Asia’s Top 10 Most-Admired Chefs
What goes behind the kitchen is often an intrigue to many. The simple act of sourcing the right ingredients and making them into a delicious meal is an art that requires many years of dedication and practice. Hence, we share some of most-admired chefs in Asia who are whetting the appetites of foodies far and wide with their ingenious cooking styles.
A blend of dynamic passion and modest charm, André’s magnetism is as irresistible as his cuisine. This Taiwanese-born chef has a philosophy of using only the freshest of seasonal produce. André’s career spans numerous highly successful roles in various Michelin-starred establishments with some of the world’s top French restaurants including the masters of Nouvelle Cuisine – Pierre Gagnaire, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, and L’Astrance in Paris; La Maison Troisgros in Roanne and Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. Having made an indelible impression on the culinary scene since opening in late 2010, his restaurant, Restaurant ANDRE was recently ranked fifth in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Best Restaurant in Singapore as well as thirty-eighth in World’s Best Restaurant list by the coveted Restaurant Magazine. The New York Times mentioned the restaurant as one of the ‘Top 10 restaurants in the world worth a plane ride’.
Malaysian-born Chef Michael Wong is the Chinese Head Chef for Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur’s Chinese restaurant, Tai Zi Heen. With over 26 years of professional cooking and kitchen management experience, he developed an interest in food and cooking from a very young age and always helped his mother in the kitchen. His greatest inspiration is his first “Sifu” from Hong Kong who taught him a lot about Cantonese cuisine. He brings authentic Cantonese food into the realm of contemporary cuisine with dishes that emphasize original flavours with a modern twist. One of Chef Wong’s signature dishes is the Tiger Prawn with Garlic Mayonnaise. During his free time, Chef Michael loves to go swimming and play badminton to stay fit and healthy. He also loves photography as he believes a picture can inspire him to create his next dish.
Globally, Luu Meng is Cambodia’s most recognizable chef and is regularly visited by celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdaine. In Cambodia, he has earned the respect of his peers; he is president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, sits on the board of the Cambodia Restaurant Association and is co-author with Clive Graham-Ranger of the book ‘Cambodia’s Top Tables’. He has prepared meals for his King, Prime Minister, countless international dignitaries, movie stars and business moguls. Meng is not only a creative entrepreneur, he joins historical luminaries and culinary greats as microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, pioneering chef, Elizabeth David and Rene Renou, one of the most influential figures in French winemaking when he was awarded the Order National de Merite Agricole (the National Order of Agricultural Merit) for ‘his creation of Cambodian nouvelle cuisine and building a bridge to other culinary cultures’.
Chef Vindex is no stranger in Indonesia’s culinary world. With 23 years of vast experience and achievements in the culinary world, his expertise extends to the various gastronomic arts of Asian, Spanish, Mediterranean and American (including Mexican) cuisines, with specialization in Modern Asian and Indonesian dishes. Chef Vindex started his career at Amandari Resort, Bali, in 1989 and has since gained invaluable knowledge and skills from the various hotels he has worked in Bali and Mallorca (Spain) as well as 17 years work experience within The Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts in Bali, Los Angeles and Jakarta before joining The Dharmawangsa Jakarta in July 2011. Being the president of Jakarta Association of Culinary Professionals, a position he has held since 2008, has led him to fame when he was elected as one of the three judges for the famous reality show ‘Master Chef Indonesia’.
Yong Bing Nien
With 30 years of experience under his belt, Chef Yong Bing Nien is the chef-owner of three restaurants in Singapore: Majestic Restaurant, Jing and Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant. Working in the kitchen since his teenage days, he has climbed up the ladder of success through sheer hard work and won several awards including The Asian Cuisine Chef of the Year Award at the 2013 World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence and Best 10 in Asia, Platinum Winner for Chef of the Year at the 2011-2013 Hospitality Asian Platinum Awards Regional Series. His stints at several prestigious hotels like Novotel Bangkok and Raffles Hotel Singapore led him to forge valuable connections with taste-makers and other chefs in the culinary world. He credits his success to his ability to learn on the job and maintaining a good relationship with everyone in the kitchen.
