Malaysian Michelin star recipient learned trade from mum

Pertinence, co-owned by Ipoh-born Kwen Liew (right) and her Japanese partner Ryuosuke Naito, received one Michelin star in the 2018 Michelin Guide France. — Picture via Pertinence Restaurant

IPOH, March 20 — Like many chefs, Malaysia's new Michelin star awardee Liew Shiao Khuen, or Kwen Liew, received her early culinary training from her mother.

The 30-year-old said that when she was a child, her mother used to cook a lot for the family.

“But none of my siblings are in the culinary industry. The closest is my older sister who is in the F&B management,” Liew, who also has a younger brother, told Malay Mail in an email interview today.

Liew said her interest in cooking came naturally for her as she loved to eat.

“I love most of the food in Malaysia. I can't really say which is my favourite but I count nasi lemak, assam laksa , curry laksa and anything spicy as my favourite,” she added.

The Kuala Lumpur native, who received her early education in SJK (C) Puay Chai, said she went on to study culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu Australia, Le Cordon Bleu Thailand and ENSP France.

It was reported that Liew, who co-owns Pertinence Restaurant in Paris, France, with her Japanese companion, Ryunosuke Naito, received a Michelin star in the 2018 Michelin Guide France for its French cuisine.

According to Pertinence’s website, the restaurant serves French cuisine with Japanese technique.

The restaurant serves only 18 guests at a time.

On her award, Liew, who described herself as a happy-go-lucky person but serious in work, said the director of Michelin — Micheal Elis — came to her restaurant one day with a recording crew.

“We were shocked and happy at the same time as we did not expect it. Michelin is a big thing in France and we never thought it would be awarded to us,” she added, noting that Michelin is the first award she received in her years in the culinary world.

Despite the recognition, Liew said she does not plan to open another restaurant anywhere or anytime soon.

“I am not married yet, maybe after the restaurant is stable,” she said, adding she normally returns to Malaysia annually but it depends on her work load.