Last year, HBO Asia delivered some scares with their anthology horror series, Folklore but this year is they’re going right after our tummies with Food Lore. The brand new HBO Asia Original anthology series will tackle the subject of food and cuisines with episodes that will explore human conditions with narratives inspired by Asian cuisines.
Food Lore will premiere Sunday, 3 November 2019 at 10pm on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 and 431 HD). Helmed by award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo, the eight-episode hour-long series is shot in eight countries across Asia and directed by some of Asia’s most talented storytellers including Ho Yuhang from Malaysia.
Like a favourite dish from home, each story is a flavour of love and set to tease the senses. Viewers will be taken on an emotional journey filled with passion, treasured memories and a little spice of Asia. Each episode possesses a distinct voice, tone, and narrative.
The Malaysian episode Food Lore: Stray Dogs (Episode 8) is scheduled to debut on 22 December at 10pm on HBO GO and HBO. The episode will revolve around an ambitious young businessman, Tim, hopes to start a restaurant franchise with the bad-tempered, yet genius chef, Maki, in Kuala Lumpur.
The grouchy chef rejects Tim, but they gradually form an unlikely friendship. When Tim discovers Maki’s secret sambal recipe, he is torn between his desire to sell the recipe and his loyalty to his friend.
Set and filmed in Malaysia, Stray Dogs is directed by Yuhang and stars Wilson Tin and Fabian Loo. In a recent interview with the director, he revealed that the story of Stray Dogs was inspired from life, specifically characters who the director knew himself.
“Frankly, the story is a bit of a photocopy of people I know and that also applies to the story as well,” explains Yuhang. “That’s essentially how I approached the story by basing one part on those elements and the story I wanted to tell and allowing things to just fall into place.”
Yuhang admits that compared to Folklore, Food Lore was a bit more of a challenge because of the subject matter that is involved. “Food was a bit more difficult because I think everyone is more familiar with food and because not everyone has had a supernatural experience,” he adds. “So you probably could get away with things with horror but not really when you’re portraying food because you can’t really take liberties and shortcuts.”
The director admitted that prior to shooting Stray Dogs, he hasn’t done anything with food on film. “It’s a highly technical process, so what you see in the film is actually stuff we cook and prepared,” he reveals.
Yuhang explains that the production roped in a food advisor on set, who was not only responsible on advising the crew on the food and also cooking some of the dishes. “He’s a good chef too so he helped us out during some of the close up shots as well,” he adds.
The food advisor wasn’t the only qualified cook on set either as Wilson Tin who is the chef in the story, actually owns a restaurant as well. Having that experience would seem fortuitous to the story on many levels, but Wilson admits what appealed to him the most was actually the development of his character and the friendship he strikes up with Fabian’s character. “Personally, I think this story gives a meaning on life, on people…friendships and also on how people can make amends in their life as well,” he says.
As for Fabian, he reveals his involvement in the production was basically set the moment Yuhang decided on the story. “I read for Yuhang years ago for a part, but I didn’t get the role,” he explains. “But we always said that one day, we should work together. One day he came to me and said, you better be available for this (Stray Dogs) because I didn’t cast anyone else.”
Yuhang explains that the story of Stray Dogs centres on sambal, which is like the supporting piece to the story, and element, much like the condiment, which adds a bit of flavour to the story. Without giving away too much, Yuhang elaborates that the two characters played by Fabian and Wilson basically form this friendship over this sambal, which is prepared by Wilson’s character who’s the chef in the story.
“I didn’t want to make a big drama out of it but I wanted to play off that friendship. It’s not really something I’ve done before so it’s refreshing for me for being able to tell that with this story.”
Food Lore premieres Sunday, 3 November 2019 at 10pm on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 and 431 HD).