried out [this method] when I was hosting Planet Food: Greece. The octopus clung onto me but the suction force wasn’t painful. I bit it till I heard a cracking sound. It was like a scene out of Alien.

Never work with a messy ingredient like chocolate if you’re catering in bulk. My worst kitchen disaster happened when I decided to make chocolate bon bons for a big Christmas house party. The scale of the project proved too much for my little kitchen, and chocolate got everywhere. It was even on the walls! Obviously, it wasn’t the easiest [stain] to clean up (laughs).
One thing I’ve learnt on the job that they never taught me in school is that… It’s often up to us to [improve ourselves] at work. I wanted to learn more about the other side [of showbiz], so I asked the producers of The Apartment if I could try my hand at producing! It’s been eye-opening.

Catch The Apartment Season 4: Celebrity Edition on Star World (SingTel TV Ch 301 & StarHub Ch 501), Sat & Sun, 9.40pm.  

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