What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
My grandfather loved cooking. When I was little, I used to watch him cooking up a storm for the family. With steam coming from the pots and fragrances embracing the house, I was always fascinated by how he manoeuvred around the kitchen while educating me on all the ingredients and spices he used. I learned a lot from him and this basically set my fundamental interests in cooking and later led me to venture into the industry.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
When I was with Grand Hyatt Santiago, we played a prank on the Floor Manager who loved picking food off the dishes. One day, we made special Puta Parió (very spicy) chutney disguised as Guacamole served on toasted bread. He obviously took the bait and couldn’t speak for hours.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
Compliments and the faces of satisfied palates from the diners are the best part of the job. The same goes for the worst when you hear complaints, unfinished food and grunting faces.
What’s your personal favourite meal/ drink in the La Cucina?
I love the latte they prepare here. The barista has managed to craft it to a very silky and smooth finish complementing the aromatic coffee fragrance. As for the dish, I can’t help but brag about the OP rib we prepare here over the live cooking station. The steak is cooked in a way that it is moist and soft in the middle with mildly charred external layer with a perfect medium rare doneness. Yum!
What’s one of the scariest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
A head chef of a restaurant I worked with in Argentina hit and broke a 1-meter long wooden spoon on my back when I burnt the chocolate sauce. In all the kitchens I have worked with, they are always fast-paced and intense. We have to be on full focus and alert at all times.
The perfect day off would be…
… diving and appreciating the marine life in open waters. Malaysia has some really wonderful marine life.
A day in the life of a chef is…
… running through different kitchens, guiding staff, sourcing ingredients, delegating tasks, speaking to guests and restaurant owners/managers, getting inspirations and making sure all the above tasks bring one ultimate objective – satisfaction of the diners.
What do you do for fun?
Diving, travelling, barbeque gatherings and massages. I am very much a simple guy like any other who loves nature and a little bit of adventure and fun out of the kitchen.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about La Cucina?
La Cucina has a live cooking station right in the middle of the seating. Diners are able to see how my team and I prepare their food. We are talking about live interactions, real responses and immediate attention. It is not the usual live cooking station you see in other restaurants where they are actually behind glass panels. Diners, if brave enough, can even stand next to the chef to see how their food is cooked. Of course, I wouldn’t encourage that as I mentioned earlier, the kitchen is an intense zone no matter if it’s in front of or behind the scenes.
What’s your favourite (s) food and wine pairing?
It has to be Malbec with Argentinian asado. Nothing beats the combination of these over a barbeque session with good friends, mindless yet meaningful conversations and laughters. Or, just alfajores – these Argentinian sweets are my comfort food.
What’s your view on the Kuala Lumpur food scene?
The culinary scene in Kuala Lumpur is definitely growing and is opening to a greater variety of cuisines. When it comes to foreign cuisines, it was normally dominated by Italian, French, Japanese or American restaurants but you can obviously see more options now – ranging from Peruvian, Argentinian, and Chilean. One thing however that it is almost impossible to find authentic restaurants and they are normally adapted to local palates. It is understandable and it is not only in Malaysia. The important thing is that the nation and people living in this country have more alternatives.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
I am trying to implement and introduce more new flavours and new dishes to La Cucina diners, thus we have launched the new menu. We are playing a bit more, adding South American flavours into the dishes too. Other than that, together with the hotel’s team, we are working on a guest chef series where we invite renowned chefs as an effort to get more attention from the public.