Masterchef S2 runner-up Leon Lim to introduce heritage recipes through new home-based business, Ng’s Kitchen


Former Masterchef contestant and runner-up Leon Lim has teamed up with his mother, Cindy Ng, to offer authentic, Cantonese-inspired dishes from the heart.

ng's kitchen
MasterChef Leon Lim with his mother, Cindy Ng

When former Masterchef contestant and runner-up Leon Lim, 35, asked his mother what she was hoping to do after retirement, setting up a brand-new home-based business probably wasn’t top of mind.

But through sheer happenstance, Leon and his mother Cindy Ng, 66, are now the driving forces behind Ng’s Kitchen, a home-based business that aims to bring authentic family heirloom dishes into local homes.

Leon’s mother, Cindy Ng

Leon’s mother, Cindy, has always loved cooking since a young age so it’s no surprise that she has amassed an arsenal of recipes from her mother which she continuously honed over time. 

A skilled home cook in her own right, Cindy began cooking at the age of 16 when she had to cook for her family of 9. Over the years, she continued to learn classic Cantonese recipes from her mother, which she later introduced to her own family while putting her own unique twist on them. 

When the time came for Cindy to think about life after retirement, she felt that she wanted to spend that time cooking, but the family’s busy schedules meant she usually didn’t have anyone to cook for. 

With Cindy’s post-retirement plans at the back of his mind, Leon entertained the idea of starting a home-based food business with her but haven’t had the chance to follow through with it. So when Blockchef approached him to join their launch, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to put his thoughts and her cooking skills into action. 

With Ng’s Kitchen, Cindy will present her time-honoured Cantonese family heirloom recipes that she has picked up over the years, as well as some of her own unique creations which she has refined over time. 

Trying out Ng’s Kitchen launch menu

The mother-son duo are introducing a set of six dishes for Ng’s Kitchen’s initial launch: Fermented Tofu Pork, Curry Pork Rib, Curry Mutton, Herbal Soup, Braised Mushrooms and Pork Trotter Vinegar

Of these, Leon tells us that the Fermented Tofu Pork and Curry Mutton are their favourites. 

Cindy’s spin on Fermented Tofu Pork – braised instead of deep fried

Leon recalls having the Fermented Tofu Pork growing up, with the dish making a special appearance during events like Chinese New Year. 

Most would probably have had this dish at zi char stalls as a deep-fried version, but Cindy’s version is braised, which to me feels a tad more homely. The braised pork belly was incredibly tender, flavourful and went down great with a piping bowl of white rice.

Cindy’s pride and joy – Curry Mutton

The Curry Mutton is Cindy’s very own pride and joy — her unique blend of spices, which include dried chilli, turmeric, ginger, onions, and other ingredients like tomato and carrot — has removed any hint of gameyness you might typically associate with mutton. 

Braised Mushroom

For me, it was the Braised Mushroom and Herbal Soup dishes that truly made me feel like I was a guest dining with Leon and Cindy right in their home. 

The Braised Mushroom dish reminded me of what my late godmother would cook during Chinese New Year meals with its subtle umami taste — thanks to the bits of dried scallop within. 

Cindy’s robust herbal soup, served with chicken, goji berries, red dates and Chinese Angelica root

The Herbal Soup was probably my favourite of the lot. It tasted just like those you would get at a traditional Chinese restaurant, but without the heavy, usually MSG-laden flavours. Instead, it tasted homely and comforting and I couldn’t quite get enough of it. 

More than just a home-based business

Since the conclusion of Masterchef Singapore season 2, Leon has been keeping busy with his multiple hustles — tutoring, singing (Leon was a finalist in the local competition S-POP), cooking, and being the co-owner of a local cafe. 

Adding his most recent home-based business with his mother to the mix makes one wonder, how does this multi-talented individual stay on top of it all?

To Leon, being boxed into a single identity or role is not his thing, adding that “we shouldn’t really be defined by one identity. We can do many things at the same time.” 

Leon believes that no one should limit themselves to just one job or one identity, as seen from his multiple talents and hustles. 

In that same vein, to Leon, Ng’s Kitchen is not just an avenue for his mother to keep busy or earn a side income in her golden years. 

Leon hopes that through Ng’s Kitchen, he wants to “let more people know that a lot of the heirloom recipes from their grandparents and parents are getting lost because no one is learning them”.

He adds: “To a lot of these elderly, these recipes are their treasures. But they don’t really share them with their families as they don’t think it is valuable.”

Leon wants to change that, starting with his own family — first with his mother’s recipes, and hopefully with his maternal aunts’ recipes, all of whom have their own unique recipes to share like glutinous rice and Peranakan curries. 

Hence the name Ng’s Kitchen to potentially bring in more recipes from the wider Ng family.

If Cindy’s recipes are anything to go by, we are definitely excited to see what other culinary treasures Ng’s Kitchen will introduce and serve up over time.

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