Cong Wen Tan
“My education has given me the confidence to trust my instincts and common sense, and push myself to be a little rebellious—to not always follow the rules.”
Job Title: Head Chef, Prelude Restaurant and Bar
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
After completing his compulsory National Service in the Singapore military, Cong Wen Tan got a part-time job at a local restaurant and found he enjoyed the camaraderie in the kitchen.
“There is something humble and honest about honing your craft and seeing yourself getting better every day,” recalls Cong, head chef at Prelude Restaurant and Bar in Bangkok. “The Chef at that first restaurant happened to be a lecturer at the CIA, so it really was an instance of meeting the right people, at the right place, at the right time.”
“The CIA helped me understand the fundamentals on which to build my career—the techniques in the kitchen and the business outside the kitchen,” Cong continues. “And the connections I developed at the CIA helped get me my first head chef job at the age of 27.”
“My education has given me the confidence to never follow a recipe blindly but to trust my instincts and common sense and push myself to be a little rebellious, to not always follow the rules. It’s time now to forge my own path,” says Cong. “The important thing is to always continue your education. Travel and work in different areas thereby understanding the eating and drinking culture of the locals. Speak a new language. Use as much local ingredients as possible, and build rapport with farmers and artisans. And always be humble. Show respect to your craft and your produce, even a piece of lettuce.”