Don Yong, the chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Baking, passed away on Tuesday, Oct 30, from lung cancer. He was 60.
Yong was well-known in Malaysian baking circles for his popular English Hotbreads School of Baking in Petaling Jaya, which he opened in 1987. The school was renamed the Malaysian Institute of Baking (MIB) and gives out certificates and diplomas in baking science and technology, molecular gastronomy and cake decoration, to name a few.
MIB was one of the first institutions in Malaysia to be appointed and recognised by vocational education organisation City & Guilds International in London as an examination centre. Yong served as the chairman of MIB.
Yong’s passion for baking was influenced by his family – his parents owned the Sun Weng Lock confectionery, which they opened in 1966 and later renamed English Hotbreads. In a 2003 interview with The Star, he revealed that one of his earliest baking-related memories was of icing a cake as a 12-year-old.
“I don’t think the head chef was too pleased with me as both our iced cakes were on display and mine was sold first as it was more colourful! He actually banned me from entering the kitchen, but this did not put me off,” he said.
Yong went on to attain a degree in biochemical engineering with a major in food science from the University of Reading, a masters in management science from the University of Southampton and completed a baking science and technology course with the American Institute of Baking.
After establishing MIB, he was extremely hands-on in the school and gave various lectures on subjects like safety and hygiene at work, food preservation and nutrition as well as more practical subjects like costing and marketing. He also taught students how to make various breads, pastries and cakes. Yong kept up with the times, introducing sugar-free, gluten-free and egg-free baked goods to cater for the demand for healthier food.
Yong even went on to author an award-winning book called Bread Winners, where he shared his baking tips and recipes.
Yong leaves behind wife Lee Miew Yee, 52 and children Yong Mei Kei, 26, Yong Lee Kwong, 24 and Yong Mei Ting, 19.“Dad was a principled and well-educated man who put his whole heart into everything he did and anyone he met. He is widely remembered as a visionary in the field of baking and educating, being the most passionate and endearing baker and teacher. He will be deeply missed as a loving father, brother, uncle and dear friend to all who know him,” said son Lee Kwong.
According to Lee Kwong, Yong was so devoted to MIB and his staff that even after having a stroke this year, he kept wanting to work.
“Dad was lecturing and baking up to early June when he abruptly retired due to a minor stroke. Even during his recuperation, he often expressed his desire to return to MIB. He loved his staff and students that much,” said Lee Kwong.