Our Distinguished Past Speakers

Freda Liu - Broadcast Journalist, Speaker, Author, Moderator, Adjunct Professor

A powerhouse communicator and connector, Freda Liu is a global speaker, author, broadcast journalist, emcee, moderator and trainer. She believes in the concept of revolving to evolve; a journey she personally embodies and imparts to others through her books and her work. Freda has written six books namely “Life’s a Stage – Stories Of An Empowered Life, “PR Yourself” “Shake & Spear Your Business: The Romeo & Juliet Way,” & “Everybody Loves Ray” (biography), “Bursting Fixed Mindsets” and “In Your Skin.” As a business broadcast journalist, she has conducted close to 10,000 interviews with thought leaders like Simon Sinek, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, Former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, author Stephen Covey, to former GE CEO Jack Welch.

Karen Shepherd - Strategic Director, UCCN Kuching City of Gastronomy

Karen Shepherd is a free-lance copy editor and writer. Her words are portrayed in a variety of themes for corporations, educational organisations, and magazines. The most prominent space where Karen would share her thoughts on stories about Sarawak is on the website ceravasarawak.com. She has built a prior career as an educator, before transitioning to becoming a professional writer in 2013.

Ts. Dr. Irine Runnie Henry Ginjom - Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science,Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus

Ts.Dr. Irine Ginjom is a Senior Lecturer with the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus. She is a certified Professional Technologist in the fields of Biotechnology and Food Technology by the Malaysian Board of Technologist (MBOT). Being a Sarawak native, and through her research and outreach activities, Dr Irine hopes to see wider acceptance and utilization of local Sarawak food ingredients and products among wider consumer communities.

Violet Oon - Writer, Speaker, Content Creaotor, PR Strategy, F&B Consultant, Recipe Development, Violet Oon Consultant

Violet Oon, 73, has been a national and worldwide advocate for Singapore cuisine for the past 50 years. She is a co-owner of the restaurants in the Violet Oon Singapore chain, which highlights and promotes Singaporean cuisine. Besides that, she recently finished an e-book called 50 Views for Sentosa Development Corporation. She is most pleased with this since it marks her second professional literary debut and the second leg of a journey that began in 1971. Likewise, Oon’s contributions to Singaporean cuisine led to her induction into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations in 2016. Additionally, she was honoured with two lifetime achievement awards in 2018—one from the World Gourmet Summit and the other from SPH’s Asian Masters. Moreover, in 2019 the Singapore Tourism Board presented Oon with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism. She re-launched her culinary filmmaking career in 2020 with a series of cooking videos and seminars. However, she suffered a stroke in 2014, and Singapore General Hospital awarded her the title of Inspirational Patient in 2021. Her latest work is where she produced and debuted a LIFE IN FOOD BY VIOLET OON YouTube video series in December 2021 with The Straits Times.

Anabelle Co-Martinent - Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, PHUTURE Foods

Anabelle joins PHUTURE Foods this 2022 as the Chief Marketing Officer, as well as a late stage co-founder of the Malaysian plant-based meat company. She is in charge of growing the brand’s reach across South-East Asia and beyond. Anabelle has always promoted healthy living. Her belief in sustainability and a balanced lifestyle led to her career change this 2022. Prior to joining PHUTURE’s team, Anabelle founded La Juiceria in 2013 (Kuala Lumpur). Previously, as the Founder and Managing Director for the La Juiceria Group, she oversaw the expansion, business development strategies, marketing and operations for La Juiceria Superfoods, Super Saigon and Hawker Hall. Anabelle still runs a restaurant called The Gardens in the Philippines with her family. Before all the food and beverage experience, she carved out her marketing & branding expertise in the technology sphere during her previous stints with leading global brands like Hewlett Packard, Canon and Nokia in her native Philippines, as well as Microsoft in Malaysia, where she has spearheaded numerous ambitious product Launches. Happily married with two kids, Anabelle is a Chinese-Filipino expatriate who calls Kuala Lumpur her home since 2006, having moved from Singapore. She has a double-degree in Marketing Management and Psychology from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines. In her free time, she enjoys cafe-hopping, island travels as well as acrylic painting.

