One of the parent’s hurdles when it comes to raising children is getting them to eat right. Samantha Lee, however, took this as a challenge as well as a platform to encourage her daughters to eat better through a creative process of plating meals. In this issue, Top 10 of Malaysia speaks to the practical yet creative Lee who turned a parenting task into a career as an International Food Artist.
As a stay-at-home mother, Samantha Lee realised that the benefits of home cooked meals outweighed that of eating outside as cooking gave her better control of the ingredients that her family consumed. She then took it to whole new level when she started turning her cooking into whimsical meals, each telling a story. “I wanted to encourage my daughters to eat healthily and independently, so I started making Food Art,” explains Lee.
Her efforts in creating unique dishes paid off as her two daughters now eat well. “They are both very adventurous with the food they eat. I don’t need to feed them as they eat independently,” says Lee, who takes pride in her children’s love for eating greens.
Not only was Lee successful in encouraging her daughters to eat right through her approach, she also attained a reputation as an International Food Artist from posting her Food Art meals on Instagram and gaining more than 700,000 followers since 2011.
Lee has also been making waves with international brands and top organisations around the world with her Food Art appearances in media channels such as BuzzFeed, Daily Mail UK, Huffington Post, ABC News, Glamour UK, InStyle, MSN, Yahoo!, E!Online, and People.
Her works of art have also enabled Lee to work with a range of brands that include ESPN, Tefal, AIA, Angry Birds, Samsung, Mastercard USA, Barbie, Turkish Airlines, and National Geographic by using her skills to tell stories for their campaigns and projects.
When it comes to the creativity that Lee applies to her Food Art, Lee attributes her inspiration to everything she sees. “I love eating and traveling, especially wandering around cities! When I travel, I sketch and I also get my inspiration from the creative art I see around me,” reveals Lee.
Lee also credits her children when it comes to her creativity. “They love to contribute ideas to my Food Art pieces and try to help me out in the kitchen,” quips Lee, who finds her children’s participation a great means for family bonding.
Lee’s approach to Food Art is one which is fuss-free and imaginative as she uses simple tools for her creations. She also does not believe in wasting food, using all the right amounts of ingredients in every meal.
When asked about her plating process at its duration, Lee adds that it takes almost the same time as preparing a normal meal, from cooking the food to plating it, roughly taking an hour from start to finish.
As for her challenges in creating Food Art, Lee finds working with ice-cream in Malaysia arduous. “Malaysia has a hot and humid climate and it is hard to handle ice-cream because it melts too fast!” she laments. That, however, did not stop Lee as she has worked with Ben & Jerry, curating Food Art workshops in the equally hot and humid Singapore.
Though big in the eyes of the world, Lee finds that her social media interaction keeps her down to earth. “Some of my followers share with me that they follow my artwork because it brightens their day and that is humbling. It is also a great encouragement for me knowing that I can bring joy to people this way.”
As for her 2016 plans, Lee hopes to release a book she is currently working on earlier in the year. She also intends to start a Food Art YouTube channel and aims to continue working with brands and companies that share her values of healthy eating and family bonding.
Looking forward, Lee wants to continuously empower and inspire families with her Food Art, bonding together through creativity, and eating in a healthy manner in the process, just the way she has done with her daughters.