I'm a huge, huge fan of Melly @mellyeatsworld. She surprises me all the time with her creative mind and her sense of humor which can be seen in the exquisite execution of her ultra-cute and sometimes fantastical, mythical creature sweet treats. More recently, during social distancing orders, she has started adding her touch to the savory comfort foods that she's cooking. As kawaii and professional as Melly's treats are, this "just for fun" baker tells me more about the person behind the magic in this week's Friday Feature.
Merpigs or Pigmaids? Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld
1) Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Taiwan and moved to Canada when I was 11 years old. I loved growing up in Taiwan because of its diverse food scene. It not only offered a microcosm Chinese cuisines, but also foreign flavours from its Dutch and Japanese colonial eras. I’m also lucky to have lived in two of the most multicultural cities in Canada, Vancouver and Toronto. My love for eating, making and discovering food is a direct reflection of where I grew up.
2) From Whale Shark Gua Bao and Baby Yoda Dumplings to Merpigs, Zom-beavers, and Pig-apple Cakes, your creations are always so fun and super kawaii. Where do you get this ultra-creative inspiration from?
To be honest, I’m not that “kawaii” of a person in real life. My place is rather devoid of stuffed animals or other cutesy stuff. Perhaps all of my repressed “kawaii” energy is looking for an outlet in the form of baked goods? Other than that, I’ve always been on the quirky side (which is the polite way of saying “weird”) which perhaps contributes to an overactive imagination. I keep a sketchbook in my phone and jot down random ideas that make me chuckle. Some of my creations are out of necessity, “making lemonade out of lemons” so to speak. For example, the zom-beavers were a failed batch of macarons that all cracked. So I decided to smear some red food colouring on the cracks and made the beavers into zombies!
Zom-beavers. Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld
Bite-sized Furikake Onigiri with home-grown sprouts. Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld
3) Macarons seem to be your favored medium, what are your favorite flavors? Does it depend on the character?
It’s hard for me to pick a favourite flavour since I’ve got a rather fickle palate. I do try to tie in the flavour with the designs of my macarons, some examples include lavender flavoured sleepy sheeps, mint flavoured polar bears and salted egg yolk flavoured egg-shaped macarons.
4) How often do you bake?
I bake at least 4 times a week. When I’m not baking, I’m researching about what to bake next. Not all of my baked goods made it to my Instagram account though… some definitely belonged to the “ugly but delicious” category!
Cactus macron. Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld
5) It amazes me that you don't sell your sweet creations. Is this something you might do in the future?
Most of my baked goods are time and labour intensive, which makes them not particularly suitable for selling. I am more interested in teaching, either through workshops, online tutorials or books. I would love to write a cookbook one of these days but it just seems like such a precise and daunting task!
6) Your food is often too cute to eat, do you eat them all, or do you keep a few of them aside to add to your collection?
Thank you! Actually, despite my penchant for cute and pretty food, flavour always comes first for me. Food is after all, something to be eaten and enjoyed! I think people are oftentimes surprised that I’m not at all precious about my food. I eat my own cooking, that is why I’m conscientious about my choice of ingredients. I also love sharing my cooking with family and friends!
Ewok Cookies – Ewookies? Woocookies? Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld
7) What are the top three staples/ingredients in your pantry?
Butter, flour and sugar!
8) What's your ultimate comfort food meal? And why?
I don’t really have a go-to comfort meal. I have this thing that my husband jokingly referred to as my “craving of the day”. I would wake up in the morning with the biggest craving for a particular dish. When that happens, nothing will stop me from getting that dish into my tummy. The other day I was having the biggest craving for Tteok-bokki. I had to make the rice cake from scratch but it was oh-so-satisfying once done! Other than my “craving of the day”, tea is something that always puts me in a very good mood.
Whale Shark Steamed Gua Bao. Photo courtesy of @mellyeatsworld