|Chef Ryan Arboleda, The Club, Saujana Resort and Hotel|
Interview with Chef Ryan Arboleda, The Club Saujana Resort
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am Chef De Cuisine at The Restaurant, The Club Saujana Resort. My specialty is Asian European cuisine. My father is and has been an Executive Pastry Chef for nearly 30 years, he was really the main reason I became a chef. At the age of 18 I enrolled in culinary school in Auckland, New Zealand. While studying I also worked for a few hotels as an Apprentice Chef (which lasted around 3 years).
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
This story happened when I worked with a celebrity and Michelin-starred chef in New Zealand. (Later down the track I was promoted to be his sous chef). Basically one day whilst running the kitchen he came in and threw me a new a la carte menu. He said I had to change the whole menu. He gave me this at 9am when we already had confirmed bookings of 100 pax and a chef kitchen table for 10 pax that day. Also I only had one senior chef and five trainees (with most of them still on their first week of employment). If that wasn’t bad enough, he also threw another curve ball and said to me that half a carcass of mountain lamb hasn't come in yet and will arrive at 3pm, which I had to prep and bone! It was definitely the hardest test I have ever experienced and I never want to go through it again. (I won’t go into the details of that service, hahaha). :)
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
As a chef you must sacrifice your personal life. You don’t have a social life, get to see your family or partner during the holidays, and miss out on birthdays. Your entire time is spent in the kitchen with your staff and cooking for other families. The hours are long and can be very stressful at times. The best thing about being a chef is you get to travel and discover different cultures and meet a lot of people along the way. Creating new dishes and seeing customers smile and appreciate the hard work you put in a dish is what makes you get up every day.
What's your favourite meal/ drink The Restaurant?
The lobster Khoa Soi which is a traditional soup dish from northern Thailand is one of my favourites. I make it with Canadian lobster. It’s more fancy but the flavours are very unique and it is best paired with New Zealand, Marlborough Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014, due to its fruity and crispy acidity, which compliments the spiciness of the dish.
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
At culinary school one apprentice chef did not tie her hair up while she was using the Hobart mixer for making breads. When she turned her head around to ask another chef a question her hair got caught on to the mixer. Well you can imagine what happened!! So the rule is to everyone out there working in a commercial kitchen if you have long hair make sure you tie your hair up and wear a hat!
The perfect day off would be...
Spending time with my partner and discovering the country with its cuisine and culture. Enjoying a great brunch at a well-known restaurant or hotel too is a good feeling really.
A day in the life of a chef is...
Every day is different. You may get up at 5am to do a breakfast shift after that make sure lunch service runs smoothly, make sure the staff are well informed for the day’s events. Training one-on-one is a major factor in my kitchen. There will always be paperwork to be done (I must say non-stop) and then making sure dinner service runs smoothly. The day may end at 10pm or may end at 2am. It will never be the same.
What do you do for fun?
Travel - discover the current city. Go out - discover the hottest restaurants and have dinner, spend time out with friends or just stay home and cook dinner for the family and watch rugby.
What's something you'd like guests to know about The Restaurant?
The Restaurant at The Club has made some changes with the food we offer. We’re now moving towards contemporary European cuisine and enhancing those techniques and flavors with Asian ingredients and incorporating traditional Asian dishes. We always listen to our guests’ needs and make sure we deliver their expectations. So now our promotions are all about variety. Our guests can enjoy the classics but at the same time have an adventure with something they haven't tried before. We even do custom menus or just a chef’s menu surprise. We accommodate to our guests’ needs - so look out for our monthly promotions. There's always something to look forward to.
What's your favourite(s) food and wine pairing?
For me it’s a simple steak, fresh seasonal vegetables with a rich sauce and a smooth merlot.
What's your view on the Kuala Lumpur food scene?
It is very international and moving up very fast with the expats. The restaurant scene in KL is very trendy and hip and as a chef for me it’s exciting because you can never get bored when you have a great variety of establishments that are pushing boundaries. Definitely a very good sign that KL is and will always be a culinary hot spot, which will be internationally recognized!
What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We will be having more promotions to advertise our food and style. Basically, we will be sourcing not just local ingredients but imported ingredients as well that are very high in quality and as a chef it is very exciting to be working with ingredients that inspire you to create dishes that some guests have never tried. Our current promotion for September looks in depth at traditional Asian dishes using modern techniques to enhance the flavours and presentation.
Check out some of chef Ryan’s delicious dishes via this link.