With 30 years of experience under his belt, the 47-year-old Chef Yong Bing Ngen is now the Chef-owner of three restaurants in Singapore with the opening of his latest venture, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant. He believes that a good Chinese chef should have a solid foundation of Chinese cooking skills and be continuously exposed to the different ingredients and produce available in the market. Harmoniously introducing new ingredients, which he discovers, into his menu is his guiding culinary philosophy. The Malaysian-born chef aims to continue to innovate and push culinary boundaries while keeping true to the roots of Chinese cooking.
Winning awards since 1992 when he was named Leader of the Year by Novotel Bangkok during his stint there, Chef Yong's most recent wins were the At-Sunrice GlobalChef Award and the Asian Cuisine Chef of the Year at the 2013 World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence. He was also recently awarded the 2011-2013 Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards Regional Series where he won Best 10 in Asia, Platinum Winner for MasterChef - Asian Cuisine and Best 10 in Asia, Platinum Winner for Chef of The Year. Locally, Chef Yong has also received a slew of accolades, picking up multiple awards at the World Gourmet Summit over the past few years, including Chef of the Year, Asian Cuisine Chef of the Year, and Asian Restaurant of the Year. His childhood dream of becoming a teacher has in a sense come true, as Chef Yong has been picking up mentoring awards such as the Workforce Development Agency's WSQ Most Supportive Mentor Culinary Chef award, and the At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy Mentor Chef Award from 2009 to 2012.
Interview with Yong Bing Ngen
What does being in the World Gourmet Series Awards Of Excellence Hall of Fame mean to you?
I feel very honoured and happy as it is a recognition of my dedication. The master chefs whom had taught me before not only imparted their skills to me but guide me on the right path to becoming a chef. Even if my teachers are no longer around, I still feel strongly on my calling to be a good chef and continue to share my skills and knowledge with the next generation. To me, becoming a chef has always been the correct path even though there were setbacks which have all been a learning and growing process.
Who / what inspires you?
Customers, friends and foes inspires me.
Customers will give positive feedback and friends are always supportive and encouraging. However, receiving too many good or positive feedback, one tends to forget that there is still room for improvement and that’s when foes come into picture. Foes could come in different forms - it could be criticism or competitors hence it is important to learn from them so as to motivate and push myself to do even better. It is important to strike a balance between the positive and negative.
Do you have a quote that you live by?
Everything is achievable as long as you have faith, determination and courage.
What's your philosophy when it comes to food?
I believe that as a Chinese chef, one must have a good basic foundation and be exposed to the different ingredients and produce available in the market. I enjoy harmonising them into the menu which allows my creativity to flow into the cuisine so as to continue to innovate and push culinary boundaries while keeping true to the roots of Chinese cooking.
What advice would you give to the younger generation who would like to follow in your footsteps?
More haste, less speed. Take a step at a time. Always focus on what you do and the chance will come.
What other cuisines would you like to master, apart from Asian cuisine?
Basic Chinese country food (???) in search of the originality of taste and flavours.