Nando’s International Grillers’ Challenge 2017 @ Johannesburg, South Africa: Sabahan, Wan Faedzal bin Ismail Wan is the World Champion!

Written by @Lan 
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Nando’s believes in familial work environment. It constantly provides that jovial working environment hence employees work together, fostering family spirit. Opportunities are created for employees not only to discover the world but to expand their skills, professionally. The Grillers Challenge, held annually, is one of that many opportunities. In the 2017 edition of Nando’s Malaysia Grillers’ Challenge, top 3 winners were chosen and they represented Malaysia in Nando’s International Grillers’ Challenge held at Johannesburg, South Africa. Of all super talented International Grillers, a Sabahan, Wan Faedzal bin Ismail Wan, emerged as the World Champion!


Wan Faedzal bin Ismail Wan works at Nando’s 1 Utama, Bandar Utama. Born and raised in Beaufort, Sabah, he started his adventure at Nando’s Oceanus Mall, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah before being transferred to Klang Valley. His passion and perseverance has always puts him in the best platforms. It’s his resoluteness that made him the Champion of Nando’s 2017 International Grillers’ Challenge. We travelled more than 1500km just to be able to meet Wan Faedzal personally, understanding his passion, world-view and vision.

Started as part-timer, it took Wan Faedzal 7 months to get to the Griller’s position. Prior to being a griller, he had to learn all other tasks in the Kitchen. According to him, Nando’s treats employees as family members. It give employees the spirit, precisely, motivation; to acquire skills and knowledge. It was his superior who saw his ability as a talented griller and from there on he’s relocated to Klang Valley.

It’s here that his knowledge and skills expands. He learned the proper way to grill chicken. It didn’t take that long before he was nominated by his superior to represent Nando’s 1 Utama in Nando’s Griller’s Area Challenge. The area challenge was held in August 2017 where 127 grillers from over 73 Nando’s restaurant’s across various states in Malaysia put their skills to the test to produce the most succulent PERi-PERi chicken.

Wan Faedzal was the winner in the area challenge. 13 grillers were selected to compete in the National level, held in August 2017. Wan Faedzal was one of the 13 grillers. In the National level, 22-year-old Shidin bin Salleh from Sunway Pyramid took the third prize while Wan Faedzal bin Ismail Wan who is also 22 from 1 Utama was announced as the first runner-up. Mohd Syafiq bin Samah, 23, of East Coast Mall Kuantan was named the top griller in Malaysia. All three represented Malaysia in Nando’s International Grillers’ Challenge held in October, 2017 at South Africa.


“I didn’t expect to win at the International level as I was only second in National level. My initial objective was just to go through in Nando’s Malaysia area challenge. When I was selected for the National level, I knew that I had to work a bit harder as there were 13 of us, competing head to head, vying for the spot to represent Malaysia.” Wan Faedzal said. “At National level, though I had that self-confidence, the obvious challenge faced by all competing grillers was to adjust with the grill’s temperature” he added.

We were made to understand that there are many criteria that need to be mastered by those competing in Nando’s Grillers’ Challenge. They will have to adhere to the detailed guidelines specified by the organizer. Appearance, hygiene, grill preparation and grilling process are among the things that being looked into by the judges during the competition. The judges will then be giving marks for taste and presentation. This alone is one detailed process as more precise factors are given utmost attention.

Browning of skin, grill marks, cutting of the chicken, the skin, tenderness, cooked through, juiciness, temperature and brand fitness are all the factors being considered under the taste and presentation criteria. It’s definitely a process that requires griller’s passion, dedication, determination and focus. To know that Wan Feadzal successfully went through all the competition’s stages is really something that not only inspired both of us but surely it will inspire the younger generation.

“It’s not an easy task to defeat the other 12 competitors in the National level, let alone during the international level in Johannesburg, South Africa” said Wan Faedzal. “I stayed focus during the entire duration of the challenge. As I mentioned earlier, the grill’s temperature was indeed a challenging factor as each outlet has different adjustment. With guidance from my superior, I trained at several Nando’s outlets in Klang Valley getting myself used to different sets of temperature” he added.


