Michel Eschmann, Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

What do you do and how did you get into the industry?

I was in my mid-teens, growing up in Switzerland and as is the custom there at that age, I needed to take up an apprenticeship. I didn’t really have any clear idea of what I wanted to do, but a nearby restaurant was run by a family friend so it seemed like an easy choice. It was a small restaurant, perhaps only 90 seats but it was fine dining. I didn’t know what to expect but when I started working there, something about it caught my fancy. Perhaps it was the creativity working with food and with my hands.

After several years of enriching experiences at key international establishments and top rate hotels, including Michelin-starred restaurants, I joined the Hyatt family in 2009 at Chef de Cuisine of VUE at Hyatt on the Bund, Shanghai. In 2011, I was appointed as Chef de Cuisine at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok where I led the culinary team of Tables Grill, Bangkok’s first European restaurant with tableside cooking. In June this year, I look the next step, joining Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur as its Executive Sous Chef, overseeing operations in the hotel’s acclaimed THIRTY8 restaurant.

What’s the best / worst part of your job?

The best part is to work with people, which can also be sometimes the worst.

What’s your favourite meal / drink?

I like simple, well-prepared basic dishes and any properly made drink or cocktail. I love the ‘Old Fashioned’ at J Boroski in Bangkok.

What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?

I have sure seen a lot with the chefs I worked with during my apprenticeship. I saw one chef went unconscious because he was so angry and he burnt his hand with a hot pan. Another one was too nervous before the service hour and fainted, so I had to call the ambulance.

The perfect day off would be…

… to completely switch off the mind and read an inspiring book at home.

A day in the life of a chef is…

… full of emotions and challenges, yet creative and fun.

What do you do for fun?

I love this city because it’s rich with good eateries, cafés and bars. I enjoy going on a gastronomical adventure and trying out food and drinks at different outlets because it expands my horizons, encourages creative growth and allows me to derive new inspirations.

What’s something you’d like guests to know about THIRTY8?

THIRTY8 is really an experience for all the senses. The views, the open show kitchens, the eclectic cuisines, tableside food preparation… it’s all very theatrical. I see it as a place to entertain and be entertained, in a culinary sense. We have such an exciting mix of guests who dine with us and no two days here are ever the same. There’s just so much great energy here.

Also, at THIRTY8 and Hyatt in general, quality is key. We don’t take shortcuts, we don’t compromise and we don’t neglect the details. We do the basics right and everything else follows from that. As for the team, while we work hard, we still care for each other and have fun in the process.

What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?

Duck liver terrine and Gewürztraminer.

What’s your view on the Kuala Lumpur food scene?

Kuala Lumpur is a gastronomic paradise. The food scene is eclectic and fun but it’s still evolving. There are more ‘approachable’ restaurants now, more casual fine dining restaurants where the cuisine is also lighter in appearance. Another big thing is sourcing… Farm to table for example; people are more and more conscious about what they are eating and where their food comes from and so are the chefs in choosing the right ingredients. Highlighting sustainable seafood for instance, this will not just be a trend, it’s a lifestyle.

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?

Lots of exciting menu changes and promotions like Build Your Own Burger by the pool, sustainable seafood throughout the whole hotel and several other initiatives.

For a look at some of chef Michel’s creations at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur follow this link.

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