|Chef Garth Welsh|
The Yum List speaks with Chef Garth Welsh, Director of Kitchens at The Westin Kuala Lumpur, about food, life and his time abroad.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
My title is Director-Kitchens at The Westin Kuala Lumpur, which means that I oversee all culinary operations within the hotel.
I had wanted to be a chef for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I was always volunteering to cook at family BBQs and I always helped out in the kitchen at home.
When I was fifteen I had the opportunity to do work experience at a local restaurant for a week. At the end of that week I was offered an apprenticeship as a chef. I left school immediately and started cooking professionally.
Where have you worked around the world?
I have worked in various parts of Australia, England, Norway, Fiji, the Philippines, the Maldives and now Malaysia.
Share with us an interesting story from one of your postings:
Fiji was a real eye opener. I worked on a very small island. On that island was the 18-room resort where I worked and lived, and on the other side of the island were four small villages and there was nothing else there.
All of our staff wer from those four villages, where the way of life is very simple.
Our resort was quite exclusive and our guests paid a lot of money to stay there. The contrast in the way of life of our staff and our guests was huge.
To give an example of the challenges I faced, it took me months just to get my chefs to wear shoes in the kitchen. Most of them have never worn shoes in their lives and they really didn’t want to wear them at all.
One of the guys told me about the first time that people from their island actually encountered shoes. He said that his great grandparents had just captured and cooked up some white men and when they were eating them they found that their feet were unusually tough, presumably because they were attempting to eat their shoes.
I’m still not sure if that was a true story.
It was a challenging role to say the least but it was also a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.
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?
Like most people I know, the food experience in Malaysia is one of the highlights of living here.
And yes, of course I brave the streets - that’s where the best food is. I do occasionally eat in restaurants here too, and I’ve found that the standard is quite good, but I still prefer to eat the local street food more often for the experience, variety, value and the sheer great taste of it.
As far as what I could not live without, I know that if I was to return back to Australia one day that the thing that I would miss the most would be the noodles. They are the ultimate fast food. You can get them anywhere, they are delivered to you in a flash, they are always comforting and delicious and very inexpensive.
What's your favourite Aussie dish?
Well, we don’t have too many great national dishes unfortunately, but I’m a typical Aussie who loves Vegemite on toast, a good meat pie and my grandmother’s Pavlova.
Which dish are you proud of at Westin?
I’m proud of many of our dishes at the Westin. I believe that our Chinese food at Five Sen5es is the best in town, I have not had better steak than the steak that we serve in Qba and I love our new menu in Prego.
It’s almost impossible for me to narrow it down to one dish.
What's your ideal food and wine/ liquor pairing?
There are a few; after my recent trip to Japan I have become hooked on Sake with Japanese or Korean food.
Also, I absolutely love cheese, so a great blue cheese with a nice muscat or sherry is a favourite combination.
Your perfect day off would be...
Sunny. It would start with eggs, fruit, coffee and orange juice.
There might be scuba diving involved, but there would definitely be some beach time, preferably with some cricket on the radio and a good book.
What can guests look forward to in terms of Food and Beverage at the Westin in 2013?
We have a very full calendar of events this year. All of our venues will be doing various promotions each month.
For example, in the Living Room restaurant we will be launching our new themed buffets where we will focus on the food and culture of a different Malaysian state every week, with great food, cultural performances and guest chefs from each of those states.
In Prego we will have a different themed event once a month for our Sunday brunch, Bubbalicious. Also, we will soon launch Chef Samuele’s Sensational Saturdays which will include all you can eat pasta and pizza. We will also do a few wine dinners throughout the year.
In Qba, we will also have various promotions, such as the Latin American Trilogy, where we will focus on three different South American countries over three different months. For example, in March we will focus on Argentina and we will have a special set menu focusing on food from Argentina which will be paired with Argentinean wines.
These are just a few of the events we have planned. As I mentioned before, each venue will have its own unique events each month. It’s going to be a busy and exciting year!
Thanks Chef Garth! It sounds like an exciting year ahead for the Westin. We hope to enjoy some of the happenings with you and wish you and your staff the best with all of the upcoming promotions.