Melissa Lim - Co-founder, Marketing, Langit Collective

Melisa Lim started her career in communications with a major in broadcasting. After being burnt out within a few years, she sought out volunteering opportunities at a local non-profit organisation. This led her to see the parallel worlds in Malaysia where the urban rat race is a long way from the world of subsistence farmers and rural communities. In 2015, she co-founded Langit Collective with 3 partners to improve the livelihoods of rural farmers from East Malaysia by creating market access for their high quality produce. With experience and skills from a strong project management and community organisation, she now focuses on Langit’s marketing, strategy and digital presence.

Logeetha Balakrishnan - New Venture Manager, BoomGrow

Logeetha started her career in project management at a multinational company but quickly found her calling at the intersection of food & sustainable businesses. She made a career leap and grew into the role of Sales Lead at an award-winning social enterprise, PichaEats which works with refugee chefs. As her passion for sustainable food systems grew, she took up a role in BoomGrow, an indoor vertical farm, with the aim to understand the food supply chain better. She is now the New Ventures Manager working toward advancing the mission of sustainable food production and consumption within South East Asia. Given her experience, she comes with a diverse skill set – marketing, sales, project management & business strategy. She’s passionate about everything, food, culture and social impact. She was selected as an Acumen Fellow in 2021 & YSEALI Professional Fellow in 2022, big nods to her commitment to creating change in Malaysia.

Kenneth Chai - Co-founder, Airgro Sdn Bhd

Kenneth co-founded Airgro in 2020 that grows imported produce locally in Malaysia. Airgro specialises in technologies that sustainably grow produce purely from electricity, addressing food and energy security while reducing carbon footprint. Kenneth holds a Master’s degree in Energy from University of Aberdeen, and is an advocate for STEM education in Sarawak through his social enterprise, The Learning Curve.

Anas Amdan - Founder, Bantu Heroes

MUHAMMAD ANAS BIN AMDAN. He hold a Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in Accounting & Finance) from the University of Queensland, Australia. Upon graduating Anas Amdan formed a company Kasi Gegar Entertainment SDN BHD pursuing in career as Music Producer. He has been actively involved in producing, composing and arranging music until today. In 2021, together with a few friends, he founded Bantu Heroes (officially known as Persatuan Bantuan Masyarakat Sabah). Bantu Heroes developed a food aid distribution system known as www.bantuaid.com to help systematically provide food packs to those in need. Today, Bantu Heroes is one of the 4 NGOS in the National Recovery Council Food aim program focusing on helping the national issue food security.Anas is also the owner of Nook Café & People by Nook in Kota Kinabalu

Raine Melissa Reman - Founder, Sarawak Coffee Culture Research Network

Raine is a cultural anthropologist with 12 years’ experience of  community research with universities in Denmark and Australia. Her most recent collaborative research with Swinburne Melbourne focuses on Sarawak’s indigenous community participation in digital media development. She is currently a doctoral student at Swinburne University of Technology. In 2019, she co-organised the first Borneo Coffee Symposium with Earthlings Coffee and Coffee Consulate Germany. She established a  Sarawak Coffee Culture research network with a media theorist, Dr Bertha Chin, in 2019, with a focus on Southeast Asia food politics and production, as well as the role of women in the coffee industry. She was also a panellist in the British Library’s Food Season 2021, and she is currently working on a book engagement for UNESCO’s food heritage programme.

Dr. Anna Sulan Masing - Co-founder of Cheese Magazine

Dr Anna Sulan Masing is a writer, academic and podcaster. She is co-founder of Cheese magazine, and the public research platform Sourced which investigates our global food and drink systems. Anna Sulan’s podcast series, A Taste of Place by Whetstone Radio Collective launches September 2022. Her debut book, Chinese And Other Asian, will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in February 2024.

Datin Dona Drury Wee - Chairman of Culinary Heritage and Arts Society Sarawak

Datin Dona Drury Wee is the President of Culinary Heritage and Arts Society Sarawak (CHASS), a grassroot organisation that empowered Kuching City’s participation in the UNESCO list of Creative City of Gastronomy. She is also co-produced an award-winning cookbook with the Sarawak Eurasian Association that won the World’s Best Local Cuisine Award in Paris in 2011.

