M’sian wins Asia’s Best Vegan Chef

Malaysian pride: ‘I remain committed to working hard and upholding good principles and values’ says Chef Dave (centre) as he poses with his award. – Courtesy of ChefDave_VeganJourney/Instagram

PETALING JAYA: Another Malaysian chef has gained international acclaim when Kalidevan Murugaya, better known as Chef Dave, was honoured with the title of Asia’s Best Vegan Chef with Creative Influence at the Asia Awards (AA) 2023 in India.

The award was presented to him in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, last Sunday.

“I am truly honoured to receive this award in Tamil Nadu, the place of my ancestors. I dedicate this achievement to their courage and hard work which paved the way for my success.

“When people describe me as successful, I am humbled. I remain committed to working hard and upholding good principles and values. I promise to continue striving for excellence and making everyone proud!” he said in a Facebook post.

The event, associated with online research council World Research Congress, recognised over 50 entrepreneurs across various fields.

Dave, who is from Jementah, Johor, became a vegan overnight in 2019.

It all started after he watched two videos about the cruelty in the egg and dairy industries, which left him feeling emotionally disturbed.

“Just a few weeks before 2020, I made a decision to go vegan and stand in solidarity with animals, to fight for injustice happening towards animals and be a voice for the voiceless,” he shared on his YouTube channel.

He is among many, including celebrities like singer Billie Eilish, actress Rooney Mara and race car driver Lewis Hamilton, who are choosing a vegan lifestyle to align with their values.

“I am currently working on veganising all traditional Malaysian and Asian food to showcase to the world that being a vegan is much easier than you think.

“I hope my journey can inspire others with content surrounding vegan life, food and travel,” said the former hotel chef who holds a degree in tourism, leisure and hospitality management from Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, England, and a Masters of Business Administration from University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

In 2021, he completed his diploma in vegan cooking. Three years ago, he set up D’Vegan Academy to empower home-based cooks to master basic cooking techniques and plant-based cooking.

In the same year, he set up PB Health, a social enterprise dedicated to helping Malaysians improve their health through a whole food, plant-based diet.

He has posted over 600 cooking videos on YouTube, featuring vegan versions of local heritage food recipes, amassing close to eight million views.

Netizens have flooded Dave’s social media accounts since he won the award.

@jeanbeanstudio on Instagram commented, “Congratulations Chef Dave! Your award is well deserved and you are truly inspiring. Thank you for representing Malaysia. We are proud of you.”

@javanese_vegan added: “Congratulations Chef Dave! Your achievement is a source of happiness and I am genuinely proud of you. May success continue to accompany you in all your endeavours.”

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