Category Archives: Vol 40

Cooking His Way to the Top

Martin Yan
International Celebrity Chef

“As an Asian, I feel that I have a responsibility to promote Asia and to inspire young Asians all in the spirit of ‘Yan Can Cook’.”

Many years before the term “celebrity chef” were coined, there is one familiar chef who appeared on TV regularly sharing easy to follow recipes. Chef extraordinaire Martin Yan of “Yan Can Cook” is almost a household name due to his successful series that had spanned decades. Here, the chef shares his success story with ez and talks about the challenges he faced before receiving international acclaim.

He first started by helping a friend in a restaurant in Canada located near the TV station and one day, he was asked to fill in for a chef that didn’t turn up for one of the TV shows. That was Yan’s big break in TV and a few years after that fateful day in 1978, PBS debut “Yan Can Cook” with Yan as the host. The rest, as we say, is television history as Yan went on to become a phenomenal success and today, he has more than 3,000 episodes of “Yan Can Cook” under his belt.

The series was such a success that Yan became a well-known celebrity chef the world over and currently, he also hosts the “Martin Yan – Quick & Easy” series. However, easy as it seemed, Yan admitted it was a tough road to travel before he reached such success.”I came from a very poor family and my mother sent me off to study in Hong Kong at the age of 12 but the one thing my mother told me, that I will always remember, is to always be humble,” he said.

Yan may have travelled around the world and have rubbed shoulders with other celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain but he is determined to keep his feet strongly planted on the ground. “There is this Cantonese saying “people are afraid of becoming too famous and pigs are afraid of becoming too fat” so I always tell people that there are so many great chefs out there who are much better than me,” he said. His down-to-earth demeanour and humbleness has earned him many close friendships and almost guaranteed his continued popularity as a celebrity chef.

Yan took a trip to Malaysia for his upcoming travel and food programme “Taste of Malaysia” recently. The China-born Hong Kong-American said he visited all the states in Malaysia to showcase not only the food but also the places of interest.”I am proud to be an “ambassador” for Malaysia to showcase its wonderful food and its beautiful destinations,” he said. On the 26-episode programme, Yan said it will place more emphasis on traditional fare of the Asian culture and how it has evolved over time.

“Taste of Malaysia”, which will be aired on NTV7, 8TV and Asia Food Channel (AFC) in Malaysia, is expected to reach a wide audience of up to three billion people worldwide when it is aired in September. “As an Asian, I feel that I have a responsibility to promote Asia and to inspire young Asians all in the spirit of ‘Yan Can Cook’,” he said. The upcoming series is more than a cooking show but a promotion of local flavours, heritage, culture and arts, Yan said.

Yan has not been to Malaysia for over 18 years until middle of this year and he finds that the country has much to offer in terms of variety of food, culture and traditions. “Malaysia is different from other countries I’ve been because it has diversity due to its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society,” he said. Yan visited Penang for five days, documenting the local hawker fare before he went on to other states in the country.

When asked if he will consider retiring soon, Yan said his “work” is not done and it will never be done. “What I’m doing now is not a job but a passion and there’s no retiring from my passion in life,” he said. The 67-year-old added that he has friends in their 80s and 90s who are still cooking so there’s no reason for him to stop cooking and hosting his cooking, food and travel shows.

After Malaysia, Yan will continue his work as an international food ambassador by visiting more countries to showcase their food while at the same time sharing his passion for food and Chinese cooking.

Martine Yan2

Standing the Test of Time

Austen Wong & Kevin Wong

Director & Asst. to Director of Woo Hing Brothers Watch Merchant (PENANG) Sdn. Bhd.

by Jeremy Tan

EVOLVING over the years but staying true to its core expertise, Woo Hing Brothers Penang has forged a truly timeless reputation as a choice purveyor of quality timepieces in the heart of George Town.

First established in 1950 along Campbell Street, one of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city’s oldest commercial precincts, the family business is now in its fourth generation and attracts a loyal yet discerning clientele.

Austen Wong, who now runs the company as director, has been at the helm since 1978. Son Kevin came aboard a year ago, and together, they constantly explore new business avenues and tap into different markets to keep the success going.

According to the elder Wong, the name Woo Hing Brothers has a long heritage in the Malaysian watch-retailing scene. It all started in the early 1920s when his grandfather started a small shop in Johor amidst the booming luxury import industry.

An unfortunate fire accident saw the business relocated to Singapore by the 1930s, which significantly broadened its client base. Two decades later, his father Wong Siong Toon, along with three brothers and a sister, were running the business and capitalised on an expansion opportunity in Penang. The rest was history.

