Master chef Chris Chew Sau Ming at his Gossip Kitchen restaurant in Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Terengganu. Pic by NSTP/ADRIAN DAVID.

KUALA TERENGGANU: He had helped prepare over 15 million meals to guests the world over as a cook for the past 13 years.

This includes stints at local restaurants and on board three luxury cruise liners that traversed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Today, master chef Chris Chew Sau Ming is the proud owner of the Gossip Kitchen in Jalan Sultan Ismail since 2010.

It has been a long journey for Chew after he graduated from Kolej Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya 16 years ago.

“After leaving secondary school, I earned a Nanyang Foundation scholarship to study at KDU.

“I remember daring the scholarship interview board to kick me out should I fail any of the six subjects in the first semester.

“I went on to eventually graduate with six straight As,” said Chew, who was quickly grabbed by a prominent restaurant in the Klang Valley.

After a year’s stint, Chew went through three stringent interviews before securing a job on board the Queen Elizabeth II, then the Queen Mary and finally the Queen Victoria cruises.

“I must say that it was one heck of an experience working as a chef on board the cruise liners.

“Life was tough, working near 16-hour gruelling shifts preparing and cooking an assortment of international and continental meals, with minimal offshore time-off and living in tight situations.

“But it was very invaluable and rewarding, as it helped shape me to be dextrous, independent and disciplined towards a successful career in the food and beverage industry,” said Chew.

He added that the five-year exposure on board the vessels gave him the confidence to prepare just about any meal on earth, from Asian and European to fusion dishes.

Owing to family commitments, Chew decided to return home to assist his mother, Leeanne Chua, who runs a nursery and kindergarten.

After a year, he wanted to put to good use his culinary skills and thus, he established the Gossip Kitchen.

“I teamed up with my mum with an initial investment of RM200,000 for the restaurant.

“It was a struggle at first having to face manpower shortage and trained staff being pinched by competitors. But I have managed to settle down pretty well now,” said Chew, whose outlet’s menu offers 70 different meals and 90 beverages and desserts.

These include salads, snacks, continental, grills, baked and steamed fare.

The father of two-year-old twins has now gone a step further to consolidate his business by investing RM20,000 in a portable two-in-one aquaponic nursery to grow vegetables and breed fish at home.

“The backyard aquaponic facility is an intelligent method to recycle fish faeces to feed earthworms to churn out manure for the vegetables.

“The portable system requires minimal space and expenses, and has proven very successful in developed countries,” said Chew.

He grows salad, lettuce, cherry and large tomatoes, egg plants, spinach, pak choy and some root vegetables, alongside jade perch and tilapia fish primarily for his restaurant needs.

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