|Chef Ray Chen|
Interview with Chef Ray Chen, La Casa, Mont Kiara
How did it all start?
With my mother. My mother worked as a cook in a hospital and she cooked for our family for every meal. I started helping out my mom at a young age and became her best assistant ever since. I can still vividly remember how I cooked a bowl of fried rice for my dad. The look and smile he had on his face was one of the reasons I started immersing myself into cooking.
What's one of the craziest things that has happened at work?
I was interning in a kitchen in Toulouse, France. It happened on a extremely busy service night. Crowds were coming in and the kitchen didn’t even stop. All of a sudden, the Exec chef burst out and grabbed all the orders that were at the pass. He just threw it all into the air as if they were cash. The whole kitchen stopped and for a moment everyone looked at him. In the end, he had to pick up all the orders and sort it out by himself. That was on a busy service with full house. But I guess everyone has their own limit.
What the best part and worst part of the job?
The best moment in my job is after a successful event or a busy service. You will have the satisfaction of completing a good job. Especially when everyone on the team has worked together, having a little bit of fun throughout the event.
The worst part of the job is when I send the food to the table and, instead of enjoying the food guests whip out their phone or camera and start taking photos. A photo is understandable but with all the time they spend on taking the photo, the food is getting cold.
What's your favourite dish at La Casa?
Duck confit. I always enjoy a good serving of duck confit. The long hours and efforts given into this dish are worth it - especially when the dish is drizzled with good aged balsamic vinegar. The aged balsamic compliments and enhances the saltiness of the duck.
What's your idea of the perfect day off?
My perfect day off is tending to the small herbs and vegetables garden I have at home. I have planted herbs and local spices and some local vegetables. Just tending to the little garden make me appreciate all the good vegetables and herbs which started from just a tiny seed. I appreciate even more the time and effort given by our local farmers and growers so we all can enjoy such products.
A day in a chef’s life is...
It all starts with a good cup of coffee. Checking the inventory and products every morning is a must. I will have to make sure all the ordering is done before afternoon. Paperwork and menu planning is certainly a compulsory task of the day. But at end of the day, I will take some time just to talk with the team, to create understanding among us and make them know they are appreciated.
What’s something you'd like guests to know about La Casa?
The team at La Casa spend much time and effort in preparing our dishes from scratch. Soon La Casa will be have a small bakery corner offering a variety of breads and pastries, so even those will all be made in house. We will be extending our opening hours and breakfast will soon be available.
What is your view on KL food scene?
The KL food scene is just like fashion. People chase food like fashion trends. In the past few years, you can see an obvious food trend such as macaron and burgers. During this trend, undoubtedly you will see a mushroom of cafes and restaurants following the trend. But in the end, the classical and traditional dishes will be there to stay. There is a reason these dishes survived hundreds of years in history.