About the Author:
Ong Jin Teong was born in Penang. He studied at St. Xavier’s Institution and was exposed to cooking at an early age. His mother, Khoo Chiew Kin, has observed that her brother-in-law could cook and that was why she encouraged him, and his siblings to do their own cooking.
As a very active member of the Scout movement in school, he also picked up cooking amongst many other skills. He first learned to cook his full course meal while earning his cook’s badge - cooking local dishes like pisang goreng, long beans in sambal sauce, kuih kodok, and toffee apple, an English dessert. In those days, the scouts did everything in camp, from gathering the wood for the fire and cooking to the washing up. Pots and pans that arrived at the camp with black bottoms invariably became spotlessly clean and shiny at the end. They had to be spotlessly clean for the daily camp inspection. That was where he learned to do the washing-up!
Jin Teong went to London to study Electrical Engineering in 1963, where he extended his range of cooking. He first stayed in a hostel where the food became a bit monotonous. In those days, it was difficult to find Malaysian or Singaporean restaurants, so he resorted to cooking Penang food in a tiny kitchenette, with only an army surplus billy-can. He drew on his observations of food preparation at home and at hawker stalls in Penang. Recipes from his mother’s cooking demonstrations were treasured. He even made poh piah skin, recalling how it was done in a shop in Penang.
After he obtained a Ph.D. from Imperial College London, he joined Cable & Wireless Ltd., an international telecommunications company. After his first posting to Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean, he returned to the C&W London head office.
In 1984 he joined the Nanyang Technological Institute, which later became the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore as an Associate Professor. He retired from his full-time position in 2005, when he seriously started a research for his book.