Leeds restaurants: Meet the Malaysian chef and TV star appointed as executive chef of Kuala Lumpur Horsforth
and live on Freeview channel 276
Joining the Horsforth restaurant for its launch in October, the plan had initially been for Norman to train up the kitchen team before moving back to the Netherlands.
But the restaurant's owners, the team behind Kuala Lumpur Cafe in Headingley, were so impressed with Norman's menus that they invited him to stay - and the well-travelled chef is thrilled to make Leeds his new home.
Born in Penang, Norman has become the face of Malaysian food and it was his parents who inspired his love of cooking.
“I grew up in a food business family," Norman, 40, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"My late mum always tried to stop me from going into the kitchen, but I was very persistent.
"I saw how hard my parents worked, they woke up at 4am to pick fresh ingredients from the market.
“I wanted to help out and she eventually let me. But for my parents, education is very important.”
Norman moved to the UK in 1994 to study a degree in quantity surveying, before working in the construction industry for almost a decade.
He left the industry to launch a restaurant in Manchester in 2006, the first of many ventures for the chef.
Norman said: "Being a quantity surveyor was good money but I just didn't enjoy it, I always loved cooking and hosting dinner parties with friends.
“I’m a self-taught chef, I didn’t go to any culinary school and everything was built up through passion.
“Sometimes you have to take a risk. I didn’t want to regret not doing it.”
Norman has opened restaurants in York and Malaysia, before travelling the world cooking for Formula One's Lotus team.
He has featured on Masterchef Malaysia, BBC’s Tom Kerridge Best Ever Dishes and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, as well as writing a cookbook set to be released this autumn.
Becoming the food ambassador for the city of Kuala Lumpur is his proudest achievement to date - and now Norman is bringing his Malaysian cooking to Leeds, joining owners Hirman Sugiman and Bart Kuc at Kuala Lumpur Restaurant and Bar.
Customers have flocked to the restaurant to try his menus, including a Malaysian Christmas dinner, and there are plans for a string of special events including cookery classes and a Valentine's Day special.
Norman said: “For some people who walk in, it might be their first experience of Malaysian food. I want them to always remember and talk about their experience.
“My favourite dish has to be laksa, noodles with a curry gravy. It’s perfect for the winter."
After running a pan-Asian restaurant in Hague, the Netherlands, for three years, Norman has recently made the move to Leeds and has been impressed by the diversity of the city's food and drink scene.
He added: “I’ve lived in all four of the biggest cities in England and Leeds is becoming my favourite. I’m hoping that Leeds will be my final pit-stop.
“It’s been a difficult time for us in the industry, but I love seeing the smile on people’s faces after I serve them good food."
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.