50 Ground­break­ing Gas­tronomes from Around Asia

Whether they are creat­ing award-win­ning sparkling wine from in­dige­nous Tai­wanese grapes, de­vis­ing in­no­va­tive ways to re­duce food waste in Sin­ga­pore or rein­vent­ing tra­di­tional Sichuan chilli sauce, th­ese chefs, mixol­o­gists, food crit­ics and en­trepreneurs a


Meet the chefs, mixol­o­gists, food crit­ics, sus­tain­abil­ity war­riors and en­trepreneurs who are bring­ing in­no­va­tion and ex­cel­lence to Asia’s food and bev­er­age scene


WHY THEM? Founders of the Jig­ger & Pony Group, this hus­band-and-wife team can be cred­ited with el­e­vat­ing Sin­ga­pore’s cock­tail cul­ture in a ma­jor way. Their port­fo­lio of food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies in­cludes the renowned Ital­ian restau­rant Caffe Fer­net and such ac­claimed bars as Jig­ger & Pony and Gib­son, both of which were in­cluded in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018. In­dra and Guoyi are pas­sion­ate about in­vest­ing in their staff and are known for fos­ter­ing in­clu­sive and happy work­places.


WHY HER? The grande dame of Sin­ga­porean cook­ery and a cham­pion of Per­anakan cui­sine, Vi­o­let is a much loved me­dia per­son­al­ity and the founder, owner and head chef of Vi­o­let Oon Sin­ga­pore at Bukit Timah, Vi­o­let Oon Sa­tay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay and Na­tional Kitchen by Vi­o­let Oon at the Na­tional Gallery Sin­ga­pore. The for­mer jour­nal­ist and food critic has ap­peared on TV shows for the BBC, CNN and the Food Net­work and has writ­ten three cook­books. Last month, she launched an all-day din­ing and re­tail con­cept at Ion Or­chard, which fea­tures a 100-seat brasserie and a bou­tique where she will of­fer her own line of food prod­ucts cel­e­brat­ing lo­cal flavours and tra­di­tions.


WHY HIM? Lik Peng is the quin­tes­sen­tial re­nais­sance man. As found­ing di­rec­tor of the Un­listed Col­lec­tion: an um­brella brand for six bou­tique ho­tels and 16 restau­rants in Lon­don, Sin­ga­pore, Dublin, Shang­hai and Syd­ney, he has brought to life ac­claimed eater­ies such as Ja­son Ather­ton’s Esquina, Steve Allen’s Pollen, Dave Pynt’s Burnt Ends, Rishi Naleen­dra’s Cheek By Jowl, Ivan Brehm’s Nouri and Clay­ton Wells’ Au­tomata, to name a few.


WHY HER? Nichol co-founded the Food Bank Sin­ga­pore, which seeks to min­imise food waste by en­cour­ag­ing com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als to do­nate ex­cess food to the less for­tu­nate. With the guid­ance of a food hy­giene con­sul­tant, the food bank col­lects un­used in­gre­di­ents, cooks them in a cen­tral kitchen and packs the dishes into meal boxes to be dis­trib­uted to the city’s hun­gry. Nichol is also the pres­i­dent of One Sin­ga­pore, a char­ity work­ing to erad­i­cate poverty and hunger, pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion and advocate for the rights of mi­grants.


WHY HIM? Co-owner and chef at Odette, one of the most cel­e­brated French restau­rants in Sin­ga­pore, Julien is fa­mous for his con­tem­po­rary take on French cui­sine. Housed in the Na­tional Gallery Sin­ga­pore, his min­i­mal­ist pas­tel sanc­tu­ary re­flects his less-is­more ap­proach to food, which cen­tres on the pu­rity of in­gre­di­ents. The restau­rant boasts two Miche­lin stars and is on the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018 list. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Julien is col­lab­o­rat­ing with chef Alexan­dre Couil­lon of the two Miche­lin-starred La Marine on a one-off four-hands din­ner at Odette this month.


