HEAD OF THE PACK
Chef James Won, owner-chef of Enfin by James Won, is transforming the local culinary scene, as a firm advocate of sustainable farming.
You’ve been getting your hands dirty, going into the forest to forage for ingredients. Are you working on developing your food-growing techniques?
I’ve spent the last two years doing a lot of research, trying to find what is feasible and readily available. When it comes to foraging ingredients that are unique to Malaysia, it is a collective effort with the natives in the jungle. We are working on farming on a smaller scale that is centred around high-quality produce and sustainability.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Nature and the people who are surrounded by the beauty of it. We have an abundance of unique ingredients out there, somewhere in the wild, but people are not actively making an effort to seek it. For example, we have wild avocados, pepper leaves, arugula, and sorrels. These are fancy ingredients that are imported, but are actually right in front of us. It all comes down to taking responsibility to champion what we have to offer.
How are these new ingredients you discover reflected in your food creations?
It has changed the way I structure my menu. When encountering unfamiliar ingredients, your mind is almost like an empty canvas, and there are no limits. This allows you to have more complexity, depth, and originality in a creation, which ultimately elevates the dining experience.
What changes do you wish to see in fine dining establishments in Malaysia?
Diners usually expect a cheese cart in restaurants, but why don’t we have a tropical fruit cart? From my excursions to the wild, I have discovered a variety of exotic fruit such as caramel-tasting bananas, which could impart an exciting touch to a very refined meal. A love to feed the mind, that’s what we need. 2.05, Level 2, Menara Hap Seng, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 010-288 7920. www.enfinrestaurants.com