Interview with Datuk Chef Wan

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Tell us a bit about how did you start your career, and what made you stand out among others in your field?

Ever since I was young, I have been helping my mom in the kitchen to make kuih to earn some extra income as a student, so I would say that I have learnt about hardship and perseverance. Breakfast and dinner and all, and being the eldest I’m supposed to try and help mom preparing breakfast for my younger brothers. As I grew up, during those days, Chef was not really a profession that was looked highly upon. Because of my good grades in school, I took on Accountancy during my higher education days. Believe it or not, I am a trained accountant by profession and spent 7 years in the banking industry and got bored! I switched to become a chef due to my love for good food and went on to pursue my degree in Professional Chef Training and Hotel Management from the California Culinary Academy and a Ritz Escoffier Diploma from the Hôtel Ritz Paris. In the end, my flamboyant character got me into showbiz and became a culinary ambassador for Malaysia due to the celebrity chef status. Why I stand out? Well let’s put it this way, I know there are many celebrity chefs out there and I think you know to be a good celebrity chef, you have to be entertaining. It is not just having the creativity, the talent, the smile, the personality and all that, it’s the whole entire package that makes people want to watch you.

You have tasted many kinds of food around the globe. Which country do you think has the most excellent indigenous cuisine, and which one is the worst? Share a bit about your thought.

From my background of Peranakan heritage, I think Nyonya dishes are the most excellent as they have depth in flavour in all the rich herbs and spices incorporated into the dishes.

As for the worst, I have to say Filipino cuisine.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in your career as a chef?

Jetsetting between Europe, Asia and Australia – 3 different continents in 2 days!

When was the last time you cried and what caused it?

When my granddaughter Ariana was born, it was such a special moment between grandfather and his grandchild.

If not being a chef, what other career choice would you pick and why?

A porn star….Just kidding! But seriously, I would like to play a drag queen, because it’s such a challenging role. And there are a lot of stories to tell about their world, stories that people don’t usually want to talk about. Basically what I mean is that if I was not a chef, I would be an actor.

As an outspoken person, were there any words or statement that you regret and wish you didn’t say?

Because of my outrageous statements, I got into trouble many times as some people might find my statement offensive. But I have no regrets whatsoever. I am what I am….As the ‘Food Ambassador’ of Malaysia, which of the country traditional food that you think is underrated and how would you promote it to international world?

Classic Malay dishes. Each state in Malaysia has their own unique flavours, ingredients and tastes with influence from Java, Turkey, Middle East, India and China. I am currently promoting it to the international world, through my extensive travels, cook show documentation and introducing them to international conferences.

What is your favorite Indonesian dish?

Sundanese food.

What is a ‘perfect day’ to you?

When 3 of my grandchildren come for a visit in the house that I live with my mother, just seeing their innocent antics makes me smile. Gardening is also a good way for me to relieve stress; as in practicing patience, or I could just spend a day reading a book.

How do you want to be remembered?

As the person who is not afraid to be himself!

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