The Yum List chats with Kevin Ng about his new role as head chef of Gén Communal Table in Penang and some of his perceptions about the current food scene.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the head chef at Gén Communal Table in Penang. I studied culinary in the Cilantro Academy Malaysia. After graduation, I went to the US Virgin Islands, Dubai and the Maldives to further my culinary training. It was when I returned to Malaysia that I discovered Gén.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I am able to touch people’s lives. I enjoy the feeling of seeing people enjoying their food. It teaches me the discipline of not just being a chef but bettering myself as a person as well
The worst part is I have to sacrifice most parts of my life. I often miss out on a lot of gatherings with friends and family.
What are some of your favourite food and beverages?
One-pot cuisine such as stew, braised chicken and soup, and coconut and sugar cane juice.
What’s one of the wildest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
The wildest thing that I have done is trying to catch a Moray eel in the lobster cage during my time in the Maldives.
The perfect day off would be…
…having good food and have a great chat with my friends and loved ones or sometimes just chilling at home.
A day in the life of a chef Kevin Ng is…
… either waking up in the morning or afternoon, going to get some ingredients from the market then going back to the restaurant. Start my mise en place, have my dinner together with the team and carry out service from 6 pm till 11 pm. After work, I often go for a late-night supper with the team to have some good food and relax before returning home.
What do you do for fun?
Hiking and swimming.
What’s something you’d like guests to know when dining in Penang?
Be open-minded and explore interesting and new restaurants to support our growing community. Be honest with your feedback so that the restaurant and the chefs can improve.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
Braised pork and coconut juice.
What’s your take on the restaurant scene in Penang?
I would say is developing. Back in the day, most people only knew about street food in Penang. When I came to Penang a year ago, I was surprised to see Penang with lots of different restaurants. Penang is like my second home so I’m glad that the Penang restaurant community is supporting each other. I believe it will be better and have even more to offer in the future.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
I will be thinking about new, interesting and comfort dishes that we can serve at Gén Communal Table and continuing to improve myself every day.
Find more chef interviews, such as this one with Kevin Ng, here.
And, find our recommendations for gourmet travel in Penang here.