KUALA LUMPUR: Once again, celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail a.k.a. Chef Wan has hit out at new faces in the culinary industry who call themselves celebrity chefs or master chefs.
The 61-year-old owner of De.Wan 1958 By Chef Wan Restaurant in Jalan Tun Razak wrote a lengthy post on Instagram yesterday that he had always insisted that no one should be called a celebrity chef or master chef unless he or she has had considerable experience as a chef.
While Chef Wan congratulated his old friend Datuk Fazley Yaakob for winning the World's Top Outstanding Master Chef 2019 award at the World Top Gourmet Awards 2019 in Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Jalan Imbi last Oct 17, he later had a "heart-to-heart talk" with Fazley and the event's organisers.
"I told them that in the future they ought to consult all national organisations of chefs to nominate experienced candidates. And the jury should not simply comprise experienced chefs but high profile and prominent masters in the culinary industry," said Chef Wan.
"It is a huge problem to see so many people appear on television calling themselves master chefs or celebrity chefs. This is not the way things were done during my time.
"One had to earn a diploma and undergo training first, gradually rising to become a demi chef, chef de partie, sous chef, executive sous chef and finally executive chef or corporate executive chef.
"You don't simply take a six-month culinary course and open your own restaurant to become a celebrity chef or master chef.
"You need to work for years to be a master chef," explained Chef Wan.
Chef Wan, who has 35 years' experience, said many culinary school lecturers, themselves experienced chefs, told him that they did not like the current trend where celebrities who could cook well called themselves chefs despite lacking experience.
"Culinary students have to spend a lot of money to be trained professionally as chefs. But there are some glamour-crazy people without much experience who call themselves chefs.
"On my part, I worked through years of chef school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, the United States, and I had to show my degree as proof that I was a professionally-trained chef," said Chef Wan.
"I insist, and have always insisted that only those with vast experience should be called master chefs."
Last May, as the chief judge of cookery show Raja Sawit on TV3, Chef Wan said only culinary graduates who have vast experience are worthy of the master chef title.
“You must have experience serving local and international customers, and you must know your kitchen inside out.
“If you don’t you are just an ordinary cook,” he said.
Chef Wan likened inexperienced chefs to “mi segera” (instant noodles), and advised them to keep learning from mentors instead of finding instant fame.
“I’m not against new chefs on TV, but please don’t call yourself a celebrity. You are just the host of a culinary programme.”
Chef Wan attended the World Top Gourmet Awards as Tourism Malaysia's Food Ambassador.
Fazley, a singer, actor, chef and owner of SukaSucre Bistro in Cheras was one of eight Malaysians who won the World's Top Outstanding Master Chef 2019 award.
The others were Amy Beh, Valmurugan Subramaniam, James Ho Soon Boon, Bernard Lee, Lim Wai Keong, Yee Weng Ding and Alexander Chong.
The winning chefs were judged based on their restaurants' menus, customer feedback, customer service, food presentation and food quality.
The established chefs who decided on the winners included Datuk Dr Lum Tuck Loy, Kent Vatcharavee Visetpohchanatip, Martin Yan and Jeffrey Tan.