Chef Wan: Banning foreign cooks is racist

Celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail slammed today the government’s proposal to ban foreign cooks in restaurants. ― Picture by KE Ooi
Celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail slammed today the government’s proposal to ban foreign cooks in restaurants. ― Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail slammed today the government’s proposal to ban foreign cooks in restaurants.

Redzuawan, better known as Chef Wan, pointed out that he himself used to work in Paris, San Francisco, Vancouver, Honolulu and Sydney in his early career before returning home to Malaysia.

“I find this new ruling to be racist,” Chef Wan posted on Instagram.

“So my question to the minister why is it diff suddenly other immigrants in this country cannot cook Malaysian food simply because they are not Malaysian? Why do we need to discriminate them?

‘Negara lain tak pulak treat other races mcm 2nd class citizen’,” he said.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran reportedly said today that the government was merely suggesting the ban on foreign cooks that he previously said would take effect on January 1 next year.

He said the proposed ban only applied to “ordinary local food” outlets, not to restaurants serving foreign food, high-end restaurants, or five-star hotels that required specialised cooks.

Chef Wan cited today a food festival in Dubai where he enjoyed Malaysian dishes like chicken rendang, Penang char kway teow and ayam masak merah that were cooked by Bangladeshi and Pakistani assistant chefs.

Chef Wan said they told him that they had worked in Genting and Penang for several years and learned to make those dishes.

“Am so proud to see them despite not being Malaysian have promoted our Malaysian cuisine so well. Sedap pulak too. U see food always travel across the world for centuries across all culture of the world,” he said.

In 2014, the Penang government introduced a new rule that forbid 10 state iconic dishes like char koay teow, Penang laksa, Hokkien mee, nasi kandar and curry mee, sold by street hawkers from being prepared by foreign workers to protect the cultural palate.

Chef Wan pointed out that there were many great Malaysian chefs who could cook French, Italian and Japanese cuisine here or abroad.

“E.g Chef Darren Chin from his signature DC restaurant. Mind u some French Chefs cant even cook their French cuisine as good as him pun ada,” he said.

He also complained that culinary schools these days produced poor-quality chefs and said there were far too many hotels in the country with low occupancy rates.

“Gelak saya baca konon nak ganti kan all these Immigrants cooks with Malaysian cooks! Cuba la pi cari jika tak nak melihat all this hospitality business will collapsed totally!” he said.

The chef further said many Malays were not interested in jobs like assistant cooks and had bad work attitudes like absenteeism, laziness, and dirty habits.

“Even the restaurant associations have commented about how difficult it is to find Malaysians who are interested to become cooks these days.

“Not everyone has the bloody passion to slave in a kitchen for 12 hours a day like i do ok !” he said.

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