Fahdrul Hj Abd Malek
In this interview, Fahdrul Hj Abd Malek tells about his role as In this interview, Fahdrul Hj Abd Malek executive chef at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas.
What do you do?
I am the Executive Chef at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas. I am responsible for the overall culinary operations, new food concepts, menu planning and ensuring nothing but the best quality is served at each restaurant in the resort.
How did you get into the industry?
I grew up in a family of various culinary artists. I got my inspiration for food and cooking from my brothers, who were executive chefs and that inspired me to also become a chef. I started my career in the stewarding department, and after one year, transferred to the kitchen department. From there, I started to develop a passion for food. I have advanced in my career through determination, positivity and hard work. I am always challenging myself to be successful in this journey.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
My most recent behind the scenes experience was when I was a part of the first F1 Gala Dinner Culinary Team at Mandarin Oriental, Hotel Kuala Lumpur. I prepared the dishes for famous F1 drivers and VIP guests from all around the world. This is one of the most memorable experiences I have had in my culinary journey.
What’s a food memory from your childhood or travels that stands out?
All the food that was prepared by my mom. Nothing can ever challenge her cooking. As a chef, I travel with my family for food. We are foodies.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part would be looking at the smiles on the guests’ faces after eating my food creation. The worst part is when I don’t have time to spend with my family, especially during high occupancy and back-to-back events in the hotel.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
My Mom’s “Masak Lemak Cili Api Ikan Masin with Nenas” (coconut milk, chilli, salted fish with pineapple) and iced water.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
The craziest one was when I had to witness a fight in the kitchen. They were fighting with tandoori skewers. Fortunately, no one got seriously hurt. They do say that chefs are hot-tempered. That is the craziest so far.
The perfect day off would be…
Spending quality time with my wife and my three children aged between 13 and 16 years old, enjoying cooking for my family and exploring new restaurants and different cuisines.
A day in the life of an executive chef Fahdrul Hj Abd Malek is…
My day starts with me checking the events of the day and ensuring that all ingredients are sufficient, delegating tasks to different section heads, holding briefings, attending meetings and walking the restaurants during meal times to meet guests and get feedback.
What do you do for fun?
I spend time with my family members in my kitchen area at home. Every time we have a family gathering, my wife and I will prepare different dishes.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Anantara Desaru?
We are looking to improve our sustainability credentials by using local produce and indigenous flavours.
How has the pandemic changed you, your perspective, or the way you operate?
The pandemic has not affected me as a person, but it has changed my view of the way the hotel industry operates effectively.
What’s something you’d like people to know about being a chef as a profession?
We are not celebrities in the kitchen. Most of us spend long hours in the kitchen, cooking to deliver the best gastronomic experience possible to our guests. We need to always be creative to deliver the most flavourful experience in every bite and stay ahead of the game. If you care at all about food, you should always cook what you love and love what you cook.
What’s your view on the hotel industry on Desaru Coast?
It is competitive yet friendly among the hotels on Desaru Coast. We all strive to outdo each other in terms of concept but are happy to help out each other when we are short of supplies. The hotel scene here is poised for growth as per the government’s aim to make Desaru Coast into a successful destination like Langkawi.
What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement in the future to work towards social responsibility and sustainability?
I am tasked with shaping the food philosophy and delivering a new menu strategy for the restaurant and bars to reflect the unique character of each outlet whilst bringing sustainability and seasonality to the fore. Sourcing products from local fishermen and farmers is key to making delicious, seasonal food. We are looking to improve our sustainability credentials by using local produce and indigenous flavours.