DubaiOne TV / Dubai Eye 103.8 Radio - Sunday 17th January 2021
Spinneys Magazine - November/December 2021
On May 1, 2020, at the early peak of the pandemic, Melody Mok got a call to say she would be let go from her job with the postponed Dubai Expo.
“A lot of us were in the same situation, a lot of tears being shed. At the time there was no way of knowing if you’d get work anywhere else.” Scrolling through LinkedIn in the days that followed, she came across a peanut butter business founded as a passion project by a couple from New Zealand who quit their corporate jobs to go for it. “That was a real ‘pinch me’ moment,” says Melody. “I thought if they can do it with peanut butter, I can do something in Dubai with Asian sauces. I knew there was a gap in the market because we’ve got all these international brands but nothing that’s actually made in the UAE.”
An Aussie of Hong Kongese descent, Melody grew up eating across Sydney’s Far Eastern restaurants, including one particular Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall where she used to finish whole condiment jars of lemongrass chilli sauce with her bowls of pho. Overseas travels included visits to Balinese cafés and Malaysian hawker markets, which only deepened her love of those cultures’ varied spicy oils and sauces. “I want chilli in my food,” she says. So, with her husband’s support she developed her own line of condiments: a Vietnamese chilli sauce, a Chinese chilli oil, a Malaysian chilli sambal and now an Indonesian tomato sambal with shrimp paste and lime. They drew the brand name from a trip to Tanzania in 2019 and an actual “curious elephant” who wandered into the campsite where they got engaged. “He was curiously shaking a tree at four in the morning and fruit was raining down around us.”
By the time the Expo was up and running again, Melody was going so “full steam” with Curious Elephant that she declined the offer to return to her job. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life and career.” Having already collaborated with the likes of Pickl, the British Butcher Shop and beloved Japanese restaurant Maru Udon, she was so excited to be selected for the Spinneys Local Business Incubator that her husband recorded her “jumping up and down with happy tears” as she received the news. “Even when I took the plunge I never imagined my product on the supermarket shelves. For a small business to make that leap from startup to retail, aligning with the Spinneys brand is just so exciting.”
Entrepreneur Middle East - August 2021
There's a Spanish proverb that says that "the belly rules the mind", and I have often felt that I am a walking personification of that particular aphorism. And that is why I have often felt that I am particularly lucky to be able to live in the UAE, where a vibrant food scene is just waiting to be explored and enjoyed - but only if you know where to look. While the industry at large has had its own share of troubles to tackle amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the period has also seen a rise of entrepreneurs in the sector who have either launched new food brands, or doubled down on the ones that they were already running. Indeed, if there's one thing that can be said about the UAE's food scene, it's that it's never static - and it's the homegrown heroes that are almost always shaking up the marketplace.
Gulf News - August 2021
Homegrown concept Pickl have released another monthly special. This time, it’s all about breakfast.
Named The Morning Lineker, the newly launched burger ticks every box/ The special edition is on the menu for one month only, starting Monday, until September 4.
The team have teamed up with Melody Mok, an Australian-born foodie of Hong Kongese descent, who is the matriarch behind Curious Elephant - Dubai’s first company to bring freshly handcrafted, gourmet Asian sauces to your kitchen. Pickl have blended the Curious Elephant Chilli Sauce with mayonnaise to create a new and unique topping for the burger.
Curious Elephant, created by Melody Mok (an Australian foodie of Hong Kongese descent), offers chilli sauces to amplify everyday meals. You may have spotted the aromatic Chinese Chilli Oil with Sichuan Pepper and Peanut on Instagram, as the sauce has been gracing food bloggers' pages over the last couple of months. Why? It's made from fresh ingredients and showcases a blend of aromatic, slowly infused spices that leave a tingling feeling in your mouth. Those who love citrus notes will enjoy the Vietnamese Chilli Sauce with Lemongrass and Garlic. Both sauces elevate rice dishes, noodles, soups, stir-fries and even grilled meats and fish. You can mix it with mayo for a spicy sandwich spread too - the possibilities are endless!
The National - 17th November 2020
Curious Elephant Soulful Sauces was established in May, just a month after the Australian-born Downtown Dubai resident lost her hospitality role. She applied foodie knowledge from extensive travels to recipes inspired by her Hong Kong heritage, while her spouse channelled planning, operational and finance skills.
“The idea of having my own business in the food industry had been there for as long as I can remember,” says Ms Beale, 32.
“The day after I was made redundant, I was scrolling through LinkedIn starting the inevitable job hunt and came across a video about pursuing your dreams and not letting fear of failure get in the way.”
So, she aligned a perceived gap in the market with her aspirations to create freshly made, chilli-based Asian condiments.
What's On (November 2020)
"As you may know, we’re enthusiastic followers of anything hot sauce. And so we tend to get a little excited when a new homegrown brand of the fiery red stuff drops into view. Not literally, you only make that mistake once. Curious Elephant is a collection of craft Asian sauces, that includes such smouldering hotties as Vietnamese Chilli Sauce and Chinese Chilli oil, both of which were tried, tested and received full commendations from the What’s On condiment quality assurance board. Perfect for soups, dim sum, salads, grilled shrimp or roast chicken, or literally anything else that’s even remotely edible — and if you need some inspiration the website has a tonne of fuego recipe ideas."
Caterer Middle East (October 2020)
"A new homegrown Asian sauce brand has launched in Dubai, spurred on by the founder losing her job in the hospitality sector due to Covid-19.
Curious Elephant has been created by foodie Melody Mok, and currently offers two types of Vietnamese and Chinese chilli sauce for sale in the UAE.
Born in Sydney to Hong Kongese parents, and having travelled extensively around Asia, Mok is hoping to give customers a flavour of home with the Curious Elephant brand.
“Our two current products are quite authentic to the traditional Asian flavours that I grew up with and love,” she told Caterer Middle East. “In fact, many of my clients from South East Asia remark that our products taste just as good as the ones they normally purchase in their home countries, so now they don't need to buy them overseas anymore. As well as being very close to the traditional Asian flavours, I have of course included my own creative cuisine spark to the two sauces. That’s what I believe makes them both so unique and desirable.”
Mok is hoping to increase the supply of Curious Elephant sauces as demand grows, with plans to enter the foodservice sector.
She said: “We are definitely considering reaching out to restaurants with our sauces to serve with their meals. Our Chinese Chilli Oil would be perfect as an accompaniment with dumplings and stir fries in restaurants and our Vietnamese sauce is perfectly suited to enhance seafood dishes. They are so versatile that they can even be used as a spread in a wrap in cafes/restaurants.”
Following a “phenomenal” initial reception, Mok has already started adapting her current recipes, including making the Vietnamese sauce vegan-friendly. Having made Curious Elephant her full-time profession, Mok says the plan is to expand it GCC-wide before going further afield."
"Curious Elephant’s chilli oil and chilli sauce are locally produced in the UAE. Not only do they make for good gifts, but you also end up supporting a local business. P.S. the chilli sauce can be made vegan upon request."
"Curious Elephant’s chilli oil is the perfect accompaniment to my steamed dim sum and deserving of the hype."