WHY HIM? The founder of Yu Zhi Lan restau­rants in Chengdu and Shang­hai, Guijun is breath­ing new life into Chi­nese cui­sine. His mis­sion is to re­frame clas­sic Chi­nese cook­ery—and the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that ac­com­pa­nies it—as lux­u­ri­ous, del­i­cate and in­ti­mate in the vein of world-class in­sti­tu­tions such as The French Laun­dry. De­clared by The New York Times as the new em­peror of Chi­nese gastronomy, Guijun is par­tic­u­larly known for his vir­tu­os­ity in Sichuan cook­ery and his fine, quasi-ja­pa­nese pre­sen­ta­tion.


WHY HIM? As ex­ec­u­tive chef at the Kerry Ho­tel, Pudong, Otto di­rects all things culinary at the Shang­hai es­tab­lish­ment’s three restau­rants: The Cook, The Brew, and The Meat. Otto em­ploys French cook­ing tech­niques and is com­mit­ted to us­ing seafood that is sus­tain­ably, eth­i­cally and, most no­tably, lo­cally sourced. In Septem­ber, he in­tro­duced seafood from Dalian, Haikou and Zhoushan to his menu at The Cook. He has re­cently been ex­plor­ing chilli farm­ing in Guangzhou and in­tends to in­cor­po­rate the fiery pep­pers into his dishes.


WHY HER? Food blog­ger, critic and cook, Jenny grew up in the West but was drawn back to her an­ces­tral home of Chengdu by her love for the re­gion’s fa­mously spicy cui­sine. From her base in Sichuan, she has con­trib­uted to mul­ti­ple pub­li­ca­tions in­clud­ing New York Mag­a­zine and Vice, as well as TV shows such as Anthony Bour­dain’s Parts Un­known. NEXT ON HER PLATE Un­der her new brand, Fly By Jing, Jenny is sell­ing her own takes on tra­di­tional Sichuan sauces, all of them made in Chengdu.


WHY HIM? Provoca­tive, in­no­va­tive and ex­per­i­men­tal in his ap­proach to food, this one-time sci­ence stu­dent is the chef de cui­sine at Shang­hai’s most avant-garde restau­rant, Ul­tra­vi­o­let by Paul Pairet, which has three Miche­lin stars. At Ul­tra­vi­o­let, dar­ing gastronomy is fused with mul­ti­sen­sory tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate a fully im­mer­sive din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in which light, sound, the­atre, scent and tem­per­a­ture are ma­nip­u­lated through­out a 20-course de­gus­ta­tion menu. Ul­tra­vi­o­let was placed eighth in Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Ru­mour has it that Paul and his team are work­ing to­wards a new din­ing con­cept with VOL Group, the com­pany be­hind Bar Rouge and Mr & Mrs Bund.


WHY HIM? A pioneer of up­scale veg­e­tar­ian cui­sine, Tony is the ex­ec­u­tive chef of Shang­hai’s Fu He Hui, which has a Miche­lin star. Spe­cial­is­ing in ex­otic fungi, the three-storey restau­rant has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a tem­ple of haute plant-based food that ap­plies French, In­dian and Bri­tish cook­ing tech­niques to tra­di­tional Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents. Tony’s con­cept of a US$120 tast­ing menu was ini­tially crit­i­cised (the Fi­nan­cial Times char­ac­terised Fu He Hui’s prices as “au­da­cious” in 2016), but the restau­rant’s pop­u­lar­ity has proven that din­ers are just as will­ing to fork out on ex­quis­ite veg­eta­bles as they are on red meat. THAT’S NOT ALL Tony is also a con­sul­tant to Yong Yi Ting at the Man­darin Ori­en­tal Pudong, Shang­hai.


WHY HIM? While study­ing at a New York univer­sity, Hangzhou na­tive Demos had a tran­scen­dent ex­pe­ri­ence at an up­scale dessert bar called Chika­li­cious in the East Vil­lage. Beguiled by the brand, he de­cided to bring it to China. Now, as the owner of the Chika­li­cious out­lets in Shang­hai and Bei­jing, he is chang­ing the way Chi­nese din­ers think about dessert, with prix fixe pas­try menus con­sist­ing of an amuse bouche, a main course (the fro­mage blanc cheesecake is not to be missed) and petit fours. Demos has also gar­nered high praise for build­ing an ex­ten­sive list of dessert wines and champagne. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Demos is launch­ing a project that will see Chika­li­cious bou­tiques serve as hubs for art exhibitions, wine tast­ings and tea shar­ing.


