Thank God it’s Friday!
This week, for a change, we are doing Chef in the Spotlight and the first on our list is Chef Antoine, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur’s Executive Chef , with the smiling eyes and the huge personality! Today, he gives us some insights into the life of a Chef and also his opinion on the changes in dining trends.
-Winter, we slaughtered the veal, prepared duck confit for the year, collected fresh chestnuts, hunted pheasant and other wild birds…
-Summer, stored the grain for the poultry, collected the fruit from the tree and made preserved jam and compotes
-Autumn collected grapes for wine , wild forest mushrooms, fished for tout and salmon…
-Spring, started getting the early young veggies and canned fresh asparagus
and all year long, family would get together for weddings, anniversaries and other parties. We would gather around the fabulous table with plenty of local fresh and natural food . So, as a part of my daily life since I was a kid, this process has come naturally!!!
2. Tell us something about yourself that no one knows?
Up to my 14th years of age, people address me as a girl, as I was looking very feminine …not anymore!!!
3. Who is your favourite Cook/Chef and why?
Chef Yannick Alleno from Le Meurice in Paris…consistency, precision are what he is famous for – he respects texture and tastes of the products. He has a unique approach to “aesthetic” food set up on a plate, through the balance between preparation and presentation.
4. Which country is your favorite travel destination for food?
France (of course!!), but Thailand and Turkey also have the greatest cold appetizers I’ve ever eat!
5. Can you name a book that has inspired you?
“4 seasons at the table number 5” by Kazuko Masui
6. What is your biggest catastrophe in the kitchen?
No catastrophe….. all under control!!!
7. Do you have any advice for budding cooks/aspiring chefs?
Believe in what you do, be proud and passionate, serve your food like you would serve it for yourself and always respect people…not only the ones who work with you but also the ones you serve.
8. What is your favourite recipe and why?
I love pasta and what I usually make for the family is simply tossing piping hot linguine with extra virgin olive oil, basil leaves, roasted garlic and fresh vine ripened tomato halves, then cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with generous shavings of Parmesan before serving. What can I say ? … They love it!
9. Do you think that the old “use it or lose it” axiom holds true for cooking?
I believe if you don’t get the right product you have to “lose it” and be creative …..
10. Do you think that a fine-dining chef is restricted to reproducing a certain sort of cuisine?
Not at all…one of the 3 star Michelin Chefs in France I know makes his reputation as one of the best meat Chefs of his time.
One day, out of the blue, he decides to cut-out a huge chunk of meat products from his menu and work mainly with vegetables and seafood, leaving behind only a couple of meat and poultry dishes. He managed to keep his glory and continued to delight and surprise his diners with his “vegetarian” preparations! A great Chef can work his magic in any circumstance.
11. When it comes down to technical skill vs. putting your heart into your cooking. Which do you think is most vital to producing good food?
Definitely the heart!!!
An epicurean French artist used to say:
“Cooking requires a light head, a generous spirit and a Big Heart”
Everybody knows that the way of the heart is through the stomach and there is no Love more sincere than the Love for Food..!
12. Do you think that there is a correlation between the instability of the economy and the uncertainty of the future, in the growing interest in gourmet food – do people find it comforting?
I will answer you with another citation :
“A real Gourmet delights in buttered bread as he would a grilled Lobster, if the butter is first choice then the bread well ferment”.
You can try a lot of types of food, but ultimately, you will find comfort in what you like best. Some like gourmet food, some like the simple food. But you could say that during troubled times people look for comfort in all sorts of things and food is one of them , yes.
13. Do u think fine-dining restaurants has raised people’s standards as a whole of what they will and will not eat?
Yes, of course!!
Partly due to heightened social consciousness around environmental matters and partly due to health reasons or personal tastes, Chefs are including more seafood, vegetarian items and foods with obvious health benefits.
Also, now a days, the public is very well educated on food and dining. Guests are looking for value, meaning they are cost-conscious without wanting to sacrifice quality.
14. Do you think…
Ahhh… Ciki, you ask me too many questions! I never went to Cornell, I just learned how to chop, fry and taste… Come, come – let’s eat!!
About Chef Antoine Rodriguez
Born in Bordeaux, France, Antoine has gained his wealth of 30 years experience in culinary knowledge through his travels to Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Thailand, Africa and Turkey. As Le Meridien’s Executive Chef, Antoine is responsible for the overall culinary operations of 12 kitchens, food conceptualization and promotions, menu planning and ensuring high quality service delivery standards of 110 kitchen professionals.
Accolades include “Most Outstanding Culinary Team 2005/2006’ by Food Hotel Malaysia, “Best Asian Cuisine 2005/2006” by Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards, Overall winners of the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Black Box Challenge 2007 and “Most Outstanding Hotel Team & Overall Champion” by Culinaire Malaysia 2007.
When French-Spanish Antoine is not busy penning down recipes, he stretches for a game of golf that recently won him the “Low Net Championship” at the Palm Golf Resort. With a handicap of 13 presently, he aspires to become the next Tiger Woods! When he retires of course…