Chef Willment Leong hopes Asian culinary talents can work together to bring extra shine to the Asian Century

As someone who wears multiple hats as the Founder Chairman of Thailand Culinary Academy, Committee Chairman of World Chefs Without Borders, Vice President of Thailand Chefs Association and a WACS approved judge, Chef Willment Leong is a tireless champion in the development of young culinary talents.

Having devoted seven years to the non-profit organisation of Thailand Culinary Academy which develops young chefs’ culinary skills through education and competition, Chef Willment firmly believes “the Asian Century would be more impactful if us Asians can work together to promote Asia’s talents as a whole to the entire world.”

In view of the growing influence of Asian economic powers like China and India, and fast developing ones like IndoChina, he admits the chef fraternity is discovering cross-boundary cuisines, new ingredients and different cooking methods. “Adapting new things is not wrong but I always remind young chefs to remember their own culinary roots. Although China, India and Indochina have strong cuisine heritage, they need international culinary knowledge. It would be mutually beneficial for us to share our global knowledge with them in return for us to learn more about their rich cuisine and cultural heritage.”

Chef Willment continues, “My fear is those chefs are so anxious to show the world what they have, they sometimes push themselves too hard and may forget their fundamental roots in the process.

For instance, many mainland Chinese chefs have started to change their traditional cuisine by adding foreign flavours, ingredients and cooking methods just to show others they can do it but without fully understanding the rationale. This is where the international chefs’ community can share the knowledge their Chinese peers lack through education and supporting each other through various events. “