WHY HIM? Andrian opened In­done­sia’s first restau­rant in­spired by molec­u­lar gastronomy when he launched Na­maaz Din­ing in Jakarta in 2012. If you man­age to nab a spot at the 28-seat restau­rant, ex­pect plenty of sur­prises from the chef’s 17-course set menu, which plays with tra­di­tional In­done­sian in­gre­di­ents and flavours.


WHY HER? Vanessa took her fam­ily’s tra­di­tional herbal elixir busi­ness into the 21st cen­tury in 2014 when she founded Djamoe Work­shop, a pop-up class that trav­els around In­done­sia teach­ing young peo­ple how to make tra­di­tional herbal drinks. She has since taken it a step fur­ther by found­ing Jamu Jamu Co to sell her own healthy blends. OUT OF THE KITCHEN Vanessa is also an ac­tress and a Muay Thai fa­natic with a black belt in taek­wondo.


WHY HER? Af­ter study­ing at Le Cor­don Bleu in Paris, pas­try chef Talita re­turned to In­done­sia in 2013 to open Beau, a boulan­gerie and patis­serie. It pro­vides goods—all made with nat­u­ral, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents—to about 100 cafes, restau­rants and ho­tels in Jakarta. THAT’S NOT ALL In 2017, Talita served as the youngest and only fe­male judge in the World Pas­try Cup, an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion that takes place every two years in the French city of Lyon.


WHY HIM? The brains be­hind food blog Eat and Treats, Stanislaus is one of the most pop­u­lar blog­gers in In­done­sia. He is renowned for his glossy food pho­tos, which per­fectly cap­ture the curl of a noo­dle be­ing tugged from a bowl or the sheen of a ripe straw­berry. They are lapped up by his 200,000-plus fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. THAT’S NOT ALL Stanislaus’ ed­i­to­rial work is lead­ing to com­mer­cial com­mis­sions. He has worked on cam­paigns for mul­ti­ple lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional brands, in­clud­ing Star­bucks.


WHY HER? A so­cial en­tre­pre­neur who is pas­sion­ate about health, well­ness and the en­vi­ron­ment, Helga es­tab­lished Bur­greens, a pur­veyor of plant­based fast food, in 2013. Bur­greens has gone from strength to strength and now has four out­lets in Jakarta.


WHY HIM? This for­mer culinary di­rec­tor for the up­scale Anan­tara group of ho­tels be­came a bona fide celebrity af­ter ap­pear­ing on two sea­sons of the TV se­ries Iron Chef Thai­land in 2012. Ear­lier this year, he opened R.haan, a Bangkok restau­rant that serves tra­di­tional Thai cui­sine based on cen­turies-old recipes. The menu changes every four months in keeping with his com­mit­ment to us­ing sea­sonal pro­duce. In ad­di­tion to his role as co-founder and ex­ec­u­tive chef of R.haan, Chumpol is a culinary con­sul­tant for the Singha Cor­po­ra­tion, runs the highly re­garded MSC Thai Culinary School and works with Thai­land’s Min­istry of Tourism and Sports to pro­mote food tourism for his coun­try.


WHY HER? As founder and ex­ec­u­tive head chef at the Blue Ele­phant Group, Nooror is the pro­pri­etor of an up­scale Thai food empire that en­com­passes six Blue Ele­phant restau­rants around the world, from Paris to Brus­sels to Bangkok. Nooror also runs a cook­ing school and pro­duces her own line of meal kits and pack­aged sauces un­der the la­bel Blue Ele­phant Royal Thai Cui­sine. NEXT ON HER PLATE Nooror’s lat­est venture, Thai Brasserie by Blue Ele­phant, is set to open in Phuket in Jan­uary 2019. Nooror plans to ex­pand this more ca­sual din­ing con­cept into a fran­chise.


