Sherson Lian comes from the school of hard knocks. Self-taught, he had his start in his mother's café kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, peeling copious amounts of garlic and onion. But from the chores came an appreciation for the culinary craft and a lasting aptitude for hard work, a trait to see him through his career as a chef and television host. “That opened my eyes to a new perspective in life out of the system. It was then I realised that if you work hard you'd be as successful as you want to be and no one can be in your way,” says Sherson.
From the family kitchen, he worked his way through local hotels and cafés. At one point, he was the owner of Paradise Corner in Kuala Lumpur, a stint where he cut his teeth at managing an F&B business.
But Sherson's rise to fame came when he was approached by a television producer to host the programme 5 Rencah 5 Rasa, where he introduced multiple recipes using simple Malaysian ingredients. Turns out Sherson was a talent in front of the camera. With his enthusiasm and easy approach to food, he had all the necessary ingredients for working on a food programme.
From simple home cooking to elaborate five-course dinners, Sherson is an adept Jack of all trades and a versatile host. “My message is that everyone can cook and that cooking is fun, exciting and it brings people together,” he says of his television persona.
He describes his personal cooking style as rebellious, fun and instinctive, a product of observation and self-experiments in the kitchen. “Most of my instinct was developed as I followed the cooks around me. I learnt a lot from them. Also, my dad is a very picky eater and that made all of us picky too. And when you're picky with your food, you naturally cook better food because you always have to please yourself first before serving others.”
An Asian Food Channel chef, Sherson has several programmes under his belt including Reality Bites and Great Dinners Around the World. For the latter, Sherson and three other Asian chefs whipped up meals for guests the world over, pairing food with spirits. “Cooking for high-profile guests such as the Duke of Argyll in Scotland and his honourable guests was one of our main highlights,” reminisces Sherson.
Following the completion of the show, Sherson and his co-host Johnny Fua set up Cookery Chemistry Solution to handle all aspects of the food business – from restaurant set-ups and food consultancy to shows and events across Asia. The cooking partners helped to set up Elegantology, a fashion eatery, the day-to-day running of which was turned into a programme called Reality Bites.
Sherson has since been the host and judge for Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines. His next television outing will be on a new Asian Food Channel show called Family Kitchen with Sherson, which will feature his family members on the show with him.
So what does it take to be a successful television host? “For me, it was being myself; the person I am that is passionate about food and sharing it with people. I think that applies to anything really. Be passionate, stay real, honest, work hard and play harder because when you play is when you get creative. Having that balance in life is important,” he says.
More adventure is in store for this enterprising chef. Sherson is opening a restaurant by year-end, inspired by the farm-to-table culture. “It will be more laidback with simple cooking and honest food,” says Sherson.