An executive chef, have a passion for cooking and guess how young he is? 24-years-old. Yes, you saw that right. Justin Christopher Yap has worked his way up into the hierarchical of a cooking status. Growing up from a family that cooks a lot at home, it sparked his curiosity at a very young age to join in the bandwagon and make a name for himself.
Tell us how your profession as a chef began?
My family cooks really well home-cook comfort food especially my mother and my grandmother. Seeing them cook from something raw to a delicious meal sparked my curiosity. It drove me to explore on what can I do with a particular ingredient and technique I can learn to create a wonderful and stunning dish to put it into the plate. Plus, now I’m looking to incorporate the essence of science and technology into a dish.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
This happened when I was working in my first restaurant at the age of 15 years old. I was working as a chef in a fine dining Japanese restaurant. To be doing something that I really love and getting paid for it was like a dream come true. However, I don’t want to just be a chef in the operational section but also to write reviews. What ignited the flame in my passion for cooking is how I can create dishes and cater to suit the palette of many people.
How do you ensure the quality of the food going out to the customers?
For me, the final stages in serving to a customer is the plating station. That is where I take my work and food for the customers seriously. Everything that goes on that plating station I will have to taste it and it’s not a small portion because you can’t really taste the flavour if you only take a tiny scoop of the dish. When people ask me if I have eaten, oh trust me! I definitely have eaten plenty.
Describe your usual role in a team-centered work environment?
I’m mainly the quality control person and also more of the disciplinary person when it comes to handling the employees. For me, if there is no working drive from someone, everyone is going to do their work at their own pace and not motivated in their job. If you don’t oversee and supervise their work, they’ll keep making the same mistakes without learning and coming to work on time.
Have there been a difficult situation in your work and how did you handle it?
When it comes to handling a big corporation, a disciplinary action doesn’t mean we yell at them. It’s the modern day of discipline. Hence, there’s a corrective action department also headed by me. What happens in this department is if the kitchen staff makes a minor mistake more than three times, we will send them to counselling instead of yelling at them. We will tell them about their mistakes and how they can improve and learn from their blunder. To prevent future misguidance, I list down all the possible mistakes that could happen in the restaurant and set a barcode to it. The kitchen staff will have to scan if they have made any of the mistakes.
What is the food speciality that you make?
I started off in Japanese cuisine but lately, I’ve been experimenting with every single food there is. I studied Food, Science, and Technology major and not culinary. I was at a stage where I was curious to learn and know everything about food. I even did a short certificate major in Pastry at Le Gordon Bleu then I did my diploma at a local university in Taylor’s. After I graduated, since I have my diploma now with me, I want to study more in depth of the food I make relating to science. For example, how bacteria works, marination and how simple BBQ works. Plus, I did my degree in New York too, a food capital area.
Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
I would want to be my better self and not compare to others. However, the chef that really guides me and makes me want to be a better cook would have to be my mother. She was the one who constantly reminds me that when you cook for someone, make sure you do it with love. Similarly, when you cook for your loved one, you ensure you wash the ingredients thoroughly and making sure flavour are balanced. If you can translate that to your customers, that is amazing on its own.
What type of food do you love to make? Why?
I love making and eating dim-sum. At the end of the day, that is my comfort food. It has a variety of choices and flavours and that goes back to my Chinese roots too.
What’s are the upcoming trends of food you wish to make?
My next move is to make Malaysia more sustainable in itself. This means we exchange and import our own ingredients locally. Majority of people are not proud of our homegrown ingredients and people always be buying imported stuff. Right here, mostly everything is locally based and I can’t stress how much I love our local ingredients. We need to pay respect to our local ingredients because the more we do that, the more bias we sell it to our locals and we will be in demand on the market. We keep selling our best grade to foreign lands and in return, we are not getting the ingredients we deserve.
Living the Dream This video represents young passionate chefs doing what they love. Every chef faces his own problems but once they step into the kitchen..all worries are gone. Thank you all who have journeyed with me and made me a stronger person. Share this video to show others that we as chefs are passionate about your food. Stay tuned for the full video ~ #chef #boys #man #modernistcuisine #forwardfood #foodwithin #yum #delicious #foodie #foodporn #love #passion #life #cheflife #bro #need #possible #dreams #journey #cooktochef #vision #future #malaysia #eatdrinkkl #timeoutkl #burplekl #eatnowkl #seductive
Advice for other chefs out there?
If you really love something, never ever stop. Unfortunately, most chefs that I know and graduated with have quit their passion. If you persist and for every time you’re in the kitchen, give it your 100 per cent of effort and quality time. Plus, you need to be smart. If a chef asks me to prepare a certain dish, I will give him double the work and portion. It’s not just about effort also, it’s about putting your mind into the job as well.
Justin Yap is now an Executive Chef in Momentz Music Restaurant, a brand new concept of 15-hour Lifestyle Entertainment Music Restaurant and Bar. To dine, drink or perhaps speak to the man itself, you can visit him here;
Address: LOT 1, I32 Puchong Industrial Park Jalan PPU 2, Taman Perindustrian Pusat Bandar Puchong, Puchong
Instagram of Justin Yap: @justinchrisyap