Aaron – cute, dorky guy in glasses – teams up with his long-time friend Lee – the tall and charming one – to share their fast-track formula to delicious meals in their debut cooking show, 2 Dudes & A Kitchen.
While they’re at it, the duo also stir in tips, tricks and shortcuts as they are determined to show viewers how to rustle up quick and yummy dishes in 10 steps or less. Having traveled extensively in Asian and western countries, both of them are skilled enough to whip up either an authentic spaghetti bolognese, or a local delicacy like the onde-onde.
Aaron and Lee also insist on using easily available tools and ingredients from Panasonic Cooking, IKEA, Kawan Food and Jaya Grocer, so you no longer have to scratch your head trying to figure out where to get that exotic Italian herb!
We recently had a chat with the two witty and talented dudes, just before the premier of their show.
Why did you two decide to do a cooking show? How did you know each other?
Aaron: Well, we’re both long-time friends, and we share the common love for food, so naturally we started cooking together. Lee won’t stop coming over to my place anyway [laughs], there was nothing I could do about it. Our friends and family love our cooking, so we thought, hey, wouldn’t it be great to share our cooking with more people? We spoke to a few production companies, and eventually we managed to get TLC on board, so here we are!
How do you guys design the recipes for each week?
Aaron: We didn’t want it to be random. In real life, we encounter a lot of events, like football night, gym night, vegetarian night, date night–like Lee for example, he dates a lot [laughs]. So it’s based around themes, and we try to decide what’s the best kinda food for each theme. If it’s football night, what kinda food would guys like to have while enjoying the game? The themes are universal, so the show is not catered to boys alone, it’s for everyone.
Lee: It wasn’t easy, we had our fair share of arguments, because we cook very differently. We designed the recipe to make things as simple as possible. For example, not everything has to be done from scratch, or need three days of marinating. The recipe is simplified, made-easy, and anyone can follow.
Is this show made for rookies? How easy is it for a beginner to follow?
Aaron: The thing is, we’re not chefs. I don’t know of any other cooking program that is run by someone who is not a trained chef, or someone who does not own a restaurant. We’re your regular guys, normal people who enjoy food, so I don’t think it gets any easier than that. Our methods are very easy. There is nothing super-complicated that you have to learn.
Lee: For any novice, I think you just gotta dive in head first and find out. If you’re completely new, just like when we started out, your dish probably won’t turn out perfect, but that’s exactly how you learn. No experience? No problem. Just get in there and start doing, you’ll never know what you’re actually capable of pulling off in the kitchen.
Describe your style of cooking.
Aaron: Our styles are very different. Lee is actually pretty good. [Lee interrupts to say he’s way better than Aaron] He can look at different things and put them together, he’s more of the fusion guy who likes to push the boundaries. I’m more into comfort food; your cookies, bakes, and pasta kind of guy.
Lee: I am more by feel, I cook with my eyes. But if I cook a roast chicken, I will make sure it tastes like roast chicken. Whatever changes I make to the recipe, whatever I throw in or take away, it’s still gonna taste like damn good roast chicken.
Aaron: I guess I’m more scientific. If I’m cooking a steak, medium rare is 2 1/2 minutes on each side, it’s a given, and it’s much easier to follow that way. The problem with using other methods, like feeling the back of your hand, is that is you need years of experience before you can nail that.
What are you two like with each other?
Aaron: Well, I’m the nice guy, Lee’s a bully. Expect to see him bullying me a lot!
What are your signature dishes?
Lee: Mine has to be tiramisu. Some tiramisu can be dry and cakey, that should not be the way. My tiramisu, packed with a secret ingredient, is very popular among family and friends!
Aaron: I have this one–I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, it’s my scallop potato. I’ve made it for a lot of people, especially my then-girlfriend, who is now my wife. My wife loves it, my mother in law loves it, the director of the show loves it too!
Lee: Yeah, and that’s probably why he’s married and I’m not [laughs].
Both of you spent a significant amount of time overseas. How has that affected your cooking?
Lee: Cooking for me started with my parents and grandmother, but that was pretty much it. In college, I watched a lot of cooking shows, and that’s when I really got into it; I started cooking, refining my recipes. Also, with all the travelling I’ve done, I draw inspiration from each country that I’ve been to, like Sydney, LA, and Bangkok.
Aaron: I spent a lot of time in US and Australia, so I’m more inclined towards western food; bakes, salad, and pasta. When you get western food here, sometime it’s not as good as it should be, one of my pet peeves is when I go to a restaurant and order like, say a spaghetti bolognese, and it just doesn’t taste right. Either the pasta is overcooked or the sauce isn’t right. So we teach you how to do that as well, how to get the right herbs, the beef stock, and so on.
What are your future plans? More TV shows, or maybe you’re planning to open up a restaurant?
Lee: We’d actually like to do more episodes, explore more possibilities. We really enjoyed the process of filming all 20 episodes of the first season, and we hope viewers will get just what we want to show them; and we want to continue doing it. The restaurant, not really, that plan is much further down the road.
Aaron: Yeah, we want to continue doing this, do it really well, and maybe have a second or third season, because that’s where we’d like to focus for now. We’ll see where it takes us!
For people out there who want to cook, especially guys who want to impress their dates, what advice would you give them?
Lee: Don’t try to be a hero.
Aaron: Yeah, keep it simple. Don’t try something overly complicated and screw it up, try something simple for the first time. Also, make sure to make it a few times before the actual date!
Lee: You can make a good experience out of failure, it can be cute I guess. But don’t complicate it, you guys might have to end up ordering KFC to make up for it.
2 Dudes & A Kitchen premiers on TLC on 23 of May, 9pm (Astro Channel 707).