In conjunction with His Royal Highness Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and wife Pengiran Anak Saleha’s 56th wedding anniversary, Chef Wan has decided to take a trip down memory lane by sharing some fond stories with the royal couple.
Apart from the heartwarming messages on his Instagram posts, the celebrity chef also revealed that the husband and wife duo are actually huge fans of him. It all started from an impromptu encounter that blossomed into a sweet friendship.
“10 days before my daughter’s wedding. I met several of their princesses shopping at a Stuart Weitzman store in KLCC. I was also there to buy shoes for Serina’s ‘akad nikah’ (solemnisation). As the princesses are also my fans, and some have also attended my cooking show in Brunei with the Queen herself, we all chatted so excitedly,” Chef Wan (full name Redzuawan Ismail) recalled.
The cooking icon further revealed that just before they left, he asked the princesses to send his regards to both their parents. Much to his surprise, Chef Wan received a call from a Brunei Palace representative. “He said both Tuanku was wondering if Chef Wan is available for tea at 3pm just before they depart for Brunei?” he wrote in the caption.
Chef Wan then added, “We had such lovely time chatting and catching up. Tuanku even teased me, ‘Am I not invited to your daughter’s wedding?’ I laughed and said, ‘If I were to invite you, I’d also have to invite the Prime Minister (at that time, it was Pak Lah, whom I am close too), a few other ministers, and a few other State Sultans and Sultanahs, especially from Pahang.”
The 63-year-old cook was apparently worried about having to handle so many protocols during the ceremony. He continued, “Tuanku just smiled and said, ‘Very wise, by the way I loved your interview on CNN Talk Asia. I watched it, you were very well spoken! Tuanku laughed and told me how proud he was.”
After they finished their afternoon tea session, the Brunei King handed him a “package of cash from the tray line with yellow-coloured velvet cloth”. “Tuanku said, ‘A small gift to my favourite chef for the new year,'” Chef Wan remembered, before adding,“‘You are not travelling for Christmas are you?’ the Brunei Sultan asked, to which I said ‘No, Tuanku”
In his subsequent post, Chef Wan pointed out that he was shocked when he opened the envelope, several Brunei and Singaporean notes began “scattering around”. Approximately, all of them have 40 pieces of 1000 dollar notes. he remarked, “I’ve never seen both currencies as large as the note value. OMG, it was close to RM120k!” However, Chef Wan shared that he took RM60k of the money and gave them away to a few orphanages and disabled homes. While the rest of it was spent on catering for Serina’s wedding.
A year after that, Chef Wan held a cooking demo at a hotel in Brunei, which was also attended by the Royal Queen of Brunei. During the event, he also handed Her Highness copies of his cookbook. A few days after he returned to KL, he was awakened by the surprising appearance of the Brunei Ambassadors in front of his door house! “It was morning at that time. I was still in my kain pelikat and I hadn’t even showered,” he recalled.
After introducing themselves, the Ambassadors then handed him a gift which was laid on top of a tray which was lined with the same cloth that was mentioned earlier.”Chef Wan, I was instructed by the Queen to present this gift to you,” he quoted the members of the Brunei embassy. “It was a Frank Muller Diamond watch, also worth hundreds of thousands with a note thanking me for the show and the various cookbooks.”
In his next post, he proceeded to talk about his nostalgic moments with the Royal Family of Pahang. Before concluding his posts, the “Soal Hati” chef said, “I need to share all these stories with you before it slips my mind. I didn’t want to leave this world without anyone of you knowing how lucky and blissful my life has been.”
“Although there are haters who hate me and condemn me in various ways, but at the same time, I am also loved and appreciated by so many people, including the Royalties,” he ended his caption.