Life is good at 69,” says Beh Gaik Lean of newly minted MICHELIN-Starred restaurant Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery as she receives her MICHELIN plaque on-stage, during the MICHELIN Star Revelation ceremony for the MICHELIN Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang on 13 December 2022 last 13 December 2022.
She beams with pride and a smile filled with contentment — a testament of her years working hard in her restaurant, which makes history as one of the first one-MICHELIN-Starred restaurants in the inaugural MICHELIN Guide in Malaysia. As she gets down from the stage, she shows her hands, rough and worn with the marks of someone who has persevered and dedicated her life to years in the kitchen. “This is love,” she emphasises.
For Beh, she attributes her dream of opening her own restaurant to her son, Adrian Tan, who insisted she come back to Penang after years of working in a factory. According to Tan, “I was living with my grandmother while my mom would bring back food from her factory job since we were very poor at that time. I’ve always loved my mom’s cooking, and I made it my mission to make her famous one day because of her food.”
According to our MICHELIN Guide inspectors, the Penang institution obtains one MICHELIN Star for its Peranakan cuisine crafted from secret recipes using quality produce. Many items here are made from scratch, including the heavenly pie tee and gulai tumis that uses over eight ingredients in the curry paste.
A proud Nyonya woman, Beh waxes poetic about her heritage’s food, determined to do her best to deliver dishes that are rooted in Peranakan cuisine. Learn more about her story in the video above.