It’s positioned as the first Malay banquet restaurant in Malaysia – and everywhere you look, taste and feel – you’ll see Datuk Chef Wan’s unique DNA emerging
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” So goes the popular saying. Another version of the titular proverb reads along the lines of “Eat your breakfast, share your lunch with your friend, and give your dinner to your enemy.”
However, at De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan – there is no hierarchy when it comes to priority given to food. And, there are certainly no foes – just foodie friends waiting to be discovered – binded together forever by the love of real authentic and delectable Malay cuisine fit for royalty.
“De.Wan is the first Malay banquet restaurant in Malaysia. Those who have dined here include local celebrities, song bird Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza and dignitaries including Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. In fact, his whole family was here including his daughter Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir for the premier couple’s wedding anniversary,”shares De.Wan business partner Andre Shum to Dato’ Redzuawan Ismail or popularly known as the lovable celebrity Chef Wan. He relates this to YES Paper after the successful launch of the new publication announced at De.Wan 1958 at precisely 12pm on 12 December last year.
“This partnership came about as first of all, Chef Wan is a close friend and also a family friend. And, we have a lot of common friends as well. Chef Wan used to come and dine at my other restaurant, Rama V, which serves Thai food – situated just down the street from here on Jalan U-Thant,” says Shum.
“We’ve always toyed with the idea of opening a restaurant together. At the beginning though, Chef Wan said he is too old to be opening a restaurant. But I reassured him I would run the restaurant efficiently. After many persuasions, he agreed to open De.Wan 1958,” shares the seasoned veteran restauranteur Shum who has 20 years of solid experience in the food and beverage industry.
“The concept we wanted was to feature fine Malay food. And, the Malay food concept is from all over Malaysia. We wanted a restaurant that properly represents Malaysia. And, De.Wan 1958 is a presentable restaurant for people to bring foreign guests here,” adds Shum.
Shum and Chef Wan are indeed a formidable force to be reckoned – in an industry known for putting demands on hard work and commitment.
And, it’s no secret that Chef Wan who worked his way up from scratch – having gone to culinary school followed by his stint as chef for 14 years in the US before having his own cooking show – Kuali and travelling overseas to do cooking shows – also intends to build a legacy. Given his big and generous heart – not only as doting father to his two children – actress Serina Redzuawan and celebrity chef (yes – like father, like son) Muhammad Zainudin Redzuawan aka Chef Riz – he also plans to pass his recipes to the younger chefs working under him.
It is apparent that Chef Wan will have nothing but the best for De.Wan as far as his latest pride and joy is concerned. Here, cocooned in high creature comforts is life savoured at a leisurely pace amid a continual feast of fine authentic Malay fare served from day to night. Indeed here – lunches, tea time and dinners takes on a life of their own without any hierarchy.
The celebrity chef has indeed outdone himself again. And the saying that the proof of the pudding is in the pie – can be seen from the rave reviews emitting from literally everyone who has dined at De.Wan. And, while for the irrepressible chef – on the surface of it’s all in a glamorous charismatic magical day at work – supervising the kitchen staff, meeting diners, signing autographs for fans and catching up with the industry at large — the copious years of hard work behind the scenes have certainly added up.
The great culmination reveals itself in a mastery display of dishes that are authentic and mouth-watering – cooked from the flames of passion bequeath with experience and only using the very finest and freshest of ingredients.
Chef Wan reminisces on Mukhriz relating how Tun Dr Mahathir loved every dish, – quoting him as saying, “My father cannot stop praising the food!” So much so, that someone from the Prime Minister’s Department requested for Chef Wan to cook for the president of Indonesia the very next day when he had an audience with Tun Dr Mahathir in Putrajaya.
He chuckles at the opportunity of being given the chance to serve these two leaders in a succession of two days. This delicious claim to fame can be validated by guests at YES Paper’s inaugural luncheon launch who also gave their heartiest compliments to the chef.
But, behind all the glitter is tonnes of hard work and persistence as both will readily testify. Chef Wan bequeath, with his hearty sense of humour is known to have likened the state of De.Wan’s kitchen to “Hell’s Kitchen” – proclaiming his hellish endeavours would put Gordon Ramsey to shame – having fired seven chefs during his initial De.Wan training session alone.
No design detail was left to chance either – with the interior design overseen by an international design firm from Singapore by the name of Genius Loci which is headed by Benjamin Kim.
“We designed this restaurant based on Chef Wan’s life. Basically, there’s Chinese artefacts as the restaurant is about him and he is of part Chinese parentage,” relates Shum.
Chef Wan’s late father- formerly a military man with a heart of gold was Malay. His life lesson to Chef Wan was to be kind while his mother who is Chinese, taught him how to cook – hence, the Peranakan background. The infusion of tropical elements as apparent in the design and pop ups of plants and ferns were added to reflect Chef Wan’s love for gardening.
To savour a slice of paradise at De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan style or to book a space for your upcoming function, log on to www.dewan.space