“Hi I’m Shuiken. I was born in Scotland to a Filipino mum and Chinese dad who actually met in Edinburgh. So I grew up in Edinburgh, together with my sis, as one of the very few BBCs around (british born chinese-filipino for your info!).
I’m a Lawyer turned Actress and Jam Maker. It only very recently occurred to me that I should hardly be surprised that I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing now – making jam and pursuing acting. Picture the scene. A very tiny aspiring cook standing in the kitchen, who is attempting to tackle the endeavour of baking her very first batch of biscuits. Add the camera person with the imaginary rolling camera pointed towards the kitchen table of delights. That was my sister and I role-playing as kids in the kitchen of our parents’ home. And can you guess who played what role? You guessed it. As a child I loved to pretend I was on a cookery show while my sis would film it with her imaginary camera (she was a techie tomboy kind of kid). And I would proceed to give a running commentary along the lines of “and you just mix it all together in the bowl like sooo…” (they all seemed to say that line in the cookery programmes I watched).
I’ve always had a passion for cooking and experimenting with different foods. My sister and I started cooking from a very young age. We’d take turns to cook, cooking on alternate days. We never followed recipes. We would just cobble together delicious meals with whatever was in the fridge and the cupboards at the time. So I’ve always felt pretty confident experimenting with different types of ingredients.
I admit I’ve always been a bit of a Foodie. And I’ve always loved jam! Jam always just feels like such a delectable treat when you’re looking for that sweet something to spoil yourself with. I have a particular soft spot for crackers with cheese and jam (ok, maybe not everyone’s bag), but that’s the way my mum used to serve up jam when I was a kid, and I loved it!
When I finally grew up, I became a Civil Litigation Lawyer in Edinburgh for over 5 years. In 2009 however, I came to a point in my life where I wanted to explore a more creative side of myself. And after deliberating for some time, I finally plucked up the courage to hand in my notice, pack my bags and go exploring. Yes, I went exploring. Quite literally. And figuratively speaking. I went backpacking and explored the world for about 8 months and did some volunteering in Thailand and Nepal. I then headed off to New York City in the summer of 2010 to pursue acting. I thought to myself, “Well, who knows how this is going to turn out? But I just have to try anyway”. I didn’t want to be lying on my deathbed one day regretting that I didn’t do the things I wish I had done. I just knew I never would have forgiven myself if I didn’t at least try. And that was good enough for me. So I pursued acting in New York City for the next 5 years.
In about 2012 while I was home from New York for a few months, I started to experiment with making jams by combining exotic blends and Superfood ingredients. Because my mum had diabetes (and I try to be healthy myself), I didn’t want to make a jam with any added sugar. I eventually opted for white grape juice and apple juice as alternatives to using sugar. My family and friends loved these fruit spreads! At that time I thought it would be amazing to be able to make them available to everyone one day. And so when I moved back to Edinburgh in September 2015 I finally got the opportunity to start turning this dream into a possible reality – I began to work on a new creative endeavour, in the form of My Jam (now rebranded Taste by Fusion).
I think my mixed Asian background (Chinese/Filipino) has very much contributed to the fusion of different types of foods I tend to cook. And Taste by Fusion very much reflects this. For example, the Superfood ingredients that I add to each flavour are grown predominantly in the countries my parents are originally from. The Goji Berries in the Sweet Ginger Ninja flavour is a Super Berry grown in China and very widely consumed there for medicinal purposes. My dad too used Goji Berries in his chinese medical soups which he’d make for us. And then there is the Coconut Superfood in the Hot Blue Jamboree flavour. Coconut production plays a really important role in the national economy of the Philippines. And apparently, when my mum was growing up in the Philippines, her family had a garden just full of coconut trees!
Ultimately, my love for adventure and creative exploration has been the guiding force behind Taste by Fusion. Whilst trying to offer something a bit healthier than traditional jam, my aim is to also push the boundaries of what jarred food can be by combining flavours to bring to you a fusion of unique, mouth-watering tastiness!
Enjoy! And remember…don’t be afraid to push your boundaries and explore! X”