Maria's recipe for success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 June, 1999, 12:00am

Maria Lee has bounced back from the collapse of her bakery empire last year with her latest venture - a cookery book.

Despite losing $48 million in her attempts to save the business - and then breaking her left leg in a fall - Maria has thrown herself into her new project.

Simply entitled Maria Lee's Chinese Cookery, the book contains 46 recipes she created herself.

'One of my favourites is the sweet and sour pork Fujian style,' says Maria, who repeated each recipe until she had perfected it.

The book also contains essays written about life and her philosophy.

'Of course, I feel sad about what happened [to her business] but I always look forward, not backwards,' says Maria, who is in her early 70s and credits her mother for teaching her how to remain positive in the face of adversity.

'The book is dedicated to my mother as it was because of her that I know how to cope today. She told me never to give up too easily and that you have got to be strong and face your problems.

'I started from zero and now I've come back to zero, but I tell myself that I haven't failed because in between I did so many meaningful things.' Those meaningful things include bringing up three successful children (one son is a doctor and the other son and her daughter are lawyers), running a business that employed more than 2,000 people and establishing the Kwan Fong Charitable Foundation, which helps the elderly, the blind and the mentally and physically handicapped.

'I consider myself in the third chapter of life where I plan to do more writing [the outline of her planned autobiography is in the works] and I also want to devote more of my time to the arts and culture.' But will she start a business again? 'I don't think so . . . I'm too old for that.'