Marco Sandri - Global Manager of The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste

Marco Sandri is the Global Manager of The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste, an international third-party certification on food waste prevention for restaurants, hotels and canteens. He holds a M.A. in International Hospitality Management earned at IU University of Germany, after spending +1,5 years working in F&B between Canada and New Zealand. He has +2,5 years experience in sustainability for profit and non-profit organizations in 3 different countries. He is also a certified trainer for the professional course “Becoming an Accredited Consultants for The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste” provided by LightBlue Consulting.

Huen Sue San - Serial Entrepreneur, Founder of COOKHOUSE

Huen Su San is the Founder of COOKHOUSE, Malaysia’s premier shared cloud kitchen space dedicated to the F & B business and entrepreneur community. Through COOKHOUSE, old and new chefs, along with F&B business owners looking to tap into the food delivery market, can further grow their business in a fully equipped kitchen, with plenty of opportunities for collaborating, networking, and sharing in this commercial-grade facility. Su San looks to pioneer the growth of the cloud kitchen space locally, setting a standard and expanding the industry for food entrepreneurs across the nation. 

Chef John Lim - Chef De Cuisine for Roots Restaurant - Food Journal

Working with indigenous ingredients from all around Borneo is what inspires Chef John and his team at Roots. He marries traditional cooking techniques with a contemporary, diverse approach to food presentation. He creates innovative recipes with items ranging from the commonplace – vegetables, fruits, – to the bizarre – seafood guts, cow brains, and insects and retransforms his creations at his restaurant every quarter of the year. Chef John Lim, in his own words, “this is my story. I am a chef, forager and still learning from what cooking has to offer”.

Hazel Tang - Chef owner of DINEWITHFED Bakery & Cafe

Hazel Tang, chef owner of DINEWITHFED Bakery & Cafe. Kuching-lang, born and bred. After completing her Culinary Diploma at SUNRICE Global Chef Academy at 19, she pursued her culinary career working in various F&B establishments over the course of 8 years. To name a few,Brasserie Gavroche, Cocotte (the Unlisted Collection Group), Burnt Ends( one Michelin restaurant, Burnt Ends Hospitality Group) , The Carving Board an upscaled hawker by Tiong Bahru Pau. Throughout the years she has been curious about all operations related to the industry as her goal was to have an establishment of her own one day so she grabbed the opportunity to take on roles not only as a cook but a baker, bartender and assistant restaurant manager. Moving back to Kuching at the end of 2019, she started her first pop up dining – a four handed dinner with an ex-colleague/Sous chef from Burnt Ends. This then led to a series of pop up dinners and even Kuching’s first ever Yu-Tiao Party! When the COVID19 pandemic happened, she went ahead in selling sourdough-based baked goods and pizzas right from her home which then with the help of close friends and family, birthed the idea of FED as a bakery and organically led to what the cafe is today.

William Roggonneau - Executive Chef, Saveur Consulting Sdn Bhd

An entrepreneur at heart who started out in IT procurement, then opening a dive school before answering to his true passion, cooking. He trained as a chef firstly at Alain Ducasse School in France then with renowned Japanese chef, Takenori Shinto in France.  Chef William’s passion has taken him to many places in Europe and Asia and now, Malaysia. He started the brand, Asianhouseparty during MCO in Malaysia last year and since then, the business has grown to be a premium private catering company that hosts many private dining events, dinner shows and also a weekly Pop Up Bistro.  He has also launched a specialty bread brand, Oui Bread and has also expanded to B2B distribution all of which sit under the main brand, Saveur Kitchen.

TJ Anthony- Brand Developer & Beverages Innovation Manager - Asia, Giffard Liquers & Syrups

TJ, is a hotelier, barista, waiter & bartender, a certified trainer, a beverage developer, an f&b consultant and everything else you want to be in the industry. He began his great career today with a humble beginning as a barista and later move to working in hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Hilton, Westin and Pre Opening team for Traders working as a waiter then to a bartender to a supervisor handling an outlet then moved to Classic Fine Food and was certified by Mikaele, a three-time WBC champion at Illy University del Café, as a trainer. TJ served as a judge for the Diageo World Class events in the Philippines and Malaysia, the Master’s Cocktail & Flair Competition in Phuket, The Big Match in China, and the Grape Expectation Bartender Competition in the Maldives. Today TJ is the Beverage Innovation and Brand Developer for Giffard Liqueurs & Syrups and also educates the young minds in prestigious culinary institutions like KDU, Berjaya and etc.

