1. What made you realize that a career in the food industry was the right path for you?
I’ve been cooking for a long time; 14 years professionally. After SPM I wanted something more physical (hands-on) so I went to Kolej Damansara Utama (KDU) University College and studied culinary arts. After I graduated I worked for my Dad at Dave’s Deli. That’s how I started out my career straight away. But after 10 years I went through dry spell and I felt I needed change, some refreshment. I headed to Paris for two years and studied at Le Cordon Bleu. When I came back I worked with my Dad again and eventually built up to this restaurant.
2. What do you consider to be the most important lesson you have learnt along your journey as a chef /operator?
Learning to fail. Only with failure do you learn to see where your flaws are, and there’s always room for improvement. Through the many phases of my life I’ve been challenged both personally and professionally. In the most down moment in my life I found answers in Paris. I’d never travelled overseas; I went there at a very mature age. It was more of a serious thing. I loved the culture there, and I took back a lot of things, like how the French celebrate gastronomy. They know how to enjoy a meal with friends and family. Food is about sharing and enjoying and I’m glad that I’m in a position to provide that.
3. What do you consider to be your defining quality as a chef?
I strongly believe in certain principles. One of them is proper technique. Artistic value helps but a lot of the times I see many chefs without the basic techniques mastered. Knowing how to make stocks and sauces, cooking eggs properly; like poaching an egg. Eighty percent of the commis I’ve interviewed before have failed the omelette test.
The test isn’t just about how to cook the omelette. You have to have a sense of how the pan reacts, beating the eggs – it can’t be too hard, and also the seasoning. It takes precision and a certain level of skill to achieve simple things. Experience counts.
4. How has your outlook on cooking changed over the years? (If it has changed.)
My outlook is constantly evolving. From the beginning I’ve always been constantly learning, be it from some thing or from someone else. It’s a journey of self-discovery. Money is important but not the first priority. I believe in the pursuit of happiness. For example, cooking as a job… anyone can cook, anyone can look up recipes on the Internet but being a chef, coming into the kitchen day after day, hours in the kitchen – can you do that without being fed up or getting burnt out? You have to do it for the love of it or leave.
5. Lastly, what motto do you live by?
Doing something that you feel contented with yourself. Feeling happy, feeling satisfied about what you do; most importantly it has to come from your heart. I’m very lucky to have this premise just to serve 20 people a night. There’s that pressure every night to meet the expectations of myself and my guests. But the people who come here are on a journey of self-discovery as well. They come here and become a representation of DC’s culture. It’s all about the dining experience.