Meet Our Makers: Chef Allen

Now, we get to introduce to you our beloved chef who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure Kommune is able to dish out quality plant-based cuisines consistently!

Chef Allen Teoh has played a big part in bringing in plant-based culinary to our establishment whilst fusing it with local elements, making it a unique experience for all diners!

Let's look at what he has to share today!

Jean (Head of Kommune) and Chef Allen
Jean (Head of Kommune) and Chef Allen

KK: Hi Chef! Let's start with the beginning. How did it all start for you? Was it through a personal experience that made you go with plant-based culinary?

Chef: It all started as a child in awe of the hawkers. Being able to cook up a long line of orders with special requests without writing them down all whilst sweating profusely under the hot sun, makes their consistency and hustle really commendable. For me, my cooking skills slowly developed as I have busy parents who are always away at work which forced my siblings and I to start learning on cooking. We started with instant noodles and rice then to complicated dishes. My mom will always have my sisters and I gather at the kitchen whenever she cooks, getting us to help chopping garlic on the floor to plucking vegetable leaves and even cleaning, which is boring to do on weekends but it has become a habit of mine now.  Throughout my entire career of 15 years in this industry, I have never really worked in a full vegan or plant-based outlet before. Although, I did encounter requests for special diets and vegan options. Furthermore, my mom was on a plant-based diet for a period of time when she had surgery. I cooked for her every day, exploring all the possibilities and combinations of plant-based dishes. I also got in touch with some of her friends who have been on this diet for some time to learn about it. This is the story of how I got into plant-based cooking.

KK: What's your favourite part about your job?

Chef: It’s a full package thing. You have to embrace the working long hours even during the holidays, the heat and wounds that come from prepping, the tensions when things are about to get out of hand, and cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom which you might not get the appreciation from others.

But if there has to be one, I would say it’s the recognition that comes with which I hate at the same time.

Plant-based Menu Testing

KK: Are there any influences from your past or present that helped you in your journey?

Chef: Definitely, there are tons of influences that had helped me throughout my career. I have had opportunities to work in different fields other than culinary. Along the way, I have worked for chefs from different backgrounds who each passed down some of their individuality down to me. The exposure of staying abroad from LA, Shenzhen and Phuket up until the return to my hometown, Georgetown, has influenced my style of cooking.

The people and demands are just different. When I was working abroad, the people there were open to experimenting new ways and combinations, pushing the limits of cooking. But here in my hometown, I try to bring in the elements that I have gained overseas into local dishes but it’s always been met with skepticism which has not been easy to handle.

Amuse-bouche for wine tasting

KK: Are there any difficulties merging plant based cooking with Malaysian food culture?

Chef: I find that it’s not very difficult to transform Malaysian dishes into plant-based ones. Plant-based seems to have a controversial reputation around the world but for me, it's just as simple as staying away from animal related products. Luckily our Malaysian cooking uses a lot of allium and spices plus our food diversity behind our multi racial culture makes it exciting to explore all the possibilities. So to answer your question, I think it is more exhilarating than difficult to merge plant based cooking with Malaysian cuisine.


KK: Can you share some words of wisdom for any up and coming cooks?

Chef: Work hard, stay curious, ask questions at the right time, try new things and don’t get over your head. Cooking is like maintaining a relationship, cook like you dress to impress, respect the products and equipment how you want to be respected. It’s a privilege to able to feed people other than your loved ones and them returning shows their trust in you and serves as an acknowledgement on your skills.

Visit us and explore the possibilities of plant-based dining at our locations listed below!

Kommune 162 Lebuh Victoria 
The Habitat Retail & Cafe by Kommune (The Habitat, Penang Hill)