PETALING JAYA - Little did Kenneth Ang know that when he almost burned his home down all those years ago cooking a meal for his mother, he would be the owner of three restaurants today.
Ang, 40, said he was preparing a mustard green and garlic dish for his mother at their squatter home in Old Klang Road.
"I was 11 and felt very sad seeing my mother working very hard, washing clothes and cooking for our family.
"I wanted to cook for her because I knew it would make her happy," said Ang, who is the founder and chief executive officer of the New Shanghai Group of restaurants.
Unfortunately, the family used firewood for cooking and Ang, who has five siblings, lost control of the fire, which had to be put out by his handyman father.
The dish, he added, was also burnt beyond recognition.
"I started watching my mother and the neighbourhood aunties cook and asked them many questions," said Ang, who at 18, went to work as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
Working in almost all the top Chinese restaurants in the country, Ang rose in rank up to a senior managerial position before venturing out on his own a few years ago.
Armed with the ability to cook and manage restaurants, he started opening his own outlets in 2011.
Ang is currently the owner of three restaurants, with his prized outlet being the New Shanghai Legend at the Intermark Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
His two other outlets are the New Shanghai Restaurants at The Pavillion and at Publika, Solaris Dutamas.
Ang said his philosophy in managing restaurants had always been daring to be different.
"I try to break away from the conventional mould - whichever way I can - and create something unique. One such example is how I serve Chinese tea in my restaurants.
"My custom-made cups are wide rimmed and have handles to make it easier to drink from," he said.
Ang said even the way he served his food was different, adding that his inspiration came from the style and splendour of 1920s Shanghai.
"Shanghai then was the hub for fashion, style and fine dining.
"I have created that ambiance at the New Shanghai Legend with the right decor, lighting as well as the manner in which food is served," said Ang, who plans to open more restaurants in the near future.