Chef Manisha’s tryst with the kitchen began at the tender age of four when she chose to play with small tea kettles and cups instead of dolls. Manisha was instrumental in launching various new cuisine formats like WestView, the first grill restaurant in India where you could select the meats of your choice in 1996 and Dakshin, a restaurant that serves a rich varied cuisine of India’s four southern states in 2002. She was also responsible for launching the first branded banquet cuisine in India, Dehlavi. Since 2008, at ITC Maurya, she has been at the helm of the kitchen that ensured exceptional dining experiences for various heads of State including US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister, David Cameron. She continues to come up with new cuisine concepts and researches new ideas that serve to favour the diner’s palette.
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s interest in cooking started primarily through the influence of his mother, a geisha who worked in a ryotei (traditional high-end Japanese restaurant). Soon after high school, he took up a job at a well-known ryotei in Japan called Uotoko. Armed with sufficient experience, he further ventured into the culinary world by opening his own restaurant called Jimbocho Den at the age of 29. With a philosophy to make people happy through food, he models his restaurant around themes like playful, creative and natural. Strongly influenced by his mother’s cooking style, he has since developed his own taste and incorporates certain ingredients like dashi (Japanese stock), Japanese tea and kuzu (starch from Japanese root vegetable) in most of his recipes. Apart from having two Michelin stars, his restaurant is ranked as the third-best restaurant in Tokyo on Japan’s restaurant ranking website, Tabelog.
Boundless is a word that sums up Singaporean chef, Janice Wong. Her refined and ever-evolving dessert creations began with her studies at Le Cordon Bleu Paris to pursue a career in pastry. Eager to perfect her craft, Chef Janice Wong apprenticed in some of the most cutting-edge restaurants internationally, starting out with experience at Melbourne stalwarts, Fenix, The Botanical and Singapore’s Les Amis, followed by New York and Chicago institutions such as WD-50, Room4dessert and L20. She had the opportunity to work alongside celebrated chefs such as Gunther Hubrechsen, Loretta Fanella and Arzak. Dissatisfied with how desserts were never the highlight of a meal, she actively sought to change this perception by opening 2am:dessertbar in 2007. Her never ending passion for culinary art has propelled her forward to test the limits of dessert making, including constantly blurring the boundaries between sweet and savoury.
Born and bred in Hong Kong, Chef Alex Au is the Executive Chinese Chef for Pak Loh Chiu Chow at Feast Village in Starhill Gallery. From a very young age, Chef Alex learned to cook for himself and his siblings while his parents were at work. It wasn’t long before when destiny led him to Hong Kong’s famous Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant 16 years ago where he learned the ropes from the famous Master Chef Chan Tung. His culinary talents were recognised in 2011 when he and his team won the prestigious HAPA Platinum Award for “Most Authentic Asian Cuisine Restaurant”. He is known for his signature dish such as Chiu Chow Oyster Omelet and Slow-Braised Goose. When he’s not cooking up a storm, he scours the city for scrumptious local specialties and spends his time relaxing with his wife.
Chef Duangporn Songivsava completed her Master in Gastronomy in Adelaide, before returning to Bangkok to pursue her career in the kitchen. She first joined the team at Cy’an, in the metropolitan Hotel Bangkok. Bo then moved to London to work at Nahm where she met Chef Dylan Jones. It was ripe to open a truly remarkable Thai restaurant and in early 2009, she and Chef Jones opened Bo.lan. Passion and desire to create exceptional Thai food has only amplified over the years since the opening her restaurant. She has been constantly campaigning to raise awareness of important issues regarding Thai food and food security, whether through teaching at several leading Thai universities or on her weekly television Show Eat Am Are (Thai PBS). Recently Bo was presented with the inaugural award for Asia’s best female Chef as part of The 50 Best Restaurants in Asia awards.