BRIAN WONG, 35 WAN HAO CHINESE RESTAURANT
Chef Brian Wong was greatly inspired by his father, a chef. As a child, he would help at his father’s restaurant—the now defunct Lido Beach Seafood in Johor Bahru—and spend his days surrounded by his father’s friends, also chefs. Little wonder that he started cooking as young as nine and never looked back. He set a target for himself to reach executive chef by 40 years old, but managed to do so by 33 when he joined Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel as executive Chinese chef in 2015.
He feels that the 20s to early 30s is a prime age for chefs because they have the energy and the drive to try new techniques and prove themselves. But in his view, it takes a longer time for chefs to master Chinese cuisine due to its complexity and the numerous techniques involved.
At Wan Hao, chef Wong enjoys adding a modern twist to traditional Cantonese flavours, as seen in his new dish of braised Ibérico pork with Chinese sausage and yam. Typically, this traditional Cantonese dish uses chicken or duck; but he uses Ibérico pork instead as the meat is tastier and more tender. He believes a slight tweak like this would intensify the sweet and smoky flavours of the dish immensely. Chef Wong has also been experimenting with white pepper sauce, rather than the more common black pepper sauce, to pair with garoupa fish. "It adds a fiery kick that is comfortingly addictive but not being overly spicy for guests,” he says.