Interview with Chef Nathalie Arbefeuille

Those of you who have seen this post, know that Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio, is the new buzz word on the street. Me, I know Nathalie personally because she was once my baking teacher. Yes, Ciki actually bakes and cooks, though she claims she does not, because anyone can cook really, for survival, but not everyone can COOK;)

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Anyway, there is no denying that Nathalie Arbefeuille has made a name for herself in the industry by pushing the boundaries of normality in cuisine preparation. In less than 6 months she has accomplished this by creating her own recipes from her childhood memories, inventing variations of the good old classics and presenting her food with great precision and finesse. Nathalie and her husband spent the better part of 12 years in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, giving cooking classes and catering for receptions of various embassies, companies, and private gatherings. She published her first book “Cuisine Passion” in 2007, where she shares her passion for refined food but there is a new surprise in store for her fans!

One of my close friends once said that dining at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio is like being invited by ‘A Proud Husband’ to his home, where he show cases his wife’s talents in producing the most exquisite meal for an intimate gathering of friends. This is indeed the concept of the restaurant and you will not leave without having felt the personalized feminine touches on your plate, from the hostess herself.

Here is Cumi & Ciki’s Interview with that lovely lady..

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C&C: Hi Nathalie! I think from the look of things and reviews on our local food blogs, people in KL really love your food. But, just out of curiosity, what kind of food do you like?

N: Ah, I really don’t have expensive taste. Fine dining.. what is that? It’s just a term. If I have to chose one person’s cooking in KL where me and my husband like to get away and unwind, it would be Michael’s cooking , you know the Chef at Senses, KL Hilton? I also like Alexis, Nero Teca and Pinchos Tapas Bar. As a general rule I love delicate flavours employing good ingredients i.e. classic fine food.

C&C: Your restaurant, Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio is gorgeous! You obviously spent a lot on the ID?

N: Actually no because I was really lucky. De Dietrich (DD) was looking for someone good to represent them. When we were introduced, they immediately decided that they wanted “Nathalie’s” to be the face of DD. So everything you see here, i.e. the Kitchen and Appliances are sponsored by DD. Likewise the design. Bofi sponsored 40% of the cost of my shop’s design!

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C&C: When did you realise that you had a passion for cooking and baking?

N:When I was a little girl growing up in France, cooking for an entire family was the norm. Even at the age of 12, I could single handedly prepare a whole meal, from starters, right up to dessert, for my family. This is an inborn skill that I cultivated from a young age. Of course growing up in France with access to fresh produce and ingredients really helped. Also, I learned to imitate what my palate loved in other peoples cooking, form that young age. I guess it has stuck with me throughout the years.

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C&C: Tell us a bit about how you came to Malaysia.

N: When my husband set up his own telco company in Malaysia it seemed like the logical progression of events to finally set up my own studio. Before this both me and my husband were already familiar with Malaysia because his old company posted him here before. Back then I already knew I had an affinity for this place. I mean, what’s there not to like about Malaysia? We adored the easy lifestyle in KL. The economy in France at the moment is really bad. Opening Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio has been the best thing to happen to me!

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C&C: You use to work, small time industry style like bake and cater from home right, even in France. When was the turning point in your career?

N: 8 years ago, I met the only 3 Michelin star lady Chef from France, the lovely Anne-Sophie and we hit it off straight away. She is a close friend of mine now and training and learning from her during that time in France has been invaluable to me and really shapes and defines the Chef that I am today. If I was good at cooking and baking before, those years spent with Anne-Sophie fine tuned my skills and took it up a notch higher. I owe a lot to her!

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C&C: Yes, Anne-Sophie’s reputation as a Chef as well as her cook books are somewhat of a legend. Do you plan to publish a book of your own?

N: Yes, as a matter of fact by next month, I would have two! The one that my customers usually see around our restaurant is the first – “Cuisine Passion” , but by the month of August, my new one “Cocktail Passion” will be launched. It is all about how to ‘wow’ your guests with Finger food!

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C&C: What do you think of the Macaron craze that is taking Asia by storm?

N: (she gently laughs) well, it’s all the rave now, isn’t it? They were oh so fashionable in France to begin with, then Japan when ga-ga over it. Now Singapore, Malaysia.. all I can say is that there are Macaron and then there are Macaron! Choose wisely. I teach baking class as you may know, but even then, I only reveal the entire recipe for 3 types of Macaron. Since then my recipe has been copied, sometimes rather badly and then cheekily passed off as someone else’s own(no names mentioned)  but you know, I am not too worried.

C&C: Why is that?

N: Well because over here, we can make 32 types of different Macaron! So imitate away, but if you want the best selection of flavours with the highest quality in ingredients (I am talking all 100% natural right down the the coloring that comes from France) then please come to Nathalie’s!

C&C: One final question, advice for young entrepreneur chefs/bakers?

N: You need to have talent. And you need to be different, to have that cutting edge. There is no point being the same as the other kid on the block because that’s just being plain predictable. People say hard work is important and that is true as well – on average I sleep maybe 4 hours a day! However, without talent you cannot improvise or be different. Being different is what sets you part and makes your mark in the industry.

C&C: Thank you Nathalie.It’s been a pleasure chatting with you!

N: Likewise, thanks for your time!

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Footnote: If you would like to see what Nathalie means by delicate, fine food, please go  HERE. These days, it’s no wonder she sleeps only 4 hours a day.  If she’s not cooking in the kitchen, she’s baking to meet massive orders. Fortunately her team of 6 are incredibly efficient. It takes 5-6hrs to make a batch of Macaron and they just completed an order for 800! Go figure;)

Add:

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio
A-4-1-5 Dutamas Solaris,
Jalan Dutamas, 50490 Kuala Lumpur.
T: 603 62079572

Comments

  1. paranoidandroid says:

    Ah. What a delightful insight to this petite and adorable chef. Lovely pics too. Captured the mood beautifully.

  2. I would love to go to this restaurant. It looks so sleek and sophisticated. I bet the food is outstanding!

  3. Always good to see the in’s and outs from the chefs of Malaysia!

  4. Nice B&W photos.
    It is always inspiring to hear about people being so passionate on their take of live.

  5. another enlightening interview! viva la nathalie! (oops, that’s spanish, rite … or is it italian) :D

  6. you actually interviewed her??? I could only take a picture of her :P

  7. Nice black and white photo on display here … thumbs up …

  8. Nice post. I didn’t get to try out the restaurant when I was back because they don’t open for dinner (why??!!) but I got given a box of her macarons. Needless to say, the jeans are a bit tighter now.

  9. Great interview and beautiful photos!

    We are loving the macarons here in France & look forward to trying them when we get to Malaysia this fall!

  10. I would go macaroni over the opportunity to eat a macaron at Nathalie’s restaurant. Great article and interview.

  11. Cool interview! :)
    (Wow. Didn’t know there are so many different types of Macarons….)

  12. see, arentcha glad you came with me for her class? arentcha arentcha?

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