Up close and personal with Shirley Tay (Jun 28 2011)
I had the pleasure of interviewing Shirley Tay, a popular #LifestyleBlogger whose recipes have garnered numerous online awards. The young mother is no also stranger to luxury brands and travel topics, partly due to her exposure to these during her years of flying with an international airline in the 90s.
Easy-going, Vivacious, Witty, Efficient & Trustworthy.
If you were an animal/fruit, what would it be and why?
Tomato, since it’s a cross between fruit & vegetable! I’m an extremely versatile person; I can be funny & dead-serious. Tomato can be eaten both raw & cooked; demonstrating my flexibility & ability in multi-tasking & adapting to situations etc.
When did you start an affinity with writing/ blogging? How has it changed your life?
2009, when I stopped my full-time job to concentrate on my family. It gave me a lot of satisfaction now that I can “showcase” my own recipes. I’ve also met quite a handful of awesome readers from all over the world who are friends now. I would’ve started #blogging much earlier if I knew it’s so much fun!
What are the key topics that draw the attention of your blog readers?
Luxury Haven is a one-stop blog by an ex-Flight Attendant, sharing years of Fine Dining, Luxury Shopping & Travel, adventurous Fusion Cooking, plus bringing you the latest Sale Events & Contests. Do check out my Award-winning Recipes with step-by-step picture instructions!
What is your niche? What forms the bulk of your readers?
I guess it’s the “mystery” behind what post will be popping up next that draws my readers. It could be a restaurant/product review, travel, latest recipe/shopping deals or a contest to win some great prizes.
Recently, I’d just given out 7 handmade bracelets & also a Supor Cookware! Readers can also check out the latest deals ranging from 1-for1 Dining Offers to Free Pap Smear Test for Ladies!
To date, about 60% of my readers are Singaporeans, 20% from USA, 5% each from Malaysia & UK & the rest are pretty much spread out. The bulk of it comes from #FoodBuzz USA where my recipes are listed & the #Google Search Engine.
I understand that your recipes have won quite a few mentions and awards. Care to share with us which was your proudest moment?
My latest “Bittergourd Chicken” has won me the Tasty, Healthy Recipes Contest 2011, organized by #SingHealth Group. I’ve been invited to do a shoot for their Wellness TV Cooking Videos, where they will be filming my cooking. It’s a community project covering over 200 dedicated TV screens across all SingHealth institutions like SGH, KK Hospital, Poly Clinics etc.
My favourite recipe that has the “Wow!” factor is the Hot & Juicy Baked Cheesy Bacon Scallops. The dish is featured at #PtitChef (French website), #OpenRice S’pore & lately, in #Munaty Cooking Magazine.
Why do you think brands like your content? What are the brands you have worked with?
Versatility? Probably the ability to portray different images & contents.
Brands I’ve worked with: S’pore Tourist Promotion Board, Open Rice S’pore, BreadTalk, Lazy Gourmet (Les Amis Group), S’pore Dine, Gryphon Tea Company, Tai Kong Seafood, Tshirt Printing (UK), RoboMop Int’l, Specialty Produce (San Diego) & many more from USA/UK.
In your opinion, language proficiency versus content, which is more pertinent?
Both are of vital essence. Take for example a dish; it won’t taste good if either the ingredients or seasonings are insufficient. I believe language fluency as well as adding value to my contents in order to engage & attract my audience. I’m still learning every day.
What are your best writing experiences so far?
Blogging has been a marvellous adventure for me so far. I’ve been receiving very positive comments from both sponsors & readers, & they’ve been most generous with their approach.
One of the best experiences was being scouted by #CareMeridian, a well-known Subacute care facility located throughout western USA. I’m just a small-time blogger in Singapore, so I’m most flattered to be picked for an ad placement in my blog, as well as to have an article bringing attention to traumatic brain injury in the US military.
The other two is related to food. I was privileged to be invited to Celebrity Chef Bob Blumer’s Cooking Workshop & also, Celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn’s Middle-Eastern Fine Dining, on separate occasions during their visits to S’pore. It was an amazing gastronomic experience with the charismatic Chefs.
What is Shirley like when she is not blogging?
Indulging in my other hobbies like reading, gaming, eating, shopping & turning my kitchen upside down.
I’m also a free-lance Trainer, teaching Adult Workplace Literacy. It’s a government-funded program & my students are Singaporeans & PRs. Majority are from Malaysia & China, with a handful from Thailand & Indonesia. During special occasions, I like whipping up dishes to feed my students, aside from textbooks.
Family life plays an important role in my life as well, especially when my son is in his teens now. I’d like to spend quality time with them. Hubby & I had just celebrated our Anniversary at Night Safari some months ago. We wanted to do something different instead of the usual fine-dining. Read all about it @ Spooky 20th Wedding Anniversary!
What’s the driving factor behind your articles? Readership or self satisfaction?
7 yrs as a Flight Attendant has brought me to many beautiful places to savour the best, shop for bargains & bring my dining experience back to Singapore & turned it into a cooking passion.
When I first started blogging, I just wanted to share these wonderful journeys. Most of my friends don’t cook, so I find it a joy being able to impart my knowledge.
I enjoy hosting dinner parties. My ex-bosses, colleagues & friends who’ve tried my cooking always encourage me to set up an eatery. It’s such a compliment but I often take it with a pinch of salt. I’m more than happy & satisfied to be able to share my recipes amongst other stuff in my blog. Most importantly, blogging shouldn’t be a chore & bloggers shouldn’t write just for free things. Of course, having sponsors is a bonus!
Do you see yourself writing for a charitable cause? Why?
Why not? There’s a famous term in Chinese that I’ve learnt from young. In English, it means “Let those with money contribute money; those without will put in their strength (ability).”
I’m a blood donor myself, not that I’m not afraid of pain. In fact, I’ve a low threshold of pain & the thought of needles make me weak. But when I think of those in need of our blood, the pain is nothing compared to theirs.
I recalled the tragic Taipei Air Crash in 2000. I queued for hours just to donate blood at Raffles Place, where my office was located. There was an overwhelming response to the blood call for the crash victims. This shows that S’poreans are a warm-hearted lot; donors of different races & ages came together with a common goal, to donate blood.
“It’s a blessing to be able to give”, another Chinese proverb instilled in me.
Any encounter with a weird or absolutely rude and abhorrent reader?
Touch wood! None so far. Hahaha! I’ve heard horrible stories but my blog is a friendly place right from the start; no bitching. My readers are the most amazing people you can have, always with very encouraging, appreciative & lovely comments.
What is the best kept secret about yourself that you have yet to let on, apart from your youthful – looking skin?
No secrets, just stay happy & cheerful. Have a big heart! Anger & stress make a person grow old.
What advice do you have for young aspiring writers out there?
Blog for interest, not just for monetary returns. That way, you can be genuine & authentic in what you write. Oh, and be nice! Kindness begets kindness.
Interview By: Pepperconn