Saturday, 6 December 2014

Interview with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Maison Francaise, Kuala Lumpur

french restaurants kl
Chef Thierry Le Baut, Maison Francaise

 Interview with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Maison Francaise


What's the best/ worst part of your job? 
The best: the passion -  a duty where you can never get bored. Each day is a new experience, a new challenge, a wonderful day to know new ingredients, a new technique, read and try a new experiment with food.

The worst: to be always in the kitchen. The passion that puts you there can also make you forget that somebody is waiting for you. My regrets are that I haven't spent enough time with my children,. Even if I try to have at least one hour a day with them - it's still not enough.

What's your personal favourite meal/ drink at Maison Francaise? 
People often ask me this and it's really impossible to answer when you like food so much. Maison Française has one of the best cellars I've seen. We have a wonderful list of French wines and a lot of exceptional vintages. I am from Brittany so I like a lot fish - dover sole, turboy, hake, oysters - but a good foie gras too should never be forgotten in Maison Française.


What do you see as the perfect food and wine pairing?
You can have a marvellous dinner in a place you would never expect. I travel a lot and I like to taste everything so it depends on the country and the moment. Foie gras with a sauterne, pigeon with a nice Burgundy, a ham jabugo from Spain with a Jerez wine, a ceviche in Mexico with a good Tequila, a sushi with a sake, a marvellous Chinese soup with a tea... the list goes on. 


Tell us some stories from your travels.

Once Jose Valderrama, one of the best olive oil producers in the world, came in my restaurant and presented me a olive oil “ocal” and asked me to make chocolate with it. This guy that I didn’t know, transmitted to me his passion for olive oil, and since first meeting, each time he has a crazy idea (and that happens often) he shares it with me to try to find a way to make it happen - it's a new challenge every time.

A few years ago I was in Bogota, Colombia and I went to Montserrat (a high place where you can see all of Bogota) to take a picture of the sun coming up. I heard a woman singing and she was ashamed. She thought nobody was listening to her. I saw she was cooking tamales for the banana leaf. I asked her if she could show me how to prepare them, and I started to help her. When I finished cutting finely the 5kg onions she gave me, she was so surprised that she asked me how did I do it so quickly. When she discovered I was a chef she was so amazed that she didn’t know what to do. "A chef working with me!" she exclaimed. She called all the neighbors to take photos and we all had breakfast together. 

The perfect day off would be... 
Visit a good museum, see a good show, have a good diner a good wine and a nice company...


A day in the life of a chef is... 
Working, working and more working. Try to improve always - it can be reading, looking at TV, going to the market, with a friend, with the mother of my friends - no matter what, it's always thinking about cuisine.

What do you do for fun?

Diving, riding, canoeing, skydiving, paragliding and krav maga.

What's something you'd like guests to know about Maison Francaise? 
If they don’t like a dishes, please say so in the moment. It gives me a chance to explain about the recipe and they can understand why I do it a certain way. I hate it when guests go away and are not satisfied. I am very accessible to everybody. 


How do you select your ingredients and why? 

I like to go to the market to see the products and select the freshest ones or the ones that inspire me when I smell or see them. Each day it's different. 

What's your view on the KL restaurant/ bar scene?
Kl reminds me a lot of when I arrived to Madrid 30 years ago. Spanish cooking was very good but quantity was more important than the quality. Over time however, people started to travel, to take care off themselves more. Chefs started visiting France and bringing back new concepts. The guests started to ask for new cuisine. I think in these coming years KL will see a big change in restaurants. There are already a few brave pioneers like Sainy, owner of Maison Française, opening the way for others.

What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We hope to open the swimming pool area with a good selection of tapas, wine, soft drinks and music. We want to make it a place where people can come in a moment and have time to enjoy.

What's something you'd like guests to know about Maison Francaise? 
Maison Française is a little bit of France in Malaysia. It’s a very quiet place in the centre of the city and surely the most romantic restaurant in KL. It looks just like a French house. We use French ingredients to have the same taste you can have in France


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