Hi, I am Pamelia Chia, a Singaporean chef, food science graduate, author of bestselling cookbook Wet Market to Table and the founder of Singapore Noodles.
My growing up years. I was a voracious eater and avid cook in my younger years, but always found it intimidating to cook food from my own heritage. It was frustrating to learn how to cook from my mother who estimated quantities of ingredients by eye, telling me to pour soy sauce into the dish until she said stop. I dove into the comfort of Western cookbooks, solid, dependable tomes that took me by the hand, guiding me in the making of one pasta dish after the next. It wasn’t until I became a professional chef many years later, and developed the confidence to approach food from my own heritage.
2015: Getting interested in food from home. I started my cooking career at the European restaurant Lollapalooza, where I met head chef Issachar Lee. A devout Buddhist, he occasionally went on retreats in neighboring Asian countries. Upon his return, he would cook the most incredible dishes that he learnt from locals such as Balinese chicken, raw eggplant salad and kao soi. It expanded my mind on what Asian food was, beyond stir-fries and boiled soups. Inspired, I decided to work at Candlenut, where Chef Malcolm Lee instilled in me a love and passion for local food.
2017: Writing a cookbook. My partner, who is in the agriculture industry, was passionate about growing regional produce – he would bring me surplus vegetables like gotu kola, roselle and Malabar spinach from his garden. I had never seen or cooked with these ingredients prior, and this inspired me to start going to Singapore’s wet markets and cook with regional produce. I documented my journey and learnings into my first cookbook, Wet Market to Table.
2018: Moving to Australia. After moving to Australia in 2018, I realized that though Singapore is well-known as a country abroad, so little is known about our food overseas. I came across a dish in many Asian restaurants known as “Singapore Noodles”, a noodle stir-fry which had nothing Singaporean about it.
2020: Creating Singapore Noodles. I created a one-stop online resource with the mission of keeping Singaporean food heritage alive and cheekily decided to name it after that pseudo-Singaporean dish I encountered in Melbourne.