|Chef El - Pietro Ristorante Italiano|
Chef El gives The Yum List some insight into his life as a chef and what life is really like behind the scenes.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am currently the head chef at Pietro, Ristorante Italiano. I got into the industry accidentally! I started off as a waiter and realized I didn't like the job very much. I tried many other things but soon realized that the kitchen was the place I most wanted to be.
What's the best/worst thing about working in Pietro?
The best thing about working in Pietro is the people that I get to meet and cook for. Many of our regulars are well-known corporate figures, celebrities and even top Korean actors. I also like it when we have Italian guests who come to have a taste of home and enjoy themselves.
The worst thing is when customers are too full and have no space left for my desserts... ha ha ha :-)
What's your personal favourite Malaysian meal?
Asam Pedas cooked by my mom.
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
Two years after I first started, I dyed my hair for the first time. The night shift staff had forgotten to turn off the gas and when I came in the next morning and started the griller, it burned off all of my hair! Luckily I wasn't seriously injured. I just had to take a short time off. After that incident though, I never dyed my hair again!
How do you select your ingredients and why?
I like to select ingredients other restaurants dont carry often, so as to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Mostly my top ingredients are from France, Australia and Italy. We do get seasonal fresh ingredients and it’ll be on our special menu of the day or month.
What's the best part of being a chef?
The best part of being a chef is when customers are happy with their meals.
What's your favoured food and coffee pairing?
Black and White Chocolate Moouse (Pietro's dessert) and Rubra coffee... I like this the most.
Tell us a story about one of the dishes you prepare...
I like to experiment in the kitchen with new ingredients and also challenge my team to create new dishes for our menu. Recently we added a new Asian-inspired section to our menu. This was the result of experimentation with Italian and Asian fusion. To our surprise, our regular customers liked the new dishes so much that we decided to make them part of our permanent menu.
The perfect day off... would be spending time with my family and doing outdoor activities.
What's something you'd like guests to know about the cuisine prepared at Pietro?
Our kitchen is always open to suggestions and they can always speak to me or my team on how they want their meals prepared. Provided we have the ingredients and the cooking time permits we're happy to customize. We often get special requests in advance. I guess that’s why a lot of our guests keep coming back - it's like having their own Italian kitchen.
What's your view on the KL food/ restaurant scene?
There's so much variety in KL that it makes it so much more difficult to compete - which is why we try to differentiate ourselves by the way we do things. Its not just about making sure the food is good, but also the service and making our guests feel at home and welcomed.
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
We just launched our new menu and we also added a page of Asian inspired dishes, which uses local herbs and spices to blend with classic Italian dishes.