The executive chef at Henry Wong, Tuck Weng Lee, talks ‘fusion cuisine’, names his choice as the world’s best chef and describes just what it’s like to eat ants’ eggs – and it’s not what you’d expect!
Tell us about your cooking
I would describe my style as ‘fusion cuisine’. This is a cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions that originate from different countries, regions or cultures. As a Malaysian, I grew up in a multi-cultural country where the food reflects the multi-ethnic make-up of the population. During my time in Malaysia, I realised that food is a beautiful way to connect people from different cultures and origin. This influenced my decision to become a chef focusing on fusion cuisine.
How did you become a chef?
I was inspired by my mother to become a chef. I loved the innovative way that she cooked when creating new dishes – blending different cuisines, experimenting with new ingredients, spices and techniques to create dishes that are not limited by traditional dishes. Every Malaysian’s home must have its own unique dishes created by the mother which you can’t get anywhere else.
What do you eat at home?
As a Malaysian-born Chinese, I can’t live without rice. Rice with different dishes is my daily diet
Who’s the best chef in the world and why?
Gordon Ramsay. His passion, work ethic and self-confidence has no doubt inspired the world. He is not only a chef, but also a leader, a mentor – many of his protegés have gone on to shine on their own and very brightly.
Is the customer always, right?
No, but no matter if the customer is technically right or wrong, always listen to the customer feedback and concerns and make sure they feel heard. Every complaint is an opportunity to collect valuable feedback.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
All types of snacks. In Malaysia, even the snacks are multi-cultural!
Food heaven and food hell?
My food heaven is anything with seafood. Food hell can be anything prepared by a chef that has lost passion for cooking.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Ant eggs. They taste a little bit sour and have a creamy and nutty flavour.
Share a cooking tip
The secret technique to roast the crispy pork belly is to apply a layer of white vinegar on the pork skin to enhance its crispiness. The critical part is to ensure the honey roasted pork is thoroughly marinated by repeatedly ‘bathing’ the roast pork using the honey glaze every 15 minutes and returning to the oven.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
Our house roasted crispy pork belly and honey roast pork.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I would have loved to play badminton for a living. I still try to play as often as possible. Even though I did not become a badminton coach, my son did!