WHY HIM? Choti, as he is known,wn, took a big risk when he walked away from his fam­ily’s au­to­mo­tive com­pa­nympany to fol­low his culinary pas­sions, but the move has paid off. In 2014, he founded the Bangkok cock­tail bar Ves­per, which has ranked among Asia’s 50 Best Bars sincee 2016. He also es­tab­lished the Por­tuguese restau­rant Il Fumo, which ranked ninth in the Thai­land Tatler Best Restau­rants 2018 din­ing guide. Late last year, he opened the pasta bar La Dotta and re­cently launched Via Maris, a restau­rantt serv­ing Mediter­ranean cui­sine. He also works closely with on­li­nee fundraiser So­cial­giver.com, en­suringur­ing a per­cent­age of rev­enue from hiss bar and restau­rants is do­nated to char­ity.har­ity.


WHY HIM? Cof­fee con­nois­seur Tae has cre­ated an empire of brunch spots and ar­ti­san cof­fee shops across Thai­land. He is the founder of Think Beyond Com­pany, the din­ing group re­spon­si­ble for pop­u­lar cafes such as Roast, Roots, Ocken, Daily Roast and The Com­mons. With a par­tic­u­lar pas­sion for all things lo­cal, his mis­sion at spe­cialty cof­fee chain Roots is to show­case the best home-grown cof­fee from sin­gle-ori­gin beans pro­duced across Thai­land. Fur­ther­more, part of the profit from every cup of cof­fee sold goes to the farm­ers and pro­ces­sors to im­prove their liveli­hoods and com­mu­ni­ties.


WHY HER? Known as chef Tam, Chudaree was the win­ner of the first sea­son of Top Chef Thai­land and has since be­come a well-known fig­ure on the na­tion’s culinary land­scape. An advocate of the farm-totable food phi­los­o­phy and pas­sion­ate about curb­ing food waste, she or­gan­ises pop-up events with some of Bangkok’s best­known restau­rants for which she cre­ates in­no­va­tive menus us­ing sea­sonal, lo­cal pro­duce. Th­ese exclusive gath­er­ings fea­ture video and sound pre­sen­ta­tions that al­low guests to see where their food comes from and how it has been pre­pared. Chef Tam stud­ied nu­tri­tion and food sci­ence, and is in­ter­ested in show­cas­ing how food can help pre­vent dis­ease.


WHY HIM? Chef-owner of Miche­lin-starred French restau­rant L’ef­fer­ves­cence in Tokyo, Shinobu is lead­ing the fight against food waste in Ja­pan. L’ef­fer­ves­cence won the Sustainable Restau­rant gong at Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Shinobu re­cently opened Bri­co­lage Bread and Co, a cafe and bak­ery in Tokyo’s Rop­pongi district that is try­ing to cre­ate a closed-loop sys­tem, turn­ing all of its food waste into com­post that can be do­nated to the farm­ers who pro­vide in­gre­di­ents for the restau­rant.


WHY HIM? Zaiyu is the chef-owner of Den, the Tokyo restau­rant fa­mous for turn­ing Ja­pan’s tra­di­tional kaiseki cui­sine on its head. At Den, din­ers can en­joy the for­mat of a kaiseki meal—a multi-course menu of gen­er­ally del­i­cate dishes—but shouldn’t ex­pect solely tra­di­tional plates. One of the restau­rant’s trade­mark cour­ses is Den­tucky Fried Chicken, which at first glance seems to be sim­ply a bucket of deep-fried chicken wings but is ac­tu­ally suc­cu­lent morsels of daisen ji­dori— a par­tic­u­lar breed of chicken— stuffed with in­gre­di­ents such as red rice, pine nuts and car­rot. Ear­lier this year, Den was named the best restau­rant in Ja­pan (and 17th best in the world) by the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants com­mit­tee.


