He left his comfort zone to pursue his passion for cooking—and I must say—it was a risk worth taking.
With over 300 thousand followers on Instagram, Muhammad Adam Mahamed Ismail or better known as Adamdidam was a Strategic Planner at one of the oil and gas giants in Malaysia: Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS). But that was 5 years ago. Now, he’s found his place, surprisingly, at the comfort of his own home in the kitchen—and most importantly—he is happy with that.
Seeing where he is now, Adam himself never envisioned that one day he would end up as a social media chef. Born in Kelantan, Malaysia, Adam obtained his Bachelor’s degree at the age of 21 and for him, it was quite an achievement back then.
“I thought my life was all figured out. I started working with PETRONAS, doing strategic planning and I was the youngest there to lead major events for international and local audiences,” said Adam.
“I liked what I did in PETRONAS (strategic planning) and the lavish lifestyle I was living. You get to be at a different hotel almost every week. My office was on the 71st floor and we could use the sky bridge any time of the day—free of charge. That was the lifestyle I had. And I thought my life could never go wrong,” Adam reminisced.
Well, I had the same thought too listening to his backstory. That is the kind of lifestyle I would want for myself as well. But then again, why did he decide to leave behind the lavish lifestyle he had and most importantly—a secured monthly paycheck to become a social media chef?
“After 5 years, I didn’t really see myself growing in strategic planning. I love strategic planning—it’s a part of me. But I didn’t feel like I could grow much. I felt like doing something on my own, for my own self.”
The Major Turning Point
“The first video that I made for Instagram was of a dessert. It was a 15-second video of me making buoy loi (Thai dessert). It’s a coconut gravy with glutinous rice type of dish. They call it buoy loi because it looks like floating pearls. I think it’s almost the same as the Malay dessert badak berendam.”
In the beginning, he only shared the video within the close-knit circle that is his family. “Half of my family lives in the UK, and they wanted to learn my mum’s recipe. So, to make it easier, I turned it into a video and shared it with the family in the UK,” said Adam.
From the family, his video was shared among his close friends and soon, he began to post them on his Instagram.
“I started with one video. Within 6 months, I managed to complete 50 videos on my own—a one-man show. And since quitting my job at PETRONAS, now I have almost 400 – 500 videos on my Instagram,” he said laughingly.
But before all the fame, and despite coming from a foodie family, Adam admitted that initially he did not know how to cook.
“I didn’t even know how to cook maggi goreng or fry sausages. When I moved out to stay on my own in KL, that was when I started with all the cooking stuff. That was when I discovered my passion for cooking. I really enjoyed cooking. Even though I got back late from work, I still cooked for myself,” said Adam.
“It was really hurtful and, at the same time, embarrassing.”
Don’t worry, we merely asked Adam about his most embarrassing moment in the kitchen.
“It was my first day in the kitchen at Le Cordon Bleu—a cooking school in London. We have to make a roast chicken and I burnt myself,” he said before he started laughing.
“You just imagine, on your first day in the kitchen, you burn yourself completely on the palm. I just grabbed my pan straight from the oven without any cloth or anything. Stainless steel pan, of roast chicken, right from the oven, with your palm.”
“It was really hurtful and embarrassing as well because everybody was watching me and like—what were you doing? What were you thinking?” he shared while still laughing.
“I think that was the most painful and embarrassing moment in the kitchen. Luckily, I was okay. I don’t have any scars or anything. It’s fine now.”
Overcome The ‘What Ifs’ and Pursue The Dream
Leaving one’s comfort zone is definitely not an easy thing to do. For Adam, leaving PETRONAS also meant giving up a comfortable lifestyle and losing a steady source of income.
“Of course, I had my doubts and insecurities. All sorts of ‘what if’ questions came to my mind when I made my decision to quit my job. Thankfully, my family was very supportive. They really encouraged me to pursue my dream,” he said.
For those who are stuck somewhere because you have doubts and are afraid to pursue your dreams, here’s what Adam has to say:
“Parents’ blessings, have the guts, and build a support system.”
“Firstly, you need to get blessings from your parents. Ask for their du’a (prayers). If they are happy for you to pursue your dream, you should do it because you already have an important blessing. Just wait for another higher blessing that is from Allah (God),” said Adam.
“Secondly, as I said, we are humans, so we have doubts and insecurities. But please, do not ever be stuck in your comfort zone because you’ll end up there for the rest of your life. You’ll end up doing that forever for the sake of money and also because you don’t want to change. So, you don’t really do that because of your passion anymore and you’ll end up doing cincai (messy) work. Eventually, you don’t find yourself happy doing that,” he shared with a serious tone.
“Whenever you find yourself stuck in a comfort zone, try to take one step back and muster the guts. If you want to do this (pursue the dream) and you think you can do it, go ahead. Because if you have the guts and passion, you will do it until the end. You will really fight for it because that’s what you want,” he continued.
“Lastly, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. There’s also thunderstorms. Don’t ever imagine that your life’s going to be great just because you follow your dream. No. That’s not how life works. So, have a good support system in the form of family and friends. These people will keep reminding you why you are here and why you are doing this. You really need that to keep yourself continuing to do what you have started,” he ended.
And by the way, here’s a video of Adam telling you how to make Tom Yam Goong:
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