Mandy Goh has just taken over the kitchen at ATAS at the RuMa Hotel and Residences, presenting her style of cuisine that is distinctively hers. The Penang-born chef has created two menus, a Contemporary menu and the local Cultural Heritage menu. We speak to her to find out more about her background and influences, including Rasmus Kofoed of Geranium.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I started my French cuisine background with Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, but I also staged with Bocuse d’Or previously. I also worked for Guy Savoy in Singapore. I worked for him for one year which helped me greatly. From there I also learned with Italian cuisine, Portuguese cuisine, and steakhouse cooking. From there I moved into fine dining cuisine. I found that I loved French cuisine, especially the cooking techniques which I found to be a strong base of mine. But I don’t like the portion for French food, it’s too huge for me, especially for Asians. I found that initially it was hard for me to apply that for the Asian market. So, I slowly adapted my technique, an advantage of mine working with French chefs, and made it more Asian style in smaller portions.
What flavours influence your cuisine?
I always use a lot of acidic vegetable components in my food. I find that to be very important. It’s like pairing like wine with the dishes. I feel vegetables are a very good component to balance the richness of protein, especially when we are doing a long journey. I tried a menu with 35 courses once and by course 12 I stopped enjoying the food, I was only finishing it because I already paid for it, there was no more enjoyment. So, I lean towards combinations that brings natural flavours and acidity.
What is your philosophy when it comes to your cuisine?
Natural flavours. I like to minimize waste and I use most of the parts possible. I come from a hotel background where there is always a lot of waste, especially when it comes to buffet and banquets. When I started working at Marriot, I started measuring how much waste there was from the breakfast buffet. The numbers were alarming, a few thousand kilos of wastage every month. It’s so sad to know that there are people struggling to find a meal and me as a chef, I try to do everything I can to utilise all parts of the animals, protein, and vegetables in different ways. Of course, I want to also maintain original and natural flavours.
Which culinary figure has influenced your career the most?
Rasmus Kofoed of Geranium. I met him at the Bocuse d’Or competition. I met him in Leon when he won the gold trophy. The satisfaction from his smile was different, it was a certain happiness. So I started the research about him, how he participated in the Bocuse d’Or. When he won the gold award it was his third time he participating. He had won from bronze to silver to gold. He spent almost 7 years to get that achievement. So for me, its suffering and hard work. It doesn’t just come overnight. You have to put so much effort into it. Although I’ve only briefly met him once, I’ve never eaten at his restaurant, but I still follow his work closely with how he utilises all natural products, vegetables at restaurant. That is the thing that really inspired me.
Can you tell us a bit about the current concept?
The current concept focusing on just ATAS itself. The entire hotel and restaurant itself is very Malaysian in style and design, but in a modern way, so this really spoke to me, like how my cuisine is European, but also as a Malaysian, I wanted to present a different kind of menu. It’s basically my background in European cuisine, and I also wanted to present something that represents my country. This is why we have two menus, a Contemporary menu which is European focused, and a Cultural Heritage menu based on local flavours.
Tell us something unique about your cuisine that many might not know.
If you mentioned natural flavour, the menu has a lot of ingredients with different kind of components for each dish. Like for example, the pumpkin jus. All these things are a unique space for preparation. Fermentation features throughout my entire menu. We use every part of the animal and vegetables.
Is there an ingredient you like using the most?
I like lots of acid and fruits. Recently I found that pumpkin is one of my favourites. It has a natural sweetness. I use the natural sugars in the pumpkin for the soup, so I don’t add any sugar. In a way it also saves my costings too.
Describe Mandy Goh on a plate. What would I expect to see on that plate?
I think most likely you will see more ice cream. I like to do a lot of ice cream, not only for sweets, but more as savouries. I have a menu at the Lounge at the Library made entirely of ice cream, an ice cream afternoon tea. I find that savouries can be so unique and is perfect for our weather.
The RuMa Hotel & Residences
7, Jalan Kia Peng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2778 0888
Tuesday to Sunday, 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm; 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm
| PHOTOGRAPHY: ATAS | WEBSITE: ATAS |