WHY HIM? One of the ris­ing stars of Ja­pan, Yasuhiro was named San Pel­le­grino Young Chef 2018, an award de­cided by a panel of the world’s lead­ing chefs. Cur­rently a sous chef at the two Miche­lin-star French restau­rant La Cime in Osaka, he has food­ies and food crit­ics ea­gerly await­ing his next move.


WHY HIM? Mingoo trained un­der the Spanish culinary star Martin Berasategui and Ja­pa­nese din­ing sen­sa­tion Nobu Mat­suhisa, and now young chefs from around the world are hop­ing to train un­der him. He is the chef-owner of Min­gles, in Seoul’s Cheong­dam-dong, which mixes (hence the name) Korean and Western flavours. Think dishes such as doen­jang creme brulee made with fer­mented soy bean paste or kim­chi rolls stuffed with foie gras. THAT’S NOT ALL Min­gles was named the best restau­rant in South Korea by the Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants com­mit­tee ear­lier this year.


WHY HIM? Since he opened his epony­mous restau­rant in Seoul in 2009, Jungsik has been the face of “new Korean cui­sine”, which re­fines and el­e­vates tra­di­tional Korean dishes. In 2011, he opened the first in­ter­na­tional branch of Jungsik in New York. THAT’S NOT ALL Jungsik was the first restau­rant serv­ing South Korean cui­sine to earn two Miche­lin stars.


WHY HIM? Owner and head chef of Gallery by Chele (for­merly Gallery Vask, which fea­tured twice in Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants), Chele fuses lo­cal pro­duce with in­ter­na­tional flavours to cre­ate sur­pris­ing dishes in a chic, re­vamped space in Taguig, Manila. His menu in­cludes taste bombs such as tomato mochi with salmon and kesong puti (a soft cheese made from the milk of wa­ter buf­falo), and brioche buns with shred­ded Chi­nese beef stew. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Chele has a num­ber of pro­jects in the pipe­line, one of which will see him take charge of F&B at a new lux­ury re­sort in Bo­ra­cay.


WHY HER? A blog­ger, me­dia per­son­al­ity and food critic, Cheryl is a “taste­hunter” for the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants—the sole rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Philip­pines and one of only three in Asia. Cheryl wrote the first Wall­pa­per City Guide for Manila in 2014, is a pre­sen­ter on Fox Life Asia’s TV show Taste Trav­els, and founded her own events plat­form, Cross Cul­tures, which pro­motes ex­changes be­tween cul­tures through food to build a global com­mu­nity. This year, she has been fo­cused on pro­mot­ing Filipino cui­sine over­seas, or­gan­is­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions and pop-up din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that spot­light the na­tion’s gastronomy at restau­rants in Mi­ami, Bos­ton and New York.


WHY HIM? A pioneer of Filipino fine din­ing, Jordy is the chef-owner of Toyo Eatery in Makati City. In his min­i­mal­ist heaven of wood and pol­ished con­crete, he of­fers so­phis­ti­cated ver­sions of hearty lo­cal clas­sics such as Bangsilog—milk fish with sticky rice, free-range egg, chicharon and dried tuna roe. Toyo won Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants’ The One To Watch award this year, throw­ing a spot­light on con­tem­po­rary Filipino cui­sine and ce­ment­ing Jordy as a ris­ing star in Asia’s gas­tro­nomic land­scape.


WHY HER? A celebrity chef, restau­ra­teur and TV per­son­al­ity, Mar­garita al­ways has a full plate. The dy­namo op­er­ates a plethora of Ital­ian eater­ies across the Philip­pines, in­clud­ing Cibo (a 10-branch chain of Ital­ian cafes), Alta, Grace Park and Lusso. She re­cently launched two new ven­tures: Las Casas Manila by Mar­garita Forés, which serves clas­sic Spanish cui­sine from a re­vamped her­itage man­sion in Que­zon City, and Is­las Pi­nas, a funky new food hall that show­cases Filipino food from around the coun­try. She also hosted her own TV show with CNN, Har­vest with Mar­garita Forés.


