The Yum List interviews Chef Evert Onderbeke of Soleil in DC Mall.
What do you do and how did you get in the industry
I’m the head chef and co-founder of Soleil, which first opened in Petaling Jaya but has since moved (last December) to Damansara City Mall. I was attracted to the F&B industry from a young age and after graduating from hotel school started working as a chef at the age of 19 and still continue to enjoy doing so now.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
When I just arrived to Malaysia I ruled the kitchen as I was trained in Europe. I was strict, with a lot of pressure and sometimes yelling. Soon I ended up with almost no more staff and got the label as crazy chef. After understanding Malaysian culture, however, I calmed down a lot and I’m sure that’s a good thing.
What’s the best/worst part of your job?
The best part is the satisfaction I get from seeing guests enjoying as result of our hard work.
The worst part is that we sometimes don’t get enough sleep or free time to spend with our family and friends.
What’s your favourite meal/drink in Soleil?
My favourite drink is our own Soleil beer imported from Belgium, refreshing after a hard day working. My favourite dish is the Hokkaido scallops with tagliatelle and cod roe butter. It’s quality, simple and delicious.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
The craziest experience for me was cooking behind the scenes of Koh Lanta, the French version of Survivor in the jungle of a Malaysian island. It was very hot, equipment was very limited and the contestants were not supped to know we were there. The purpose was a decent meal as a reward for two of the contestants.
The perfect day off would be…
spending time with friends, eating, drinking and catching up.
A day in the life of a chef is…
hard work, with ups and downs but satisfying if we have happy guests.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy playing pool in the pub, as it relaxes me a lot as we play for fun.
Traveling when I can is my favourite escape from daily routines.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Soleil?
That we are now selling our wines at retail price either to take away or to enjoy in our restaurant with your meal. If you buy by the case, the price becomes even more interesting.
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
Delicate seafood dishes with Burgundy chardonnay, especially Meursault.
Cheese and red wine, a match made in heaven!
What’s your view on the food scene in Kuala Lumpur?
I believe we are lucky as there is so much variety in KL. Fine dining restaurants are limited though because of different issues. Changes will be necessary to have stand out top restaurants.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Christmas and New Year will be busy and exciting and we are constantly working on new promotions and events. We will also feature an interesting guest chef to do a series of four hand dinners… more news on this coming soon!