Saturday, 28 June 2014

Interview with Chef Sazli Nazim, Gastro Sentral, Le Meridien, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Gastro Sentral, Le Meridien KL
Chef Sazli Nazim

Gastro Sentral recently hosted The Yum List to sample some of the latest creations from Chef Sazli Nazim. Here we find out a little about the new chef.


What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
My role in the property is to ensure Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur is constantly evolving in its food and beverage concept, making sure we strive to be innovative and profitable. I run the daily operations of Gastro Sentral from menu planning and development to cost monitoring and attaining feedback from guests to enhance their dining experience.

I got involved in the culinary industry by chance when I did not manage to pull through the SPM exam as expected and there was a diploma course for chef Training in Mara Institute of Technology. With no prior knowledge of the culinary scene, I hung on to my father’s motto in life “Whatever you do, do it whole heartedly. The end result will be rewarding and the passion will build up."

Tell us a little something that goes on behind the scenes.
We do a lot of research and development on our own. It is also important to find out what our guests are excited about, especially with new dining trends surfacing. At the end of the day, it is not what we want to cook but what our guests wants to eat.

What's the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part will be the challenges in this industry. The biggest challenge will be finding the concept that will cater to the intellectual and demanding diners that we have today in Malaysia. People now are more open to experiencing new flavours and they know what they want. Another challenge is finding a sustainable source to reduce the cost of production. I try to provide my guests with the highest quality of produce without incurring additional cost to the diners.
The worst part is the sacrifice that comes with the job. Most notably is the time spent without my family and children.

What's your personal favorite meal?
Having a meal with people you are comfortable with, matters most. But if I were to choose a specific place, it has to be Nasi Lemak at Kampung Baru.

Tell us a story about one of the dishes you prepare...
In the past we came up with food challenges, where one person has to consume an entire plate of one of our creations. Most recently we had the Fiery Challenge, where the dish up for challenge was extremely spicy. The guests' expressions after eating the food were priceless! This was the only challenge where we have had three winners.

What's one of the wildest things you've seen behind the scenes?
The wildest thing that I have seen would be the scene at the Culinary Competition Hall. It is something that you have to experience yourself. It's full of all the energy, determination, spirit and strong will from all the competitors.

The perfect day off would be...
... to do nothing…absolutely nothing.

The life in the day of a chef is...
... most rewarding when your guests enjoy the food you cook.

What do you do for fun?
Play pranks on my colleagues.

What's something you'd like guests to know about the cuisine prepared at Gastro Sentral?
At Gastro Sentral our cooking and dishes are not pretentious. We strive to prepare simple food with great taste and produce. It’s comfort food with a twist. Most often, the dishes that diners can relate to are the best dishes to serve.

How do you select your ingredients and why?
I try to find the most sustainable source of ingredients without compromising on the quality in order to reduce the cost of production. I try to provide my guests with the highest quality of produce without overcharging them.

What's your view on the KL restaurant scene?
The Malaysian restaurant scene, particularly in KL, has grown more towards the higher end nowadays. The diners have become more experienced and are more demanding as they have been exposed to various options. It can sometimes be challenging to cater to their expectations.

What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
There will be a new challenge at Gastro Sentral and it involves spicy minced beef, fries and nachos…look out for it!

You can take a look at some of the signature dishes served at Gastro Sentral via this link.


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