Avatar photo

Compiled by Lineo Lesemane

Digital Lifestyle Journalist

Q&A with South African chef making waves in Vietnam

"You reap what your sow. Whatever effort you put in, is what you will get out."

37-year-old chef Chang Sheng “Peter” Ye grew up in Gqeberha, but his passion for food has taken him on a culinary and hospitality adventure on the other side of the world.

Chang, who has a diploma in Hospitality Management, told The Citizen he became interested in food when watching television shows such as Hell’s Kitchen.

“I realised it was what I wanted to do with my life and that it would give me greater opportunities so I asked the Radisson if they would sponsor me to study part-time at Capsicum Culinary Studio.

“Thankfully they agreed and I graduated in 2011 with a Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking from the school’s Nelson Bay campus,” he said.

ALSO READ: McDonald’s plans to test a new restaurant concept

Moving to Johannesburg and then Vietnam

After graduating, Chef Chang moved to Johannesburg and worked for several establishments, including Emperors Palace, the InterContinental OR Tambo, and the Hilton Sandton Hotel.

He eagerly put his skills to the test and entered competitions such as the Unilever Chef of the Year, placing in the Top 5 in Africa.

In 2016, he got an opportunity to work abroad, and became the Executive Chef for the five-star Mia Resort Nha Trang in Vietnam and continued to climb the culinary and hospitality ladder.

This year, as resort manager, he opened a new property called The Anam Mui Ne, a luxury resort and part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The Anam Mui Ne is the only hotel in Vietnam to be included in this high-end, boutique hotel group.

His advice to those wanting to work in the hospitality and culinary industries is to work hard and be prepared to work long hours.

“You reap what your sow. Whatever effort you put in, is what you will get out. Be prepared for long hours, forgetting to eat lunch or even going to the bathroom. Public holidays and weekends are non-existent.

“You are only as strong as your team. Put in extra time before or after your actual shift to be ahead of your colleagues and help in different sections. All this will benefit you in the end,” he said.

A quick Q&A with Chef Chang

Name five things always in your fridge or pantry:
Sparkling water, wine, eggs, mushrooms, and kimchi.

What would be your last meal?
Lobster ravioli with lots of shaved white truffle.

Is there anything you do not eat?
I’m allergic to kiwi fruit.

If you had to cook dinner for five famous people, who would they be, and what would you make them?
Ariana Grande, Elon Musk, Gordon Ramsay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and South Korean singer-songwriter Lee Ji-Eun. I would make a spit roast because it is easy to prepare, and I would have more time to converse with them. It also creates a more relaxing atmosphere.

Favourite celebrity cook?
Gordon Ramsay

What are the three latest food trends?
Local seasonal, organic, and sustainable.

What chefs do you admire most and why?
I admire chefs that start as stewarding/pot washers because they know where they come from and where they want to go. They are usually persistent and ambitious in what they want.

How do you rate the South African hospitality industry?
South African hospitality has a lot of opportunities. We have a diverse culture that shows the uniqueness of our heritage and South African friendliness.

NOW READ: Why foods that are good for the planet are also good for your health

Read more on these topics

chef Vietnam