Photo: kwen.liew/Facebook

A young, history-making F&B star, Kwen Liew gained top experience in Singapore, Australia and France before setting up the Pertinence fine-dining restaurant in Paris, and becoming ranked among the finest chefs in the world

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Kwen Liew is the chef and co-founder of the intimate Paris fine-dining restaurant, Pertinence, and the first Malaysian to become a Michelin-starred chef. Born and raised in Malaysia, Liew got into the culinary world after high school when a friend introduced her to famed school Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. After two semesters in Sydney, she transferred to its Bangkok campus and later went on to do a pastry course at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie in France, with a vision of eventually owning her own restaurant.

After interning at Antoine in Paris, where she first met her future husband and Pertinence co-founder Ryunosuke Naito, Liew re-located to Singapore to serve at Le Saint Julien. She later returned to Paris to be with Naito, and worked at Bistrôt Alexander III, a boat restaurant serving tapas and sharing plates on the River Seine. But the couple wanted to do more than just cook, and to use their classical French training to develop dishes that are fresh and transformative. So, in 2017, Liew and Naito founded Pertinence.

Less than a year later, they were awarded the coveted Michelin star, hailed for serving classical French cuisine cooked with unconventional Japanese techniques. Besides being the first Malaysian to be honoured in the world-renowned guide, Liew was also, notably, one of only two women chefs to make the list that year, joining the exclusive female club of Michelin-starred chefs worldwide, which comprises less than 5 per cent of all entries.

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One of Liew’s earliest memories of cooking was when, at eight years old, she tried her hand at stir-frying vegetables under the close watch of her mother.  

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