Suzanne Ling - Co-founder,storyteller,PichaEats

Suzanne is the co-founder for PichaEats, an impact-driven business that aims to serve delicious meals & enable change among communities through food. Founded in 2016, PichaEats partners with chefs from displaced communities, sharing their delicious cuisines from their home countries, including Palestine, Syria, Pakistan & Afghanistan to conferences, events, homes & more. Whatever delicacy you choose to indulge in – all meals are lovingly prepared by the Picha Chefs, enabling them to put food on their tables, as they put food on yours. Along with her co-founders, she was also awarded The Edge Young Inspiring Leaders Award, Forbes 30 Under 30 2018, Prestige 40 Under 40, Asia Tatler’s Gen T Malaysia etc for the work that they do.

Dr. Kenny Lee Wee Ting - Co-founder, Earthlings Coffee Workshop

Sarawakian Coffee Lover , Doctorate in Business administration, TEDxPetaling Speaker, Kaldi Award Winner for Green Coffee Findings (Stuttgart, Germany), Specialty Coffee Association of American Lead Instructor, Authorised Specialty Coffee Association of Europe Trainer , licensed CQI Arabica Q grader, and Master Coffeologist. Kenny has been travelling the world to learn about coffee since 2012. He then co-founded Earthlings Coffee Workshop in 2014. He believes that humans and coffee, like any other living beings, are all Earthlings, and the sustainability of such (co)dependent relationship between the two lies in deeper understanding of the latter from the former.

Alleena Abdullah - Founder, Yellow Tree Malaysia

Yellow Tree was set up to train and consult under-served communities; indigenous, refugees, women and MSMEs in the field of brand and marketing. As the co-founder of Pathway, she assists businesses to excel in digitalisation, people development and internationalisation. Alleena received her MBA in hospitality with Cornell University and ESSEC Business School of Paris. She experienced various roles with iconic industry brands such as Four Seasons, Le Bristol, Technip and Nestlé. At the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) at UKM, she drives the brand strategy and Master’s programme in sustainable food development for The Ulam School.

Alexander Lowell Small - Co-founder and Managing Director of UMAI

Director of UMAI, Malaysia’s most widely used restaurant reservation system and CRM. He is passionate about helping restaurants improve their bottom line with technology. Prior to UMAI, Alexander was Managing Director of Foodpanda Singapore, led marketing, sales and analytics teams for Rocket Internet across the US, Germany, Australia and Singapore, and started his career as a Business Analyst at Mckinsey & Company.

Kol Bersekutu (PA) Datuk Abdul Malik Abdullah - Founder and Managing Director of D'tandoor International Group of Companies

Datuk Abdul Malik the Chief of Everything (COE) of HAKIM ACADEMY SDN BHD (Hard Knocks Institute of Management), a company that provides training for businesses. He also established the D’Tandoor International Group of Restaurants and is the founder, managing director, and the franchisor. His restaurant chain has branches in the Middle East and Australia.

Haji Jamalludin HM - Director of Hakim Academy Sdn Bhd

Hj Jamalludin HM is a professional trainer and consultant for the service industry and hospitality for over a decade. Other than consulting for various government ministries, agencies and local private sectors, his most recent client is Pernas & INSKEN.

Philip Chow - Director of Malaysia Operations, Old Chang Kee Limited

Philip Chow joined the Group in April 2005 and has been responsible for overseeing the overseas business operations of the Group since December 2013. He was also appointed as an Executive Director of Old Chang Kee Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, the Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, in November2014. As Director of Malaysia Operations, he is responsible for business development in overseas markets as well as overall management of the Group’s manufacturing facility in Iskandar Malaysia.

Dr. Eduardo Seijo Solis - UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy Focal Point for the City of Mérida| UCCN Gastronomy Cluster Coordinator

Dr. Eduardo Seijo Solis, PhD., Is a Professor and Dean at the Marist University of Merida, a researcher, a specialist consultant for UNESCO, and the Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the UCCN Gastronomy City Merida.. Dr Solis is also the coordinator of the Tourism Commission of the National Association of Mayors. He participated in the creation of the Mexican Network of Creative Cities of UNESCO and is the coordinator of the UCCN’s gastronomy cluster.