WHY HER? As cre­ative di­rec­tor and restau­ra­teur at the Mo­ment Group, Abba has brought to life some of Manila’s most suc­cess­ful home-grown din­ing con­cepts such as Bank Bar, 8Cuts, Ooma, Mecha Uma and TMG Test Kitchen. She also in­tro­duced in­ter­na­tional brands such as Din Tai Fung and Lin­guini Fini to the Philip­pines. Un­der her watch, the Mo­ment Group re­cently took over the F&B arm of the mem­bers-only Manila Polo Club, re­vamp­ing its menu to in­clude favourites from the group’s port­fo­lio of restau­rants. Abba, a keen skier, hiker and diver, is now fo­cus­ing on ex­pand­ing the com­pany’s boom­ing cater­ing busi­ness.


WHY HIM? The au­thor of more than 10 books about wine, and a con­trib­u­tor to count­less news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, Yusen is Tai­wan’s lead­ing wine critic and has even been de­scribed as the best wine critic writ­ing in Chi­nese. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Yusen is work­ing with wine­mak­ers on the third edi­tion of Bu­vons Na­ture Tai­wan, the first fair ded­i­cated to nat­u­ral wines in the coun­try, which takes place at the end of this month.


WHY HIM? Thomas worked un­der Joël Robu­chon in Paris be­fore re­turn­ing to his home­town of Kaoh­si­ung to open his epony­mous restau­rant, which serves el­e­gant French food made with fresh lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. THAT’S NOT ALL Aside from its food, the restau­rant is fa­mous for its guest chefs. In re­cent years, sev­eral chefs of Miche­lin-starred restau­rants have trav­elled to Tai­wan to cook with Thomas, among them Alain Pas­sard and Pierre Gag­naire.


WHY HER? Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Har­vard Law School, Liz quickly re­alised that life as a lawyer wasn’t for her and re­turned to her first love, food. She be­gan her blog, SelfTaught Gourmet, in 2011 and quickly be­came one of the most re­spected food writ­ers in Tai­wan. THAT’S NOT ALL Liz re­cently launched Taster, an on­line food me­dia plat­form that in­dus­try in­sid­ers say is likely to be­come the Eater of Tai­wan.


WHY HIM? The son of Gloria Ho­tel Group chair­man Chen Jin-liu, Fudy grew up in ho­tel kitchens and din­ing rooms and quickly de­vel­oped a love for food and drink. Af­ter train­ing in Miche­lin-starred Amer­i­can restau­rants such as Per Se and Man­resa, he turned his at­ten­tion to the ori­gins of in­gre­di­ents and re­turned to Tai­wan to es­tab­lish an or­ganic farm just out­side Yang­ming­shan Na­tional Park. It sup­plies his Taipei restau­rants—tk Seafood & Steak, and L’id­iot—as well as many oth­ers. THAT’S NOT ALL East End, one of the bars owned by Fudy’s fam­ily and the only one in Tai­wan to col­lab­o­rate with the renowned Ja­pa­nese mixol­o­gist Hidet­sugu Ueno, was listed in Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2017.


WHY HIM? Chien-hao is the wine­maker be­hind Moscato Oro Vino For­ti­fi­cato, a for­ti­fied wine made from Tai­wan’s golden mus­cat grapes that has won mul­ti­ple awards and is served in sev­eral Miche­lin­starred restau­rants. THAT’S NOT ALL An ex­per­i­men­tal project with Glen­fid­dich saw Moscato Oro Vino For­ti­fi­cato casks used to fin­ish Scotch. All 301 bot­tles of Glen­fid­dich Vino For­mosa Cask Fin­ish Sin­gle Malt Scotch Whisky “Spirit of Tai­wan” were snapped up by col­lec­tors be­fore the official re­lease ear­lier this year.


WHY HER? With her late fa­ther, Ben Yang, who was chair­man and CEO of Si­non Cor­po­ra­tion, Vivian founded Tai­wan’s Weight­stone Vine­yard Es­tate & Win­ery to cre­ate a fine sparkling wine out of in­dige­nous grapes, some­thing some crit­ics said couldn’t be done. The naysay­ers are now eat­ing their words. Vivian’s wines have been rep­re­sented at lead­ing in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions since 2016, in­clud­ing the De­can­ter World Wine Awards and the In­ter­na­tional Wine Chal­lenge. In April this year, the quar­terly mag­a­zine World Fi­nance named Weight­stone one of the world’s most in­no­va­tive and busi­ness-savvy pro­duc­ers in its Fine Wine Re­port.


