UK Celebrity Chef Goes on a Food Hunt in Kota Kinabalu!


The king of London’s carnivores Richard Harry Turner was here in Kota Kinabalu! We spent a lovely Sunday with Richard and his pals exploring the local and native dishes during his short trip in Sabah.

“I don’t think I have ever come across Asian food that I don’t like”. Now, that’s a good sign!

How did you start as a chef?

25 years ago, I was eating at a restaurant and I enjoyed the food so much. I was eating in good restaurants every day. Basically, I was working in private security. So I was looking after people, providing close protection to clients. So, when the clients were having lunch and I would eat in the same restaurant, but at a different table. The food was always really, really, really nice and I wanted to know how to make it. I asked the chef of the restaurant if I can work in kitchen, but he kept saying “No” and it went on and on.

After about 3 months, he finally said “Yes”. That was how I started working in the kitchen. I worked for Marco Pierre White, one of a famous chef in Europe. It was an unforgettable training! Now, I have 13 restaurants and 10 of them are in London. I have butchery as well as a festival – Meatopia.

Before arriving Sabah, did you have any expectation on our food?

Not really, I mean, you have the Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, all mixed up together. Malaysia is a melting pot of culture!

Which country has the best food?

I don’t think you can say one country because some parts of different countries have their own unique food to explore and taste.

How many languages do you speak?

Truthfully, I used to speak German, French, and Arabic, but now, just English, because it has been 25 years since I speak those languages. I live in Germany, I learnt German. I work in France, I spoke French.

Is this your first time in Malaysia?

No, I’ve been to Sarawak and Bukit Tinggi in Kuala Lumpur. I went to military school when I was 11. After graduating, I served in Brunei and Sarawak. In 1989, I was in Sarawak for the British Army Jungle Warfare Training School. It used to be in Sarawak, then it moved to Brunei and now it is in Belize”.

Tell us more about Meatopia.

It’s all about the meat in Meatopia. There’s a lot of smoke, barbeque, fire, music … it’s like 60 chefs from around the world gathered in Meatopia for three days! Every chef cooks different food, no repetition. Meatopia is a festival of high quality, ethically sourced meat, all cooked over ethically sourced wood and charcoal by some of the world’s leading top chefs. A weekend-long love affair of meat, drink, fire and music, Meatopia UK has become a legendary event for food lovers.

What is your must-try dish when you visit new places?

I like fish-meat combination. I like fermented fish and pork.


Yee Fung Restaurant

“I think the food is delicious, but I’m not overly keen on the chicken watan. It tasted a bit strange. Probably because I’m used to pork and chicken is unusual for me.”

“The vegetable (sayur sawi) is my favourite. Green vegetable, with carrot and fried garlic, fantastic – best thing I’ve tried.”

D’ Place Kinabalu

“There are strong flavours in this platter. I like the “tortured sardine” Basung Goreng and Hinava. The taste of Ambuyat and Sup Pinasakan is fine and it has an interesting texture. I never expected the Wild Ginger (Tuhau) to be spicy; stronger than ginger. The Bambangan (wild mango) is sour – it’s too intense for me!”  

Fun Fact:

I’ve been cooking for more than 20 years

Sports: Rugby, Muay Thai, and Yoga

I love vegetables.