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A Romance with Indonesian Cooking

A few months ago, we received an email from one of our former design interns, Lilian Liem. She got in touch to see if we’d be free to meet up with her mother, who was planning a visit to Hong Kong from Melbourne, where they are based. We sat down with Irene one day last November and a very interesting conversation ensued. She introduced the cookbook, “A Romance with Indonesian Cooking” that she wrote, and designed with Lilian’s help.



The hardcover book, is beautifully designed and tells the story of their family and how Irene’s late husband, Dr. Liem, loved to cook. When he passed away, Irene spent every day for a year, in the kitchen, cooking his recipes from her memory, as he had never written any of them down and invited their friends over to share stories, and to taste his cooking. We decided that afternoon to see how we could promote the book, and we began a dialogue to put together a small event and host a lunch for friends in Hong Kong.



The result of a few months planning and numerous email exchanges resulted in three days of shopping, preparation — chopping vegetables, making spring rolls and grilling satays ahead of the cooking demonstration and lunch on Sunday April 14th. The lunch featured recipes from the cookbook. Guests arrived at Salon No. 10 and enjoyed a casual lunch with dishes such as Gado Gado (mixed vegetable salad and peanut sauce), Bakmie Goreng (Dr. Liem’s Hokkien noodles), Babi Kecap (Braised pork in sweet soy sauce) and Sayur Asam (Sour Vegetable Soup). It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

Special thanks to Paola and Ignacio of Tangram, and to Alex and Ellis of Moustache for their support and enthusiasm for this event. Thanks as well to all our friends and guests who attended the lunch. We hope you enjoyed it!









A Romance with Indonesian Cooking
is a mother and daughter collaboration. Together they used their writing, photography and design to capture the story of two people: Irene, the mother, and Dr BK Liem, the (late) husband and father, whose love of good food, and love of each other, inspired them to cook and present the dishes they loved. Irene’ and BK’s pathways may have been different but it was the human spirit and determination that made their respective dreams come true.

The book comes in two parts, the first detailing Dr Liem’s family history and his journey from his humble beginnings in Indonesia, through to communist China during the Cultural Revolution and finally, to starting a new life as a practising doctor in Australia. The second part relates how Irene, his wife from Hong Kong, who did not know how to cook Indonesian dishes, attempted and succeeded in bringing alive the much loved recipes he cooked for his family and friends.

A Romance with Indonesian Cooking — What Dr Liem Ate at Home by Irene Liem. Design and photography by Lilian Liem @2012

We have limited copies of the book for sale at the studio. If anyone is interested in purchasing a book (HK$250), please contact us at info@whitespace.hk for more information and details.

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