WHY HIM? A mav­er­ick mixol­o­gist with a host of busi­nesses to his name, Shawn is on a mis­sion to el­e­vate Malaysia’s drink­ing cul­ture. In 2013, he co-founded Kuala Lumpur’s hippest speakeasy, Omakase + Ap­pre­ci­ate, which is fa­mous for its hid­den door and cus­tom cock­tails. He also es­tab­lished Rad Im­pres­sions, a spir­its ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tancy that of­fers work­shops and cour­ses in bar­tend­ing and spir­its ap­pre­ci­a­tion. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Open Bar by Shawn Chong, which will fo­cus on in­no­va­tive tip­ples that in­cor­po­rate lo­cal in­gre­di­ents.


WHY HIM? At De­wakan, a restau­rant in Shah Alam, the cap­i­tal of Se­lan­gor, head chef Dar­ren pays ho­mage to Malaysian wa­ters, farms, jun­gles and moun­tains with de­gus­ta­tion menus that es­chew tra­di­tional lux­ury in­gre­di­ents, such as caviar and truf­fles, in favour of those in­dige­nous to the coun­try. Renowned for his unique food phi­los­o­phy, Dar­ren trav­els the world speak­ing at var­i­ous gas­tro­nomic events, in­clud­ing this year’s Re Food Fo­rum in Bangkok. He will be speak­ing at next year’s Food & So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence in Paris. Dar­ren is also co-owner of Food Tour Malaysia, which or­gan­ises ex­cur­sions to the most au­then­tic places to eat in Kuala Lumpur.


WHY HIM? This gas­tronome cham­pi­ons haute French-asian fu­sion at his three­storey restau­rant, DC, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. As chef and owner, Dar­ren com­bines clas­si­cal French tech­niques with sea­sonal lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and flavours typ­i­cal of the Thai city of Chi­ang Mai, which he con­sid­ers his sec­ond home. In recog­ni­tion of Dar­ren’s vision, DC re­ceived Malaysia Tatler’s T.din­ing award for Best In­de­pen­dent Restau­rant in 2018. NEXT ON HIS PLATE Dar­ren re­cently opened a much-an­tic­i­pated sec­ond restau­rant, Bref (mean­ing “brief” or “short” in French), which serves sim­pler fare in a re­laxed at­mos­phere.


WHY HIM? Per­haps Malaysia’s best-known chef, James trained at Le Cor­don Bleu and honed his culinary skills at three-star Miche­lin in­sti­tu­tions in France and Ja­pan be­fore es­tab­lish­ing his flag­ship restau­rant, En­fin, in Kuala Lumpur. Opu­lent decor and an es­o­teric wine list ac­com­pany a re­fined French menu at En­fin, where Euro­pean clas­sics such as caviar with pommes souf­flé, chopped egg and chives sit along­side Eastern in­no­va­tions such as abalone with oys­ters, chicken broth, os­man­thus and chrysan­the­mum. In recog­ni­tion of his com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence in F&B, James was named an am­bas­sador for the champagne house Krug in 2014 and is also an am­bas­sador for Hen­nessey co­gnac. THAT’S NOT ALL This gas­tro­nomic mae­stro also has a so­cial con­science. When not broil­ing, char­ring and de­hy­drat­ing at En­fin, he works in a lo­cal soup kitchen.


