The Blue Flower Party That Almost Wasn’t

“Can you talk?”

Phone in one hand, luggage and baby Noah in the other, I typed those words and hit Send from the immigration line at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Almost immediately my Note 8 started ringing in response.  

All around me were signs that said “No Phone Use Allowed”, but desperate times called for desperate measures. I picked up.

I’d just flown in from Siem Reap and I was frantic. With my Wok Around Asia filming commitments wrapped up, I had been looking forward to my last 2 nights of R&R in KL before heading back to Sydney.

It now looked like my dreams of chilling by the poolside and eating up a storm in KL were going to be dashed and for that, I blamed Alexx, my good friend and founder of blue flower products store

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Alexx is a remarkable entrepreneur who has found success in numerous and diverse real world businesses, but when it came to building brand awareness for her latest venture of blue flower products, she needed help to link up with influencers.

That’s how it all started.

Alexx wanted to throw a party showcasing dishes that incorporated blue flower extract, but apart from yours truly, she didn’t know who to invite. I gave her some pointers on how to weed out the fake influencers that proliferate social media, but Alexx being Alexx, she decided the party would happen in a matter of days, not weeks. There just wasn’t enough time for her to build up a list.

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In a momentary lapse of judgement, I agreed to invite some influencers on her behalf.

Now, I’m usually on the receiving end of such invitations, not the one trying to entice people to attend. Still, I put my ego on the line and fired off a bunch of messages while travelling and filming in Siem Reap.

After much back-and-forth, I received about 12-15 RSVPs about this blue-themed dinner party to be held at 5pm in Chatswood, 17 hours after I was to get back to Sydney.

Not too shabby, I thought, in view of the short notice. One of the guests, Tammi Matrouh, would not be able to get there until 7pm, and I relayed that to Alexx. No drama.

While waiting for my plane at Siem Reap airport, I received another RSVP, this time from an influencer who came highly recommended by another one of my contacts. This would be a perfect fit, he said; Chatswood was just a short distance from him, plus he was looking forward to catching up with his old friend, Tammi.

Siem Reap Airport

This was almost too easy. I prematurely patted myself on the back.

Two hours later I landed at KL airport, turned my phone back on and was immediately flooded with incoming messages from Alexx. A family emergency had come up, and the caterer had had to drop out.  Alexx thought we should cancel.

I was not happy (to put it mildly); after all my hustling to get all these RSVPs, hell would have to freeze over before I told everyone it wasn’t happening after all.

Well, how about YOU do the cooking, she suggested. That was like a man telling an angry woman to calm down.

I wasn’t about to land at Sydney airport after a gruelling 3 weeks of travel, run to get supplies, then spend hours toiling in the kitchen for an event where I was originally invited as a guest, then roped in as organiser, and now expected to cook. Plus I’m frankly sick of being the designated caterer at everyone’s special occasion.

So I started talking on the phone to my restaurateur friend in Sydney while waiting in line at immigration, half expecting to get pulled aside by Malaysian authorities for blatantly breaking the law.

Could you, or anyone you know, step in and cook with 2 days’ notice, at your busiest time of the year with Chinese New Year right around the corner, for no reward besides collaborative exposure? The answer was a firm “No”.

Then, just when it looked like a lost cause, Alexx responded that she’d found someone – Sue Zaleha, an up-and-coming Sydney-based Malaysian caterer at Dapur Ibu Catering.


The location had to be changed to Sue’s backyard in Parramatta, which led to some dropouts, including by the influencer I’d talked to while waiting at Siem Reap airport. Still, at least it was going ahead.

That wasn’t the end of the drama, however.

Sue Zaleha was horrified when a large group of influencers showed up at her door at 5pm. I was equally horrified when I got a call from one of the group to say they had all been turned away and told to come back in 2 hours.

As it turned out,  Alexx had changed the start time to 7pm without my realisation – she thought my mentioning Tammi couldn’t make it until 7pm meant I wanted the event moved to a later timeslot. I pondered at the prospect of featuring in a future episode of Women Who Murder.

I didn’t think anyone would return but to my amazement, they all did.

As is typical of Alexx, she pulled out all the stops to make sure everything was exquisitely presented.

Some Malaysian kuihs (snacks) that Alexx brought along for the evening

We spent the evening under a beautiful marquee indulging in a vast array of traditional Malaysian food courtesy of and Dapur Ibu’s Sue Zaleha, not to mention a gorgeous jelly cake by Siew Heng Boon of Jelly Alchemy, as we caught up with friends new and old.

All’s well that ends well, as some English playwright once said.


For more information about Sue Zaleha’s Dapur Ibu Catering Service, contact her on Facebook >>

And to learn more about blue pea flower and other superfoods carried by Alexx, visit

Check out Siew Heng Boon’s Jelly Cake creations at

In case you’re wondering, yes Alexx and I are still on speaking terms; in fact I’m going to be producing a series of blue flower-themed recipe videos for her in the near future. Evidently I like living on the edge.

Blue flower rice by Sue Zaleha


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