“Our business was primarily wholesale at first, but eventually focused on importing a range of low to high end luxury watches, purpose-built stopwatches and fine writing instruments.”

“We retailed for many Swiss-made watch brands and had the fun experience of selling and tuning imported, ornate grandfather clocks from Germany and Italy.”

“Over the decades there was a gradual transformation of the business and in 2008 were-invented ourselves as a boutique for two of the world’s most coveted luxury watch brands, Rolex and Tudor.”

“This showroom has been our base since day one, even before Malaysia gained her independence. The building, built much earlier, survived the Japanese occupation and has seen at least three renovations. We will continue to build on these foundations well into the future,” Austen says.

When he first took over, Campbell Street was full of family-run retail and wholesale businesses, dealing in medicine, jewellery, textiles, footwear, general merchandise, watches and more. While some of those still remain today, many have since been replaced by cafes and boutique hotels as the lifestyles of Penangites become increasingly sophisticated.

“Concentrating on our primary expertise has been key to our longevity. Diversifying never felt the right tactic. We know what we do best and stick to it”

-Austen Wong

Kevin, who ‘grew up’ surrounded by clocks and their chimes, is delighted to return to his roots and carry on the family legacy. He left for Melbourne, Australia, for studies a decade ago, and subsequently worked in human resources before deciding to take up the mantle here.

“When you’re overseas, you begin to appreciate things you have at home more, and not many have the option of a family business to be involved in. With it being successful for three generations already, you wonder what else you can contribute.

“While I’ve been around clocks and watches all my life, since I entered the business, I’ve developed a deeper passion in their intricacies. Quality timepieces are well crafted works of art that not only help you tell the time, but also reflect your personality.

“Some enjoy the finer things in life and are able to do so, and we take pride in catering to their needs,” notes Kevin, now 28.

“Our lives revolve around meaningful activities – ranging from leisure to family and work. One thing constant across all those is time, and watches remind us of the precious moments we spend on them.”

– Kevin Wong

Though larger watch outlets and chains are prevalent across shopping centres nowadays, he finds the more personalised experience accorded to customers that comes with being a standalone entity, highly rewarding.

“We seek to build long-term relationships with our clientele. We are able to engage with them personally, address their points of view, and help them make the right choices. Most importantly, they walk away happy.

“Even if they do not purchase anything during their visit, we try to ensure they leave getting something, even if it is as simple as a better understanding or appreciation of their favourite timepieces,” Kevin adds.

Woo Hing Brothers Penang’s offerings encompass a vast range of the two brands’ luxury pieces, and cater to various preferences.

Visit their boutique at No. 96 Campbell Street, George Town, 10100 Penang, Malaysia, anytime between 10.30am and 6.30pm from Monday to Saturday (closed on Sundays and Public Holidays). For more information, you may call 04-2615287.

Head over Heels

Dr. Ryan Cheong & Stefanie Chua
BSc(Hons) MBBS(Imperial) AICSM & Professional Model

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to measure a woman’s worth. Sometimes, a surgeon operates just as well in such an instance. Deborah Joy Peter learns how one physician and beauty queen become joined at the hip to celebrate a love that is more than merely skin-deep. 

While a proud son of the famed Pearl of the Orient, 2005 saw Penang native Ryan Cheong leave an entire childhood behind, only to exit his home country in pursuit of what was to become a vastly decorated career in the field of professional medicine. Bound for the United Kingdom, the then healthcare novice, with his sights set on England, travelled westward to kick-start the next chapter of his existence and has since spent the past decade building a career dedicated to treating the ailed.

As well as being the first ever Malaysian elected president of Imperial College London’s Surgical Society, the two-time Royal Society of Medicine (London) national award recipient was once even sponsored by British Petroleum to participate in an expedition to Antarctica to hold forums centred round climate change and sustainability. In addition to the above, Cheong has also in the past spoken at multiple internationally-held medical conferences, covering territories such as Milan, Hawaii, London and across the UK.

His steady string of vocational exploits aside, at the time of his arrival in his brand new surroundings, little did the licensed healer realise that five years into the journey, life would take an unanticipated turn to unveil the pleasant surprise which fate had in store. In 2010, during a scheduled visit to Malaysia to reconnect with family, the practising surgeon, through an introduction by a mutual friend, became acquainted with a feminine sensation with legs that stretched all the way to China and quickly succumbed to her lady-like charms.

