Chef Justin Kam, a Malaysian Chinese was born and raised in Georgetown, Penang. With over 30 years of experience as a professional chef, he spent a decade as an Executive Chef in renowned 5-star international chain hotels, including Marriott International Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels, IHG Brand, Hotel Mulia, Pan Pacific, and Equatorial. Currently, he holds the position of Executive Chef at Le Meridien Jakarta. Justin has worked in various countries such as China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, gaining exposure to a diverse range of international cuisines through his multi-skilled approach. His aspiration is to cultivate his integrity and culinary skills, leveraging his talents to contribute to cross-cultural and sustainable cuisines. Justin seeks to expand his knowledge of food products and enhance his creative cooking skills, encompassing a keen sense of food taste, menu creation and the design setup of kitchen and restaurant concepts.
Believing in his ability to impart skills and knowledge, Justin aims to mentor and develop the younger generation of chefs. He strives to build successful teams by guiding them in multitasking and endeavors to establish a culinary reputation in town. Justin specializes in Contemporary European; Lebanese Mediterranean, fine dining steak grills, Chinese cuisine, and Southeast Asian and Malaysian cuisines. His notable achievements include winning the Gold Medal in the FHM Culinaire 2009 Malaysia, the Nyonya Heritage Live Team Challenge category in 2009, and the Baba’s Curry Powder Creative 1001 Ingredients Live Cooking Competition in 2006. Additionally, he secured the Gold Medal in the Electrolux Star Chef Live Cooking Competition in 1998. Throughout his career, Justin has had the privilege of serving high-profile guests and organizing delegation events, including hosting the ASEAN Summit Ambassador lunch in September 2023 and successfully managing events for the Korean President Mr. Moon Jae- in in March 2019, the Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping in October 2016, and the Chengdu Fortune Global Forum 2013 in Shangri-La Hotel Chengdu.
Despite his commendable skills, Justin remains humble and continues to interact with his guests for their feedback, stating, “The diners are my inspiration for creating better recipes.”
Do you have a favorite time of the year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
Christmas is my preferred time of the year. As for ingredients, my choice depends on the type of cuisine selected, but I generally favor locally grown fresh products to enhance the aroma.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
Given my profound interest in food, if I weren’t a chef, I would likely pursue a career as a food nutritionist or a food blogger.
Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?
Certainly, my personal preferences do influence the menu. For instance, during Christmas, I gravitate towards traditional favorites like Christmas Stollen bread and English Fruit Cake, as they are consumed annually and add to the spirit of the season.
What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?
The trend that I find to be most over-hyped currently is healthy super food with a plant base.
When are you happiest?
I find my greatest joy when guests appreciate and genuinely enjoy my culinary creations.
When you’re not in the kitchen, where can you be found?
During my leisure time you’ll likely find me at the gym, as working out is where I unwind. On workdays, if not in the kitchen, I am probably doing rounds at the outlets.
Where is your favorite place to dine?
While I don’t have a specific favorite place, I am naturally curious and adventurous, enjoying exploring new places and cuisines.
What’s your favorite takeaway or comfort food?
My go-to comfort food is Poached Hainan Chicken with Beansprouts.
What makes the local food scene so exciting?
The local produce, ripened on the farm before being harvested and delivered, contributes to the excitement of the local food scene. This fresh, flavorful, and nutritious food is a result of my Peranakan descent grandmother’s influence, who trained me from a young age in the art of food preparation using the freshest ingredients.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
The Texas Barbeque Wagyu Chuck Rib holds a special place in my heart. I had the honor of preparing it for the South Korean President, Mr. Moon Jae-in, in March 2019.
You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?
A set menu featuring my signature dishes from appetizer to dessert would be presented for my friends.
Name your favorite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.
The Kingdom of Thailand, Saigon, and the Pearl of the Orient are my top choices, boasting a perfect blend of food, culture, and nightlife.
Can you tell us more about the cuisine at your restaurants?
Our restaurants offer a diverse range of international cuisines, including Western, Indian, Nusantara, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Lebanese, and pastry.
here’s a recipe for my signature Penang Curry Laksa.
Penang Curry Laksa
Making Curry Laksa Paste
- 1-liter Cooking oil or olive oil
- 150 gm Shallot
- 80 gm Lemongrass
- 75 gm Garlic
- 20 gm Galangal
- 40 gm Penang Shrimp Paste
- 5 pods Green cardamom
- 200 gm Dried Chili
- 50 gm Fresh Chilies
- 200 gm Chili Powder (Baba’s Brand)
- 22 gm Cumin Powder (Baba’s Brand)
- 30 gm Fennel Powder (Baba’s Brand)
- 30 gm Coriander Powder (Baba’s Brand)
- 18 gm Salt
- 40 gm Sugar
- 15 gm White pepper powder
- Toast the shrimp paste till it aroma, soak the dried chilies and boil till it soft, finely grinding the fresh ingredient.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the dried ground spices and cook until fragrant. Stir through add the seasoning
- 2-liter Chicken Stock
- 200ml Coconut milk
- 1canned Evaporated milk
- 120gm Rock sugar
- 5knotted Pandan leaves
- 2stalks Lemongrass
- 40 gm Salt
- 150 gm Curry laksa paste
- Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium low heat. sauté for 20 seconds, then add lemongrass.
- Add laksa paste. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until fragrant.
- Add chicken stock, coconut milk, evaporated milk and 2 tsp of Laksa paste. Place lid on and simmer on for 10 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste. Add tofu puffs. Leave on turned off stove with lid on for 5 minutes
Condiment to be serve
- Hokkien noodle
- Rice Vermicelli noodle
- Bean sprout
- Boiled shrimp shelled off
- Boiled chicken meat shredded
- Boiled Cockle meat shelled off
- Fish cake thin sliced
- Tofu puff- one pieces cut into four
- Hard-boiled egg
- Mint leaf
- Curry Laksa paste- serving according as your needed
- To prepare blanching the Hokkien noodles mixed with rice vermicelli and beansprout.
- Top with, shrimp, shredded chicken, fish cake, cockle, tofu puff
- Pour the Laksa broth. Top with beansprouts. Sprinkle with Garnishes you choose to use. Serve with Laksa Chilli Sauce on the side.