Banker and art collector Bingley Sim combines his love of art with his passion for cooking

Besides having a head for numbers and an eye for art, Bingley Sim has a third super power: food. Not many people know that the head of private client solutions at CIMB Investment Bank and one of Malaysia’s most prominent art collectors has already spent three years working in a London restaurant.

Today, the cooking skills he learned many years ago have resurfaced and been put to good use, in part due to the need to minimize the risk of exposure in these times of a pandemic and, by Therefore, to stay, but also to rekindle the simple joy and pleasure of cooking and to watch your loved ones enjoy the work of your hands.

“Yes, I spent three years working in a restaurant,” he says with a smile. “It was from 1992 to 1994 … at Den’s Kitchen in London, which was created by my brother Dennis. He, like me and another brother, began training at an auditing firm after graduating, but Dennis quickly decided that auditing was not his calling and duly established the Malaysian-Chinese restaurant in Haverstock Hill in Belsize Park in London. I was already a graduate accountant when the restaurant started operating, so in my youth I had two jobs: as an auditor during the day and in the restaurant by night. This was in addition to private accounting and personal tax jobs.

“There was so much we wanted to do back then, be adventurous and dumb,” he continues. “We were ambitious and naïve, but we had fun preparing the menu. I was tasked with sorting the wine list and it was also at this point that I realized that the easiest way to know a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc was to drink it ”, s ‘he laughs. Not that Sim was relegated to simply playing the sommelier. “My main job was actually at the front of the house; I had to manage the front of the restaurant as well as meet and mingle with customers. But being a small facility, there would be days (a lot of them, to be honest) when I had to help in the kitchen.

Sim’s love for food dates back to his teenage years. “In boarding school, I stayed with an uncle in London during the holidays and started cooking when I was 14 years old. I remember the first time I fried ginger and garlic … it immediately brought home the smell to me via the kitchen. Even though homesickness crept in, I always felt better after eating the dishes I had cooked.

Sim also cooked extensively during his years at the University of Birmingham, “experimenting with the cheapest ingredients and coming up with amazing dishes.” I became popular thanks to that, ”he laughs.

Although he proclaimed his fervor for F&B, Sim was never tempted to resume his cooking career. “F&B is my passion and my first love, to be honest. But helping run Den’s Kitchen made sense to me. Working in an investment bank pays the bills. But if I ever had to have my own restaurant, I can imagine it being by the sea… ”he thinks wistfully. “A Malaysian place without borders, with on the menu, for example, a local version of paella or angel hair pasta with cockles cooked in belacan and accompanied by a glass of Gewürztraminer. The only non-negotiable aspect would be the freshness of its products.

Still, the rise of WFH (work from home) gave Sim more time in his chosen field. “I always love to experiment – much to my family’s dismay sometimes,” he says, half-jokingly. “I can’t wait to cook whenever I get the chance … it gets me high!” And since confinement, I am pleased to announce that I have perfected my turkey with a petai stuffing. During the First Movement Control Order, I dove headlong into the world of local herbs and plants, using lots of fresh turmeric and galangal, as well as experimenting as much as possible with flowers and micro- edible shoots. This MCO, I wanted to master everything briyani. In my quest for the perfect dish, I started calling my versions the “Bingyani” and asked my daughter to work with me on a journal! “

In addition to keeping a journal, Sim – displaying his academic background here – also applies the neuro-visual skills of mind mapping when it comes to cooking. “I used the technique a lot to get through my student days. At the office, my projects are also in the form of mind mapping, so it was natural for me to use it in the kitchen as well. Mind maps put all the ingredients, milestones and timeline for execution on one page at the same time. There is no right or wrong. “

Another skill Sim perfected during the early days of Lockdown was drawing. “I started in August and realized that I really enjoyed drawing, especially in charcoal. When I think of one of my recipes, I also try to add a drawing or sketch to it. The drawing captures a moment. When I was frying kway teow, for example, I not only made a mind map, but also added several anecdotes about my experience with char kway teow. All in all, it is not a simple task, but once completed, the whole process – from preparing the ingredients to saving them, frying, eating and, finally, making the recipe. everything – is so rewarding that you really have to experience it yourself to figure out what I’m talking about.

This article first appeared on February 22, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.

Norma D. Ross