Jane Bennett - Chair of Launceston Gastronomy

Jane Bennett, is the Chair of Launceston Gastronomy, established to champion Northern Tasmania’s gastronomy city initiatives. She has thirty years of experience in the agrifood industry and spent eleven years on the Brand Tasmania Council and the Tasmanian Food Industry Advisory Council of the Tasmanian Government. Jane was named 2010 Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year, 1997 Australian ABC Rural Woman of the Year, 1998 Regional Development winner in the Young Australian of the Year Award and 1994 Tasmanian Rural Achiever of the Year.

Hidedki Shuto - Manager, Creative City of Gastronomy Promotion Office, Industrial and Tourism Promotion Division, Usuki Municipal Government

Hideki Shuto, is the Manager of the Creative City of Gastronomy Promotion Office, Usuki Municipal Government’s Industrial and Tourism Promotion Division. He join the Oita Prefectural Government in 2000, and continue to work in services for the primary industry and commerce. In 2021, he began serving Usuki City to support its inclusion in the UCCN.

Colleen Swain - UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy Focal Point for San Antonio & Creative City of Gastronomy Deputy Coordinator

Colleen Swain has served as Director of the City of San Antonio World Heritage Office since April 2016. As of 2017, Ms. Swain has also serves as the Focal Point for San Antonio and Deputy Coordinator for all the UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy. She is a member of the ICOMOS and ICTC. Colleen Swain holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Texas A&M University at College Station and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Mariangela Regazzi - Head of the Tourist Information and Reception Office of the City of Parma

Mariangela Regazzi, member of Mediagroup98 cooperative, is the team manager of the Tourist Information Office Iat R on behalf of the Municipality of Parma. She has been working in tourism since 2001 and has been the Iat R team manager since 2018. In particular, she followed the birth of the first product club, themed food, Parma in the heart of taste (wanted by the Municipality of Parma in 2015) which later became the current Parma City of Gastronomy. She followed and directed all phases of construction and development of the product club. Now she is in charge of the coordination of the operators, training, enhancement and promotion to the outside world.

Chua Zhu Lian - Managing Director of Vision Group

Zhu Lian is the Managing Director of Vision Group, in charge of overall group strategy and business development. Vision Group is an integrated business enabler ecosystem comprising in-house infrastructure and subject matter experts in the field of banking & finance, technology (blockchain, AI/Machine learning, cloud computing, core banking system and other technologies) and digital transformation. Vision Group houses a diversity of businesses under its umbrella, including investments, advisory and multiple private ventures in areas such as property management, fintech and digital technology. Concurrently, Zhu Lian is also an Investment Director of Fortress Capital Asset Management where he provides his expertise in the capital markets. Zhu Lian graduated from University College London and obtained his CFA ® charterholder. Previously, he was with Bank Negara as a Financial Supervisor of investment, commercial and Islamic banking covering portfolios including Corporate/Commercial Banking, SME, Asset/Fund Management, Corporate Finance and Trade Finance. Vision Group also maintains an engagement portal for knowledge sharing in areas of investments, sustainability & ESG, fintech and blockchain at www.engage.vision.

Chua Zhu Shaun - Managing Director of Vision Advisory

Shaun Chua, CFA is the Managing Director of Envision, an advisory firm under Vision Group, providing Investor Relations and Corporate Advisory services to companies including public listed companies. Prior to setting up EnVision, Shaun has worked in Fortress Capital Asset Management, providing fundamental equity research across companies in Asia. Shaun graduated from Cass Business School, City University of London with BSc Investment and Financial Risk Management (First Class Honours), and has obtained his CFA ® charterholder in 2020. Vision Advisory has extensive hands-on experience in listed and unlisted corporates as well as SMEs in areas of sustainability & ESG, business transformation, digital technology, banking and finance. They have helped many companies accelerate their ESG and sustainability journey, in areas such as ESG ratings, sustainability linked financing, internal training, subsidies, ESG technology and others. For more information, please visit their website at www.advisory.vision.

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