By then, Stefanie Chua, a pageantry enthusiast turned high-fashion model, was already a personality positioned at the top of her trade. “I started off by joining beauty pageants at the national level and soon after hit the international stage. My career took off after I won a title at the 2009 Miss World Malaysia installation,” she tells Essenze. Geographically-speaking, her choice of profession serves as an opportunity of a lifetime and has thus far taken the luscious lass to Istanbul, Bali, Ghana, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Interestingly, the booming beauty takes after her mother-in-law, Erlinna Tan, who herself was an unforgettable presence in the modelling industry back in the day. Therefore, it made absolute sense when Cheong and Chua went from being good friends to an item; an exclusive courtship that lasted five years before wedding bells rang for the two. A union celebrated in celestial affair at Penang’s Eastern & Oriental Hotel, the newlyweds enjoyed an evening that interwove accents of classical Rome with that of ancient Italy.

Admittedly, Cheong has constantly felt drawn to the workings of the human body. “As a kid, I always ended up in the anatomy section during library excursions. The pursuit of knowledge and skill combined, I find, pierce the veil between life and death and therefore, its theory and practical applications are something I am only too glad to lend my passion to,” he shares. Only now, the husband-and-wife team has taken the said fascination a step further by venturing into parenthood.

Together, they have a teeny tot named Reia; the firstborn daughter who remains a precious marker of the couple’s matrimonial bliss, while trust, tolerance, and gratitude continue to serve as pillars of fortitude within their cheery home. On the matter of family, the new mum finds solace in the embrace of familial support. “Living abroad and being far away from home is a challenge. Mother would fly to London for months at the time when our child was first born to take care of her and that made a significant difference.”

Today, the tenacious threesome have built a life for themselves in London, where the bustling careers and homey household of the good doctor and his mesmerising missus continue to thrive. Busy or not, both individuals remain true to each other as two halves make a whole. Their secret? “We love trying new cuisines and catching up on the latest movies and musicals. We also enjoy exploring the world together and have so far explored Santorini, Rome, Paris, Windermere, Hawaii and Zermatt as a twosome,” Chua offers.

Being a doctor calls for an entire career of learning and developing. A key feat for me was being pitted against the best and brightest of the British healthcare population at every level of progression. It’s been a challenging yet formative experience.”– Ryan Cheong

“As a model, one has the opportunity to embody various brands and we often become the first image the public associated with. There is a lot of hard work involved. Yet, the creative process and success that originates from every effort makes it worth it.” – Stefanie Chua

2015 Bugatti Gangloff

The latest 2015 Bugatti Gangloff is a dream automobile for those with fine taste and money. This extraordinary creation comes with a concept featuring the interior and exterior detail design that becomes the strength of this luxurious car. Information about this car is very limited where detail of the release date and price are yet to be announced. However it might take another year or two for one’s dream to come true.

Photo Courtesy of



Autumn/Winter 2015-16


Gucci’s Autumn/Winter collection for 2015-16 – Ready-To-Wear – celebrates untimely details and quintessential interferences. The show was in the details – the loafers, the bags, the floral prints – and going back to that original idea of Gucci luxury and heritage pieces.

Everything about this collection was soft, youthful and had a sense of freedom. There was also a distinct aristo-Englishness to it, something a little eccentric and ambiguous.


For the 3rd year in a row, Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready To Wear (RTW) presented an exciting mix of designers where more than 80 of the talented showcased their never-seen-before ‘”Runway Collection”. Founder of KL Fashion Week Andrew Tan was proud to acknowledge that this event has grown from strength to strength while receiving very good response from both local and international levels. This is highly anticipated 5-day-event was made possible with the support of sponsors including Tourism Malaysia, Air Asia, BSN, HUAWEI and many others.

Simply Eclectic

by CHT

Interior designer house Splendid Interior Décor’s distinctive signature is found in many luxurious apartments in Penang. Ranging from the elegant and minimalistic to the richly decorated and unusual are some of the styles that were conceived through its creativity and experience. Splendid’s latest penthouse project definitely provides an insight to its creativity when it comes to finding the perfect blend where East meets West.

Anyone visiting this penthouse will have the first impression of …’it’s going to be another Chinese design’ before knocking on the old yet solid pair of Chinese doors. Upon entering, one will definitely be convinced that the feeling of it will be a typical Chinese designed penthouse when greeted by a pair of Ming style chairs. However the confidence will be distracted with an unexpected but impressive vertical greenery along the hallway dividing the entrance and the dining areas where it is guarded by a red terracotta soldier.

