Andrew Gooi On Letting Food Do The Talking

Digest

May 26, 2017 | BY Tien Chew

A US-based Malaysian-born filmmaker was nominated for the respected James Beard Foundation Award. We speak to him about food, film and more.

Gooi 2.jpg (original size)Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Gooi

Malaysians are talented individuals and we love it when we hear that one of our fellow countrymen is doing great things abroad and making us proud.

Andrew Gooi, a US-Based Malaysian, is a cinematographer and has built a website dedicated to telling food dining_tatler_stories through the art of capturing the process of how food is made on film.

Also read: Gurinder Chadha reveals 5 ways to make better Malaysian films

Launched in 2016, Food Talkies has been nominated for the 2017 James Beard Awards for the visual and technical excellence as well as video webcast, on location categories.

To help put things into perspective, popular TV show host Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods won this year's James Beard Award for outstanding personality/host, while the widely celebrated cooking show Chef's Table on Netflix had won for the television program, on location category.

A true-blue Malaysian, meaning that he has a deep love for food just like the rest of us, we speak to Andrew about his passion for making videos that make us hungry and appreciative of food at the same time.

Gooi 1.jpg (original size)Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Gooi

Why film? How did you get into cinematography?
I’ve naturally been drawn into the making of films in my pre-teen years. Growing up in Malaysia, there was a Discovery Channel show called ‘Movie Magic’ that I watched religiously – it covers the making of and visual effects of some of the biggest motion pictures in Hollywood. I feel like I’ve always had a good eye for cinematography, I studied and practiced with cameras and lights a lot even though I was in university for Civil Engineering. One day, all that studying and practicing of cinematography clicked when I had the opportunity to shoot my first corporate/business video and thankfully, it didn’t end there.

What is food to you?
Food is a reminder of slowing down and enjoying moments together. I know, it sounds cliché but having my son and another child on the way, it’s definitely been something important. My wife and I grew up with strong food culture and eating together is something we want to cultivate in our children.

Why did you decide to film food?
I started off with the realization that I didn’t have a lot of footage of my grandmother. With her advancing in age, I am truly reminded of how much care she gave me and my siblings when she helped take care of us back in the day. And she cooked amazing food – so I wanted to capture the sight and sound of her making one of my favourite, pig trotter vinegar soup.

How do you feel to be nominated for the James Beard Awards?
It’s truly an honour – when I started Food Talkies, I had a simple goal of capturing food dining_tatler_stories of various individuals. But the attention and accolades Food Talkies has received has been truly humbling, and it proves that these dining_tatler_stories have connected with the audience in an emotional and memorable way. I would have been so happy with any nomination but to be nominated in two prestigious categories, I have nothing but gratefulness.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Simply put, my style is cinematic. But we know a film comes together over so many different elements. I believe my strength comes from putting together visuals, dialogue and music in ways that move the audience.

What are some of your best works and why?
‘Kakehashi: A Portrait of Chef Nobuo Fukuda’ is by far the work I’m proudest of. I feel very fortunate to be able to capture Chef Nobuo’s story – which is filled with a lot of fascinating elements – he truly strived beyond the hardship not only to be a chef, but to be accepted.

Take a look at one of Andrew's videos on making glutinous rice dumplings.

 

For more reads on Malaysians doing films: read Dhyan Vimal's tips for a frist-time director