Igniting a Malaysian Food Movement: Meet Tracy Goh
We've had the pleasure of getting to know and even take a (virtual) rendang class with Tracy Goh, who's on a mission to celebrate, educate, and uplift Malaysian cuisine in the Bay Area. We're excited to share with you a little about Tracy!
Tracy Goh was born and raised in Damansara Utama, near Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Food was a medium of love, and played a central role in family bonding. Her working mother insisted on cooking wonderful family dinners after 10-hour work days. The Goh family also enjoyed food-motivated road trips where Tracy’s father would drive for hours to taste the freshest seafood in a fishing village or a popular noodle soup from a hawker cart. Growing up among Malaysia’s multicultural population, Tracy’s early exposure to a broad variety of cuisines had cultivated her sensitive palate and an appreciation for complex flavors from a young age. Her cooking skills however, were limited to electric rice cooker meals and cup of noodles until she left home to study in Australia in her early 20’s.
While studying abroad, Tracy learned to cook simple meals from online recipes and many international phone calls with her mother. She eventually graduated from dorm room cooking to more advanced recipes. Her culinary exploits reached a new level when an opportunity to live and work in San Francisco presented itself in 2012. In an attempt to meet like-minded food enthusiasts in a new country, Tracy posted photos of her traditional cooking on Instagram under the @EatWithTracy handle and invited curious but eager strangers to experience Malaysian flavors in her one-bedroom apartment. The small dinner parties quickly turned into frequent pop-ups with 20 to 60 guests at rented venues. Tracy realized that she could be filling a gap in the market for Southeast Asian cuisines. She began to focus full-time on promoting Malaysian cuisine in the Bay Area. By the end of 2018, Tracy had served several thousand guests in more than 500 pop-ups held around the city.
What inspired you to become a chef/food biz owner?
The early Instagram food community, circa 2011-2013. While in-between jobs and contemplating my career direction, I spent a lot of time cooking and documenting Malaysian dishes on Instagram. That was back when Instagram was just a startup with few users. I was surprised when strangers began to show interest in my posts and asked a lot of questions about the dishes and ingredients that they had never heard of. I made my first food friends in San Francisco on Instagram. Through their encouragement, I started a supper club in my 1BR apartment. (Refer to the bio above)
Why did you want to highlight the food you are creating?
I noticed the lack of diversity in Southeast Asian cuisines despite the very exciting and colorful food scene in San Francisco. While some Asian restaurants are abundant, a huge part of the Asian continent isn’t known or represented here. I feel that people are receptive to our cultures and cuisines if they have access to the knowledge, and food is the most inviting medium.
What is your favorite dish? Is there a story behind it?
Bak Kut Teh, a Chinese-Malaysian herbal pork stew. I have lots of memories of spending father-daughter time with my dad having Bak Kut Teh at an outdoor food court as early as 7:30 am, before he dropped me off at school and went to work.
What does courage mean to you?
Rerouting, restarting, persevering through obstacles.
Where can we expect to see you in the next few years?
Hopefully in a brick-and-mortar, thriving.
Thank you so much Tracy for sharing her story with us! Tuk Tuk Box is proud to exclusively feature Southeast Asian ingredients and include refugee, migrant, and generational stories in every box.
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