The 19th century Chinese intricately gold gilded wood carving Chinese antique bed is an amazing piece and adding to its beauty is the owner’s antique Oriental musical collection within. Not only the living area is perfect but surprisingly this penthouse has a kitchen that fits a Master Chef where class and brands are not compromised. A magnificent place for fine dining especially with a streams of sunlight and the breeze that sweeps through the rooms.

Another very interesting sight is the unique island-shaped table in the dry kitchen. Meanwhile, the simple yet fashionable blue tiled top in the balcony can easily captivate the attention of guests. It is not an overstatement that guests could be invited to dinner for a week and be seated on different tables!

In short, this penthouse has a luxurious taste of both East and West.

For further information, email



20th Anniversary Celebration of Maison&Objet

Images courtesy of MAISON&OBJET

MAISON&OBJET is the major event for professionals working in the art of living in all its rich and varied expressions.

For 20 years this large lifestyle platform, at the crossroads of business and creativity, provides solutions that meet the needs of visitors from around the world.  It is also the key meeting place for professionals in the art of living which brings together a 360° offer that is in line with the diverse needs of global markets.

The lifestyle show also brings together a 360°product offering such as decoration, design, furniture, accessories, textiles, fragrances, the world of children, tableware… The styles coexist in a multifaceted way, throughout the inventive show design which enlivens the spaces. This extraordinary diversity is in line with the varied expectations of global markets. With each session, the great lifestyle platform, at the intersection of business and creativity, reveals solutions to visitors from around the world in search of uniqueness.

It is the multi-multicultural crossroads of contemporary living. Places for meetings and exchanges, our shows welcome exhibitors and visitors from around the world and showcase a high-quality international offer. They provide a comprehensive overview of the excellence and innovation that help to share the best of creativity. It is continuing on with its successful international dynamic and opening up to new horizons. The MAISON&OBJET philosophy and exceptional expertise are now being exported through the creation of two international shows, which should increase opportunities near markets with high growth potential: MAISON&OBJET ASIA and MAISON&OBJET AMERICAS, two annual meetings promising good growth.

It decodes emerging signs of creativity, its Observatoire de la Maison identifies compelling, new innovative ideas. Each year, the show celebrates the Designers of the Year and Talents à la Carte. An inspired talent detector, it picks out emerging talents and celebrates the values of style. Through its lecture series on major themes explored by international experts, MAISON&OBJET provides a source of exclusive and forward-looking information to help understand and foresee market trends.

Maison & Ojet1

Impressive Food, Excellent Service at Maple Palace

Choosing a place to dine in comfort, whether for leisure or business, can sometimes be a hassle but for Senior Agency Manager Chan Chee Hin, his place of choice is obvious. He loves the bold exciting flavours coupled with excellent service at Maple Palace restaurant and would not hesitate to go back to the restaurant for any dinner events be it a family dinner or a business dinner.

“I am usually here with my colleagues because of the quality of food, service and easy parking and they have a very pleasant environment that makes it easy for us to talk about business or leisure,” he said. One of his favourite dishes at the restaurant is their simple yet flavourful steamed fish in soy sauce. “It may be a simple dish but it is delicious and full of flavours due to their quality and fresh ingredients used in preparing it,” he added.

Chan is not the only person to find Maple Palace the perfect place for a satisfying and delicious meal as Datin Seri Joanna Lim also constantly dines there. The socialite especially likes the desserts served there, particularly the sesame glutinous rice balls and chilled mango sago with pomelo.

“I love going there for my meals because of their wonderful ambiance and very efficient service,” she said. She also highly recommends the restaurant’s signature dish, an aromatic fish steamboat with soup so flavourful, it is delicious on its own. She commended the restaurant for its wide array of delicious food while pointing out that all the food prepared does not contain MSG.

Maple Palace has ample parking space for patrons and it has a seating capacity of 320 persons so it is also the perfect venue for society weddings, milestone celebrations as well as regular family gatherings.

Dato’ Wira Louis Ng, who is another regular customer at Maple Palace, could never get enough of the restaurant’s traditional crispy Peking duck which is one of the best he’s ever eaten. “I often order their steamed pumpkin with assorted seafood casserole and their Mini Buddha Jump Over The Wall too as these two dishes are my favourites,” he said.

He thinks the restaurant provides not only good service but affordably priced food in a pleasant environment.

“This is a great restaurant for dinners,” he said.

For more information or to make reservations,
please call +604 227 9690 / +604 227 4542
or visit

Maple Palace 22