Foodies, let us ask you a question. Were you ever curious to find out who prepared your palate especially when they’re hands down the best? If yes, congratulation. You’re showing signs of appreciation to the ones carefully plated your meal into perfection. Food is a form of art, without boundaries. Every chef has their own creativity, and if you love it, say it. Today’s blog is an appreciation post to the chefs in Penang who stood out in terms of taste, presentation, passion and personality. We’re going to walk you through their background and experiences. That’s right, this is part of the “9 Series” in conjunction with George Town Festival‘s 9th Anniversary.
Editor note: Ranking is not in particular order.
1. Chef Nurilkarim @ Jawi House Gallery
An award-winning chef in Malaysia, Chef Nurilkarim has won numerous awards during his undergraduate years. He joined Cilantro at Micasa Hotels, Kuala Lumpur in 2011, the only Malaysian Restaurant listed in the Miele Food Guide. He then returned to Penang to be the Executive Chef and Manager of Jawi House. There, he designed the Peranakan Muslim Heritage Menu and the organisational plan of the Heritage Café and has since hosted over hundreds of events at Jawi House .”I have always had a very strong passion for cooking from an early age, not only in innovating Asian dishes but trying out different combinations of herbs to enhance local flavours with bland European food.”
2. Chef Weng @ Indigo at The Blue Mansion
Chef Beh Weng Chia honed his skills for over 10 years in distinguished restaurants across Australia, the USA and Malaysia. Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, he is now the Executive Chef of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, where he helms Indigo restaurant. Chef Weng implements his wide-ranging experiences across the globe on classical dishes, focusing on premium ingredients and adding a hint of local flavour. He is one of the few chefs in Penang that is born and bred in the island.
3. Chef Jack @ Chin Chin Gastropub
After graduating, Chef Jack joined Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and worked as part of the reopening team under the chefs at Ferringhi Grill. His breakthrough moment came when he was recruited by Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Chef Jack was then offered a position by Chef Armin Leitgeb to join Les Amis Singapore. It is one of the six restaurants in Singapore to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars. Watch how he spins his magic at Chin Chin Gastropub.
4. Chef Markus Lee @ Markus Modern Italian Cuisine
The young, passionate and talented, Chef Markus Lee started of his culinary journey from Penang. During the years of his apprenticeship, he has been trained and worked at various fine establishments. Most notably: Amador Restaurant (3 Michelin Star restaurant) in Germany, Shook @ JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur and Garibaldi from Singapore (1 Michelin Star restaurant). After spending a long time away, Chef Markus then decided to return to Penang to set up Markus Restaurant, a modern Italian cuisine restaurant in the year 2014. Markus is also a wine-centric restaurant, with over 180 labels of wines available.
5. Chef Waymann @ Golden Shower by Chin Chin
Born into a family rooted in the food industry, Chef Waymann is a naturally experimental budding chef and culinary artist. After honing his skills in El Faro, Penang and Pollen, Singapore, Chef Waymann is now based in Chin Chin Gastropub, but also spins around at Golden Shower by Chin Chin. If you’re lucky, you might get to see him perform in action at Golden Shower. His artistic tattoo, bold earring and strong personality made him a statement among the chefs in Penang.
6. Kebaya Dining Room
Owned by Christopher Ong, a heritage-preserving and award winning hotelier. He has worked along with Swiss-trained chefs, Chef Zac and Chef Kent to create a menu of classic Indo and Straits Chinese Nyonya dishes. They have worked closely together for more than six months prior to the opening of Kebaya. Armed with passed-on recipe and with the help of Nyonya aunties with a lifetime of Peranakan cooking knowledge. Kebaya combines the traditional Malaysian flavour profiles, Vietnamese lightness, Thai spiciness, and traditional French cooking styles. Thus, delivers surprising new twists of elevation in its serving.
7. Chef Yen & Chef Hong @ Jaloux
Different from the rest of the chefs in Penang, Chef Yen and Chef Hong’s background is rather “simple.” The 45-year-old Chef Hong is a trained graphic designer. Together with his partner, Chef Yen, a pastry chef, they embarked on a culinary journey since 2009. Started off with tiny Amelie Cafe on Armenian Street, Chefs Hong & Yen have built up quite a loyal following through their culinary offerings. The cafe then got an upgrade into Cozy in the Rocket, which is now called Jaloux. They stood firm on using the best ingredients they can source from within Penang themselves to churn out rustic, hearty Italian-inspired dishes.
8. Chef Johnson Wong @ Gēn 根
Gēn 根 literally means roots in English. Headed by Chef Johnson Wong, who once helmed the Dining Room at Macalister Mansion. He was an appointed Sous Chef working under Chef Eric Heijkoop before becoming the head chef of Macalister Mansion. According to Chef Johnson, Gēn sees him using locally sourced produce and presenting them into creative modern cuisine with local Malaysian flavors. Many of the dishes wind back to our childhood memories. The open-kitchen concept allows customers to completely watch over how the team prepares each dish.
9. Chef Wei @ A.Maze
Chef-Owner of A.Maze, Chef Wei is one of the youngest chefs in Penang to turn passion into business. The very young and talented Chef honed his culinary skills from overseas and had worked in Michelin-starred restaurants. A.Maze is the brainchild of Chef Wei, a rather small restaurant with only 16 sittings per night. There’s no menu or whatsoever in A.Maze, diners rely entirely on trust and creativity of Chef. Chef Wei draws inspiration from the island and works wonders into the ingredients available daily. That said, palates served is different every month.
Foodies, before you leave, come join our New Private Community Group! Feel free to ask questions, share your love for food, and explore the Penang community! We will also regularly post about casual promos and latest findings. Click on the image below and hunt good food with us today!