What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I have proudly been the Executive Chef at Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur for the past 13 years. It’s been a great journey so far as we are always striving to reach new levels of culinary distinctions as one of the leading lights in the city’s cosmopolitan dining scene.
Growing up you could always find me in the kitchen at my family’s house. I was always very curious to see the transformation of ingredients into mouthwatering dishes! It is there that my passion for cooking was sparked. Cooking is something I do with much love and it keeps me feeling like that young boy back in my family’ kitchen… always curious about anything that is related to food.
What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an Executive Chef so far?
I am so happy to have experienced the most fabulous BBQ of my life. We took advantage of the nature around us and went diving to catch fresh lobsters and fishes, enough to feed the five of us. The BBQ pit was set between two big stones and we used a coconut husk to smoke the lobster and fish that we skewed on bamboo sticks.
We picked breadfruit from the tree and put them on the fire directly. We used banana leaves as our plates and our hands as cutlery, just like here in Malaysia. We drank fresh coconut water and enjoyed zamalac fruit as dessert. I think sometimes as a chef you get put into different positions where you need to be creative and I think this experience showed me that it doesn’t matter where I am, there is always a way to make it work if you really want to.
What’s one of the most outrageous things you’ve seen behind the scenes of your kitchen?
One of the most outrageous requests I’ve experienced so far would be from a prime minister from the Middle East a few years back. He requested to be served pastries that did not contain any sugar, cream, eggs or butter! Image my surprise when putting my creativity to the test to come up with a pastry he would be able to indulge in… but together with my team we created something very special for him and he was happy.
What does your perfect day off day look like?
I am actually an avid golfer! On my off day you can always catch me on the course so my ideal off day pretty much includes a round of golf during the day followed by hearty pasta dish at home with my friends! My go to dish would be an al dente linguine pasta tossed with tomato cherry, grated Parmesan cheese, shaved garlic, sliced smoked chicken ham, fresh Italian basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil. Mixed well for two to three minutes and top off with crushed pepper and chili oil! Absolutely divine!
What does a day in the life of Chef Antoine look like?
Believe it or not, I actually don’t spend much time in the kitchen. My role is to plan menus and create recipes that are featured in all restaurants at Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur. At Prime, I spend hours talking about the concept, trying different cooking methods to maintain consistency, looking for the best product, the best balance in taste, the fancy-trendy presentation. We actually create everything from scratch such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard and much more! At Favola, we are constantly creating new seafood dishes for our guests to enjoy. Our menu is pork free which is something quite new for an Italian restaurant in the Kuala Lumpur dining scene.
What’s your view on the food scene in Kuala Lumpur?
It is extremely complex to define Malaysian cuisine and tastes as it is such a melting pot of origin, culture and tradition!
What I have learned is that Malaysians are very passionate about their food! I enjoy that not only are they passionate about their own dishes but they are also curious to explore something different.
As for myself, I appreciate a fresh roti canai and spicy dahl curry in the morning for breakfast or steamed idli with chicken curry such as one we serve at Latest Recipe at our Indian Corner, simply the best!