WHY HIM? In an age where peo­ple are in­creas­ingly con­scious of nu­tri­tion but have less and less time to cook for them­selves, food prepa­ra­tion and de­liv­ery ser­vices like Malaysia’s Dah­makan are be­com­ing wildly pop­u­lar. Since he founded the com­pany in 2015, CEO Jonathan has taken Dah­makan from start-up to star player, se­cur­ing early in­vest­ment from a Sil­i­con Val­ley-based seed ac­cel­er­a­tor, Y Com­bi­na­tor, to build and ex­pand the com­pany across Asia. Dah­makan ac­quired Thai food de­liv­ery ser­vice Polpa ear­lier this year. THAT’S NOT ALL The for­mer in­vest­ment banker was fea­tured in Forbes’ 30 Un­der 30 list for pi­o­neers in re­tail and e-com­merce this year.


WHY HIM? No one pulls off fu­sion cook­ing quite like Vicky. The chef es­tab­lished his restau­rant VEA in 2016 with the aim of mak­ing, to use his own phrase, “Chi­nese and French” food, us­ing French cook­ing tech­niques to ex­plore Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents and flavours. “Every dish we do has a story and the story is about Hong Kong,” Cheng said in a re­cent in­ter­view with Hong Kong Tatler.


WHY THEM? Twins Joshua and Caleb are the co-founders of cosy She­ung Wan cafe Com­mon Ground, a dumpling bar in Copen­hagen called Gao, and, per­haps most im­pres­sively, Taste Kitchen, Hong Kong’s first restau­rant in­cu­ba­tor. Lo­cated in PMQ, Taste Kitchen hosts up--and-com­ing chefs and restau­rants for months-long pop-ups, giving­ing ris­ing culinary stars a space to ex­per­i­ment and re­fine their ideas be­fore com­mit­ting to open­ing a per­ma­nent­ma­nent venue. THAT’S NOT ALL Through theirheir con­sul­tancy, Twins Kitchen, they­hey work with brands on pro­jects rang­ingng from restau­rant de­sign to find­ing ways to up­cy­cle cof­fee grounds.


WHY HER? Some­times de­scribed as the Ju­lia Child of Can­tonese cui­sine, Theresa is the founder and CEO of Dashijie, a brand that makes tra­di­tional Can­tonese del­i­ca­cies such as moon­cakes, mul­ti­ple va­ri­eties of XO sauce and pick­led gin­ger slices, among many oth­ers. Theresa was taught her craft by the late Pearl Kong Chen, a leg­endary Can­tonese chef who pub­lished sev­eral fa­mous cook­books.


WHY HER? #Nochar­si­uno­life is Jan­ice’s In­sta­gram hash­tag, but her love of food goes far beyond hum­ble char siu. The re­spected food critic has been pub­lished by The New York Times, Wall Street Jour­nal, Eater and the Asia Tatler ti­tles. THAT’S NOT ALL Jan­ice’s be­lief in the im­por­tance of sustainable farm­ing and lo­cal pro­duce in­spired her to es­tab­lish Hon­estly Green, a plat­form con­nect­ing sustainable busi­nesses through which she has founded a string of ur­ban farm­ers mar­kets, in­clud­ing Tong Chong Street Mar­ket and Poho Mar­ket.


WHY HIM? Craft beer has be­come a fix­ture on Hong Kong’s bar scene over the past few years and its me­te­oric rise is partly down to Ro­hit. The en­tre­pre­neur kick-started the lo­cal craft beer move­ment when he es­tab­lished Young Master Brew­ery in 2013, mak­ing clas­sics such as pale ale and more ex­per­i­men­tal beers us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents such as salted lime. Brews from Young Master Ales are now stocked in many of the city’s trendi­est bars and five-star ho­tels, and ear­lier this year, Young Master picked up the most medals of any par­tic­i­pat­ing brew­ery at the an­nual Asia Beer Awards.


WHY HER? At an age when most of her peers were opt­ing for the cheap­est bot­tle from the wine list, Sarah was hon­ing her nose en route to be­com­ing, at 29, the world’s youngest Master of Wine. The third woman in Hong Kong to claim the ti­tle, Sarah is also an as­so­ciate at the In­sti­tute of Wine and Spir­its, a So­ci­ety of Wine Ed­u­ca­tors cer­ti­fied spe­cial­ist of wine, and a VIA Ital­ian Wine Am­bas­sador, with the lat­ter well suited to her love of Barolo.


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