Old Malaya – A leader in equal opportunity

Isadora Chai – International Women’s day!

Malaysian celebrity chef, Isadora Chai, owner of Antara Restaurant at Old Malaya was recently recognised by WOW – as part of International Women’s Day

Upon hearing this terrific news, Kana Theva, CEO and creator of the Old Malaya venue concept, said – “Old Malaya is proud to attract such talented chefs and F&B entrepreneurs as Isadora. I wanted to include a female chef and restaurateur as one of our leaseholders at Old Malaya. I have known Isadora by a reputation for some time and coming to know her personally over the past year, I knew she would be the right fit for Old Malaya. Isadora’s professionalism, ability, and food are exemplary.  I have always believed in providing equal opportunity in business. In fact, a number of my own senior staff members at Old Malaya are women. Having a gender-diverse team helps improve productivity, creativity and foster harmony within the workplace for all.”

Isadora Chai, explains why she chose Old Malaya to house the most recent addition to her famed F&B establishment (Antara Restaurant), “Old Malaya is a unique venue to Kuala Lumpur which is why I wanted my F&B establishment to be represented amongst other quality restaurants in this beautiful historic building”

Antara Restaurant at Old Malaya serves luxe modern Malaysian food with French influences. Strictly MSG-free, Antara’s cuisine is a culmination of fiercely guarded family recipes and soul food. 

The Antara Restaurant at Old Malaya offers a chic and stylish design within an uncrowded setting.


Wayne Joseph PR Director at Old Malaya said “On behalf of the entire team at Old Malaya we congratulate Isadora on being included into WOW, promoting other women to realise their own strengths and potential to peruse great heights in their chosen field.”

Excerpt from article below, highlights Isadora’s achievements and perspectives on how she rose to become a modern female leader in her chosen field of F&B.


Women are carving a path in F&B


Isadora Chai

Chef and owner of Bistro a Table, Anson and Antara

It’s a well-known fact that women in the professional kitchen are a rarity. Even rarer still? Women at the top of their game in the professional kitchen.

Industry estimates indicate that the gender breakdown in local professional kitchens is somewhere in the region of 80% male and 20% female, and as many as 80% of local female chefs eventually quit the industry.

This makes Isadora Chai an anomaly and also – very special. In the local F&B scene, Chai is something of an unstoppable juggernaut. She is one of a very few Malaysian female chef who owns and runs three restaurants in the competitive Klang Valley dining landscape: Bistro a Table, Anson and Antara.

Chai actually graduated with a degree in biotechnology, biochemistry and marketing, before turning her passion for food into a career. She has worked in the kitchens of L’ Etoile Restaurant in Sydney, Australia and La Fontaine aux Perles in Rennes, France.

She started out as a private chef, food stylist and cookbook editor for Her World magazine, before opening Bistro a Table, a modern French restaurant in suburban Petaling Jaya in 2010.

In 2012, ranked it one of the best restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. In 2013, she amassed another career high when Bistro a Table was named the third best restaurant in Malaysia by Miele Guide (incidentally Chai is now a Miele ambassador).

Chai also found her way to television screens as a celebrity judge on the South-East Asian edition of Food Wars. In 2016, she opened two new restaurants, Antara and Anson in the Kuala Lumpur city centre – both aimed at redefining Malaysian cuisine. Antara has already received a four-star rating in Malaysia Tatler’s 2017 edition of best restaurants.

This year – on top of everything she already has on her plate – Chai is also in the midst of completing a cookbook (scheduled for publication in October 2017), called Edible Satire, which chronicles degustation menus from Bistro a Table.

Chai attributes much of her success to having worked hard to gain the trust and respect of her predominantly male colleagues and superiors.

“If I acted more feminine 10 years ago, I don’t think I would be so respected in the industry. I had to be tough to prove my worth and work harder to compensate for not being as physically strong. Having said that, I do adopt a more motherly approach as I get higher up the ranks,” she says.


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