Taiwanese TV personality Chen Mei Feng is a veritable treasure trove of tips. After hosting the long-running A Date With Mei Feng for 17 years, she is so accustomed to dishing out healthcare advice and beauty tips that she can go on and on without stopping.
“People should learn how to take care of themselves, especially those my age, so that the young ones can rest easy as they go about their daily lives and not have to worry too much about us,” said 61-year-old Chen.
She was speaking during a press conference in Petaling Jaya to promote A Date With Mei Feng, which is available on dimsum, with new episodes to be simulcast.
The personable TV host was also at dimsum’s “Celebrate Asia With Us” roadshow in Penang on Jan 13.
“In Malaysia, people like watching dramas. But this kind of show is even better. In every episode, you will get to learn new things that benefit you and your loved ones,” said Chen.
Dubbed “Taiwan’s Most Beautiful Obasan” (obasan means “aunty” in Japanese), Chen had no qualms about revealing her beauty secrets, from tips on how to stop the knees from cracking and popping, to her secret to hiding grey hairs.
“When I’m shooting dramas, I’m required to have black hair. The problem with dyeing hair black is that grey roots start to show in a week or two. So, when I am not shooting dramas, I prefer a lower maintenance way to hide the greys. What I do is lighten my hair colour and add in highlights.”
She then went on to talk about how people always complain about their noisy knees and other joints cracking and popping.
“We are always advised to increase our collagen intake. But that is not enough. We also need to strengthen our muscles, as these help to support the bones. ”
But she stressed that senior citizens need to go for more age-appropriate exercises.
“I don’t go to the gym because high impact exercise and heavy weights are not suitable for people our age. I prefer low impact activities. I like to take slow walks, do some yoga and light stretching.”
Despite hosting what is essentially a cooking show for 17 years and publishing five cookbooks, Chen admitted that she is still not much of a chef.
“I’m always shooting dramas or talk shows, so I don’t really have the time and energy to do much cooking,” she said.
Still, she has a positive way of looking at things. “There are many young working professionals who also don’t know much about cooking or are not familiar with culinary terms. So, I help to ask the pertinent questions on their behalf.
“Let’s say the chef talks about superior broth – I’ll get him to explain what it is or lighten the mood by asking whether there is such a thing as inferior broth.”
If there is one thing she can dish up like a professional, it would be her favourite bak kut teh.
“It’s actually not difficult or complicated. I just brew up a pot of the soup using pre-mixed herbs and spices. I like to toss in lots of garlic, whole bulbs, unpeeled, for best results. And if you like it hot and peppery, then just add in lots of pepper. I guarantee you that the soup will taste really good. My friends love my bak kut teh and tell me that it is really good,” she said proudly.
She may not be a chef, but Chen is very much an avid foodie. In fact, she loves food so much that there is nothing she won’t eat. But sadly, she is lactose intolerant, so she has to be more careful with desserts.
“This is where durian comes in! If I feel like eating dessert, all I have to do is put some durian in the fridge and freeze it. The taste and texture will be exactly like eating ice-cream,” she said.
“Some people like to eat it deep-fried or made into a dessert. But I prefer natural flavours so I’ll usually eat my durian fresh.”
Rich And Fulfilling Career
It has been 41 years since Chen made her debut in the Taiwanese entertainment scene. She has mostly been singing and acting almost exclusively in Taiwanese, a variant of the Hokkien dialect also known as Minnan or Hoklo.
The TV veteran has been acting in Taiwanese dramas since the 1970s, and has 29 dramas under her belt.
But it was only three years ago that she ventured beyond Taiwanese waters and tried her hand at acting in Mandarin in a Singaporean TV drama The Dream Makers II.
Asked whether she is keen to follow the current trend of Chinese-speaking artistes entering China’s entertainment scene, Chen said she has been hesitant to take the leap.
“The problem is my language skills. My Mandarin is not that good. All these years, I’ve been singing and acting in Taiwanese, so I tend to speak Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent. I also feel that I can express myself better in Taiwanese.”
Though she enjoys acting, Chen said she now prefers to keep her workload light and steer clear of heavy roles.
“Filming is usually very tiring and the hours are gruelling. There is no time to rest or attend to personal matters. I prefer to take on something less taxing. Maybe some cameos or even a guest spot on some shows and roles that don’t require me to project an unusually strong personality.”
A recording artiste who had released eight Taiwanese albums in the late 1990s, Chen said she enjoys singing, especially when there are good songs.
She is not in a hurry to release a new album though. “If there aren’t any good songs, I’ll continue to wait.
“I want the songs to feel right and the words to be close to the heart,” she mused.
Chen has hosted 17 different shows but the longest-running is still A Date With Mei Feng. “I’ve learnt so many things over the years. And the best thing is I get to share the goodness with so many people,” she said. “Even now, I still look forward to each new episode. I’m still excited about learning new things, and helping others to take care of their own health.”
dimsum is a Malaysian subscription video-on-demand service operated by SMG Entertainment Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Star Online Sdn Bhd, part of Star Media Group). Download the mobile app today from Apple App Store or Google Play Store or stream directly from dimsum.my. All new subscribers will enjoy 30 days of free access. dimsum also supports Chromecast and AirPlay for subscribers to binge-watch on TV. For more information, log on to dimsum.my, Facebook (fb.com/dimsum.my) or Instagram (@dimsum.my).