TL&CC Q&A: Johnson Wong, chef and founder, gēn 根, Penang, Malaysia

21 March 2019

Johnson Wong is the chef and founder of gēn 根. After working in a number of acclaimed kitchens overseas, Wong returned to Malaysia and decided to take on a new venture by opening his own communal-style modern Malaysian restaurant focused on local ingredients.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Having supper with the team after a busy service.

What is the purest thing you have ever tasted? Mountain spring water.

What do you love most about what you do? Expecting the unexpected.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever been taught? Be responsible for the produce in your hands.

Is there anything you don’t particularly care to eat? I don’t have any food restrictions, life is short!

Are there any mentors or food heroes you would like to thank? Alfonso Crescenzo – an Italian chef I used to work for.

What is the dish on your own menu that most engages you? Soy sauce dessert from our current menu.

How do you like to spend your day off? With my baby boy, Joecher.

What does success mean to you? Putting 100 per cent effort into whatever you do.

What is your current obsession, the thing you think about at 3am? Which market do I need to visit later?

Can you tell us something we don’t know about you? I am a father of a little boy and six doggies.

Which three words best describe your cooking style? Origin, pure, identity.

If you could eat only one thing today, what would it be? French fries.

What do you see when you think of the cuisine of your own country? Full of character.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Is everything okay?

Which talent would you most like to have? Being able to draw well.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Be more sociable.

What do you think the food of the future will look like? Vegetables become protagonists and proteins play the supporting role.

What is your number one sustainability tip or trick? Always do things from your heart.

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