|Chef Antoine Rodriguez|
Chef Antoine Rodriguez, Executive Chef at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, talks with The Yum List about his role at Le Meridien, life and his favourites foods.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I have been the Executive Chef of Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur for the past 8 years.
The love for food is what got me involved in this industry. My mum used to cook for us and she does it with much love...15 meals a day wasn't a challenge for her, planning menus, market list, budget......amazing!!!!
I was often in the kitchen of the family home and was very curious with how food is created and transformed into a gastronomic delight. For example... How can the egg yolk and oil become thick like jelly when cooked together??? Why liquid cream becomes so fluffy and light after whisking it... so many questions, so many flavours, so much "magic" being created in the kitchen for a young and curious boy.
The passion was born and up till now, I am like that young boy in the kitchen - curious of everything which belongs to food!!!
Where have you worked around the world?
I started in France in 1976, then moved to Africa in 1982. I was in Seychelles Island in 1985, Turkey in 1988, Sri Lanka in 1989, French West Indies Guadeloupe and St Marteen in 1991, Thailand in 1995 and now Malaysia since 2004.
Share with us an interesting story from one of your postings:
I have experienced the most fabulous BBQ of my life. We went diving and caught some lobsters and fish enough to feed five of us. The BBQ was set between a big stone where the lobster and fish were skewered on bamboo stick and hung on top of the smoked coconut fibre of the husk.
Bread fruit was picked from the tree and dropped onto the fire directly. The banana leaves were used as a plate, while our hands were the cutlery. We drank fresh coconut water while enjoying a local fruit called zamalac for our dessert... simply superb and unforgettable!
How do you find the food experience in Malaysia? Do you brave the streets? Eat in restaurants? Or prefer to eat at home? Any local specialities you can't live without?
I believe I became addicted to stir fried Mee Hoon Siam, usually sold at breakfast. In fact I realized that I love all types of noodles and the different ways of preparing these noodles. I often have spicy mee mamak or char kuew teow or mee curry for my lunch. I thoroughly enjoy the Yee Mee Kung Fu and Wanton Noodle Soup in the evening or the stir fried Loh shi fun with black pepper and sliced beef. You name it, I’ve tried it……and I love it!!! I have my favorite noodle spot at Jalan Loke Yew – a great wok fried mee.
Chili is a part of my life as well and I fell in love with it and all its family since I first moved overseas in 1982. The first time I tasted chili was in Africa/Gabon when I discovered the power of the pili-pili… then in Seychelles with the preserved chili.
I also enjoy the Naga chili in the Caribbean (the hottest in the world) and the fiery taste of the Devilled chili dishes in Sri Lanka like the lamprai, jack sambal and kutu roti. Thailand was my next chili experience (the chili oil of a good tom yam should get your sweat trickling down your neck after the first spoon) and now here with the chili padi… love it… anytime… anywhere!!!
What's your favourite French dish?
A very simple dish: A roasted chicken… just add on the herbs and spices with flavored cream cheese in between the skin and the flesh before roasting the bird. The meat stays moist and creamy whilst the skin becomes crispy and crunchy. Appreciated by all!
Which dish are you proud of at Le Méridien?
Latest Recipe: the ultimate nasi goreng or the steak sandwich...the palak paneer is great too...
Favola: our conchiglioni pasta in cartoccio....magic!
Prime: The charcoal grill thick skirt with shallots and home made BBQ sauce, the chuck flap tail simply seared… the cube roll 200 days grain fed is a piece of art... the Master kobe oyster blade is just wow… and more!!!
Gastro Sentral: all the tapas, the flame salmon salad, the prawns hash brown… so much!!!
Patio: our pizzas... all of them!!
What's your ideal food and wine/ liquor pairing?
Red wine and cheese… nothing better!!!
Your perfect day off would be...
A game of golf followed by great pasta at home with my friends!!! Linguine pasta with the following ingredients: Tomato cherry, grated parmesan cheese, shaved garlic, slices of smoked chicken ham, fresh Italian basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil… add your pasta (cooked al dente) to the raw mixture, mixed well for 2 to 3 minutes, add in crushed pepper and chili oil… divine!!!!
What can guests look forward to in terms of Food and Beverage at the Le Méridien in 2013?
The most exceptional food is uncomplicated. Simple method of cooking, earthiness with rustic presentation and ravishing ingredients result in purity and sensuality on the plate. This is our culinary core value for 2013.
Thanks Chef Antoine for your time. What a pleasure to hear and share our enthusiasm for food and life. We hope to dine with you again soon.