AWARDED THE CERTIFICATE of International Famous Master Chef for Chinese Cuisine, Chef Goh Ah Seng is the founder of Persatuan Tukang Masak How yu Kuching. This event is in conjunction with the association’s 22nd anniversary this year. Together with the Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants, Chefs Association and Kuching Koo Soo Culinary Friendship Association, Chef Goh as organiser, shares that the objectives of this event are to provide a platform for mutual learning and fellowship among Chinese culinary chefs, improve the level of standard of Chinese culinary skills, learn more about what the local cuisines Asia-Pacific region has to offer and promote Sarawakian ethnic cuisines and cultures.
The event will also help to promote Sarawak tourism as it is expected to draw huge crowds within the country and overseas, especially with direct flights from Hong Kong to Kuching. Hundreds of participants are expected from Malaysia, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Australia.
As a 1st generation Hainan chinese, Chef Goh’s father came from the Hainan Island, China. Cooking is Goh's means of preserving his Hainanese origins. Working in the kitchen since his teenage years, he remembers the will power he had to exert to stay in the trade.
“My friends would be out having fun but for me, there was no social life and it was hard work. But the good side was that I had food and a place to stay and one could get by without much of a salary.”
Having his restaurant Hoi Tin Lau in Kuching also resulted in sending his own son for culinary studies in China and other Asian countries. Chef Goh believes that the staying power of young chefs to achieve their goal in this trade is often spoilt by the lack of commitment. He feels that it is only through exposure from other chefs and cultures that one can improve and raise the level of culinary technique and skills. This he hopes for his son.
“Customers have changed in their way of dining in these past 20 years. They eat less and are more health conscious. Where we used to have 11 course meals, we only have 8 course meals today. Quality and not quantity is what is sought after.”
Comparing tastebuds between West Malaysia and East Malaysia, Chef Goh remarked "a big difference in the saltiness of the dishes. In Sarawak, we tend to put a lot less salt but the trend to add sugar has increased.”
“We are 4 to 5 years behind West Malaysia in our culinary skills, perhaps again, because of the lack of exposure. That is why this event is so important for Kuching.”
“Commercial cuisine may have altered traditional tastes, but in this profession, we must always improve and create new flavours and techniques that can only benefit our culinary culture."