“The hard work pays off. During the challenge at Johannesburg, one of my team mate had to endure the difficulty in adjusting to the grill’s temperature and luckily I was mentally prepared for that! Apart from that, I guess my deeper understanding towards the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) gave me the advantage.”

“Honestly, I aimed for at least 3rd placing in Johannesburg. Then it was the announcement for 3rd and 2nd place, but my name was not mentioned. I was a bit upset but when it was announced that Malaysia’s was the winning country, I stood up, not really thinking that I’ve won. I was just getting ready to cheer-up and fully support my other mates. Then, my name was announced as the winner. God knows how I feel during that particular moment. ” said Wan Faedzal.

His success proved that with inner-strength, passion, determination, focus and hard work leads to brighter future. “There are many jobs available nationwide but sadly, youngsters are very picky and they end up with having nothing, be it experience or financially.” said Wan Faedzal. “There are no short-cuts to success, hard work and determination are crucial in reaping the best of the best.” he added.

We’re amazed with Wan Faedzal personality. At young age, his character and thoughts seems to have that inner-strength; something must have driven him, making him a better person, perhaps to a point that Wan Faedzal himself has never expected. Perhaps Nando’s working environment shaped him as he is today. Nando’s big family care for one another and they want everyone that works with the brand, to be happy and succeed.


Pride, passion, courage, integrity and family are the 5 values of Nando’s. They live, breath and work every day, based on that 5 values. That 5 values perhaps are the biggest motivation for Wan Faedzal. He is comfortable at where he works now and he is looking forward for many great years working at Nando’s.

We had the opportunity to see how things are for Wan Faedzal at his grill station. While he grilled chicken parts, we tried to imagine that we’re in his shoes. That’s a job that really needs passion, dedication and courage. When we sampled some of his grilled PERi-PERi Chicken, I did imagine how Chung Lyn and her dad went to a Nando’s outlet in Cardiff, with the intention to have lunch.

It was love at first sight; the love towards the deliciousness of PERi-PERi Chicken that eventually brought the same brand to Malaysia. Had Chung Lyn was not a fan of Nando’s while being in UK and had she did not get her father to have lunch at Nando’s, on that particular day, perhaps Nando’s Malaysia might have different colors today. It’s this particular family that brought Nando’s to Malaysia, in 1998 to be precise.

Thanks to Chung Lyn and her family, stars are born. Those stars includes Wan Faedzal bin Ismail Wan. Had not Chung Lyn’s family expand Nando’s to Malaysia, Wan Faedzal might be working somewhere else. He’d probably never know about Nando’s Grillers’ Competition. That’s what we named as fate. A fate with great happenings and results. It gives that great path to everyone who works at Nando’s Malaysia.

While both of us were enjoying that succulent PERi-PERi Chicken grilled by the World’s Best Griller, we had a quick glance at the grill station. Wan Faedzal was seen busy grilling chicken parts but he seemed to enjoy it. We believe that some day, perhaps in the near future, this young Sabahan will be the best reference for new grillers at Nando’s. Well, one thing always lead to another, who knows that fate will put him working alongside Chung Lyn. Fingers crossed.


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“The Nando’s Grillers’ Challenge is aimed at building and helping our young employees achieve their best potential while advancing their careers in the company. ‘People’ have always been a key factor in the Nando’s world. We believe in the principle that Nando’s is not just about the chicken, it’s about the people who make the chicken. This competition aims to give recognition to our most dedicated grillers, who are responsible for firing up the amazing flame-grilled PERi-PERi chickens loved by many.”

“Competitions like this show our people how much they matter. It is also a fantastic way to get our workforce fired up. One of our key values at Nando’s is youth development and with 85% of our workforce made up of people between the ages of 17 – 30 years old, these opportunities not only give them a challenge, but an exciting avenue to engage with their peers from around the world,”

-Stephen Chew, CEO of Nando’s Malaysia


About Nando’s

The story of Nando’s began in a small Johannesburg suburb in South Africa in 1987, with all the passion for Portuguese-inspired flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken. In 1998, Nando’s opened its first restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and has been grilling Malaysian’s taste buds ever since. Now Malaysia is home to 73 Nando’s restaurants across various states, best known for its legendary and delicious flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken. Nando’ surround customers with warmth, hospitality and fun, whilst offering them a meal to remember.



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