Previously a financial planner, he left the corporate world to pursue his passion for food by starting his journey as a chef. Some of you may remember his outstanding performance on MasterChef US, which brought Sharone Hakman‘s aspirations in the culinary world to a whole new level. Now owner of a barbecue sauce company and a well sought out chef, Sharone creates love and passion through his food.
Last Saturday (15th September 2012), Sharone was in Malaysia for a cooking demonstration at Mid Valley Megamall, where thousands thronged the area. Cameras filmed him scurrying around in search of his ingredients as his shopping adventure was aired live at East Atrium.
But before that, we caught him for a little one-on-one at The Gardens Hotel, just as he was prepping for what would be his longest afternoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We dug deep and discovered what it was like for him to work with Gordon Ramsay, and Sharone lets slip that he has a non-traditional, special Thanksgiving turkey recipe – amongst other things:
Hi Sharone! When did you get in?
“Yesterday. It’s my first time to Malaysia! And I’ve had some good stuff – nasi lemak and roti canai. It’s spicy but I like spicy.”
Tell us, how did you start cooking and when did you start? We hear you’re a self-taught cook – which is, amazing!
“It’s just in you, you know? Cooking just makes sense to me. I come from a background where my family’s pretty much all about food. Family and cuisine, they go hand-in-hand. My grandma’s always cooking in the kitchen and I’ve been seeing that since I was at a very young age so cooking has never been intimidating. I’ve always watched her cook and see how things were made. So, I was hungry and I was eight years old so I made an egg. Then I learnt to make this and that and my passion for food just grew..”
Aww! When you were younger, we bet it was all trial and error. Did you ever get into trouble?
“It’s still trial and error! Did I ever get into trouble? I definitely messed things up before. I remember trying to make soup once before. I tried to copy my grandma’s soup but I came back and there was nothing left in the pot. Even today I make mistakes when I try to come out with new things. But you know, you have to make mistakes to get better.”
So Gordon Ramsay, and we think this is what everybody wants to know – he’s really like this evil football coach on the show. But is he really like that though?
“Yeah he is really like an evil football coach. On camera he’s pretty intense! Maybe he’s expected to be that intense on camera but off camera, the times that I’ve hung out with him, he’s pretty relaxed and pretty chilled. He’s a nice guy. I learnt a lot from my experience..from working with him.”
If you could go back and change the one thing that you could change about MasterChef US, what would it be?
“Nothing. Really. Truthfully, I wouldn’t even say that I wanted to win. Everything that I’ve done has strictly been based on passion and desire. People always say, gosh..don’t you wish you won? When I lost, sure my competitive spirit said that too but today, I’m so driven to do the things I do and I’m so determined to do the things that I love to do with food.”
Pray tell, what’s your next big project?
“My next big project is..just to kind of, get the world excited about food. And what I mean by that is good food. I started my line of barbecue sauce (Hak’s BBQ Sauce) and I’ve got two more flavours coming out next month. I’ve got a line of snacks coming out next year. If you look at the ingredients in the sauce, you’re going to know every ingredients in there. Nothing’s going to stick out and make you go, ‘What is that?’. There are no preservatives, no artificial flavours, and no artificial chemicals in there. There’s so much crap out there in the world, there’s so much crap that we eat and we don’t know any better. How those are legal? I’ve no idea. So my lifelong project is to get as many people as I can behind me to promote really tasty stuff that’s not necessarily bad for you.”
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest, if not the biggest family/seasonal celebrations in your part of the world. What’s Thanksgiving like for you?
“Thanksgiving is big! I do a huge Thanksgiving – a lot of good stuff. My favourite kind of turkey is deep fried turkey. I never roast the turkey whole. I actually chuck the entire turkey in a huge fryer. It takes about 45 minutes but it’s amazing. The secret is, see..the thing with the turkey is that it’s such a big bird that the difference in the heat to get everything done nice is..I always break down my turkey. You want everything done the right way and just nice. I roast the turkey breasts with rosemary, garlic, some shallot, a little bit of white wine. Then I do the turkey legs confit – I braise them slowly. After that I put them back together again so it looks like it’s whole.”
You just gave us your entire recipe! Haha.
“Haha yeah. You could also make tacos out of it the next day too. Shred up the leftovers, get flour tortillas, put everything in there with some leftover cranberry sauce and maybe some chili in there, then add in something fresh like maybe some cabbage or whatnot – best tacos ever!”
Turkey all week, huh? Sharone, you’re really creative! Are there any chefs in the world that inspire you to be so creative?
“I haven’t had the privilege of meeting him but I’d say that there’s this one chef that I’ve always wanted to meet and he’s in Chicago for the award-winning restaurant, Alinea. His name is Grant Achatz. To me, well, he’s a young guy but he’s a huge inspiration because he’s so creative and so artistic. Years ago, he developed tongue cancer and for a chef, that’s terrible. They had to remove a big part of his tongue and he lost pretty much all his taste buds. But he still goes in every day to cook everyday. He cooks on memory, he cooks on inspiration, and he still comes up with stuff that are so impressive. I’d love to have lunch with him and you know, just sit down and chat.”
Alright! Before we go, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
“Live passionately! I hope to be back because I love your city and I love the warmth. I’m excited to have a place to share my passion.”
And we’re glad you shared yours with us, Sharone. So good to meet you! Hope you had fun on the rest of your Malaysian trip. And might we say, the cooking demo at Mid Valley Megamall was awesome:
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Special thanks to FOX International Channels and Arc Worldwide for making this happen. For more pictures from Sharone Hakman cooking up a storm at East Atrium in Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur, click!