A 44-year-old Malaysian, who permanently lost his eyesight 14 years prior, is becoming known for his YouTube cooking channel
In 2006, Low Wee Keong, who was then halfway through his career as an aircraft engineer, became permanently blind due to an industrial accident.
Ever since the incident, the 44-year-old has found solace in cooking, a long-time passion of his.
Late last year, he was even inspired to begin his own YouTube channel, Blind In The Kitchen, which currently has over 1,000 subscribers. There, Low shares his takes on some Malaysian favourites including steamed yam cake, claypot chicken rice, and Hari Raya cookies.
Though Low is unstoppable in the kitchen today, the past 14 years were not without hardship
Speaking to SAYS, Low shared that there were personal obstacles he had to overcome in the wake of the accident.
"I had lost 14 years hiding myself. [I] blame[d] everything during the 14 years. Nobody [was] stopping me but myself," he said.
However, Low was not alone in facing these hurdles as his friends and family were always there to support and cheer him on.
In an interview with Free Malaysia Today, Low talks about the impact his friend from Australia has had on his life.
"I owe a lot to my friend from Australia. He supported me to come out of my shell and face the world. He was also the one who gave me the idea to start my own YouTube channel."
Even with his strong support system, Low finds great satisfaction in cooking his meals and editing Blind In The Kitchen episodes by himself
After coming to the realisation that he may not always be able to depend on others, Low now brings a 'can do' attitude to each of his endeavours - Blind In The Kitchen is just one example.
The YouTube videos are very much a labour of love as each episode can contain up to 50 separate clips, filmed with the help of a friend, that Low then has to edit together. Not to mention all the time and effort that goes into creating the recipes, preparing ingredients, and cooking the dishes!
When it comes to cooking, Low relies on intuition to tweak the flavours of a dish to his liking
In an email correspondence with SAYS, Low discussed the importance of paying attention to all his senses.
"Ever since the working accident, and I went blind, cooking has been something I could do. Because I lost the sense of sight, I never let my taste, smell and sound senses go to waste."
He talks about how he has now found the joy in experimenting with his recipes, saying, "Back then, I’d learn to cook to make tasty food for myself. But now, I will improvise, tweak and also modify each and every recipe to create something new."
Speaking to SAYS, Low names his mother and third winner of MasterChef USA Christina Hà as two people who have inspired his passion for cooking
His mother, Low says, taught him to transform everyday ingredients into higher-end meals.
"Growing up in a poor family, I learn[ed] not to be picky and at the same time, still enjoy the food my mom cook[ed]. Sometimes, if you think back, you do not need exceptionally luxurious ingredients to make something work," he notes.
Christina Hà, a Vietnamese-American chef, writer, and TV host, was the first blind contestant on MasterChef USA. According to Low, she has inspired him to not only share his dishes with a public audience, but contribute to the world of cooking.
Most recently, Low has been branching out and trying his hand at baking
When asked which dish has been the most challenging to execute, Low immediately answered with "German butter cookies!"
Unlike cooking, he points out, baking leaves no room for experimentation as ingredients have to be precisely measured and the heat used has to be just right.
Talking specifically about making the butter cookies, Low said he tried to comprehend how one could make something that melts in your mouth yet retains its outer structure.
"Truly amazing and challenging yet, a fulfilling experience when you get it right," he adds.
And got it right he did! Speaking to Free Malaysia Today, Low exclaimed that he ate the entire batch of cookies leading him to suffer through a sore throat the following day.
Low took the experience as a lesson. He told SAYS, "It's fun to do that [try new things], as you taste your own failure, you [can] sense success nearing every time. I know it's based on luck, but with passion, you will never run out of luck."
Just as he has found joy in cooking, the YouTube chef hopes his videos will help others feel the same way
With Blind In The Kitchen, Low hopes to create a community of people who are eager to try out his recipes and share their own experiences in the kitchen.
He says, "What I wish for is for them [his viewers] to try out the recipes and enjoy the process of cooking… If they are happy to cook an original or a tweaked dish, I will be happy to hear from them. That is my end goal."
Rather than fame, Low wishes to use his YouTube channel as a platform to encourage others to chase after their own success.
"Cook with love, passion, and the desire to create," Low says
So long as one leads with their heart, the passionate cook says that cooking is a craft everyone can learn.
He continued, "You do not need to be a master chef for others, but at least you can be a master chef for your family. If a blind man like me can cook, so can you."
Sugu Pavithra is another Malaysian who has brought the public much comfort with her cooking YouTube channel: