We recently met Michelin guide accredited Chef Andrew Blundy, responsible for “Bring Me Food” at the Italian restaurant at DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, called Tosca. This Modern Italian promotion goes on from the 22nd October – 30th November, featuring Chef Blundy who has had more than 25 years of experience under his belt. “Bring Me Food” is a traditional family-style dining in Italy that allows diners to share, taste and sample a variety of dishes with friends and family and you still have time to catch Chef Blundy as “Bring Me Food” ends, end of this month.
I left school at the age of 15 and went to work in a Greek restaurant as part of a work experience scheme. I had always been interested in cooking watching my grandmother and aunties cooking and helping out when I could, so the natural progression was to work in a kitchen and find out if I liked it. This was a long time ago, way before cooking was regarded as professional and cooks were regarded as unskilled labor. There were no cooking programs or “celebrity” chefs at that time and the best cookery program was the roux brothers cooking stuff I couldn’t even pronounce let alone aspire to. I remember my first day vividly at Diomedies restaurant, first thing in the morning Diomedies wife came down to check me over and the one thing she said was “don’t become a cook, you will lose all of your friends, you will have no life and the hours are never ending” by the end of that week I loved it and knew that that was what I wanted to do.
2. Can you tell us about another skill that you have, that no one knows of?
I have many skills up my sleeve, some people no some of them and others know the rest. I used to be a pretty good DJ.
3. We all know that running a kitchen can be super stressful so how do you de-stress and let rip after a hard day’s work?
Very loud drum and bass, a very powerful motorbike and a good bendy road, if that doesn’t put a smile on your face you may as well be dead.
4. Do you have any hobbies?
I like to read and i like to listen to music, all kinds of different music from classical to Hardcore dance, it depends on my mood but mostly reggae.
5. What brought you to Malaysia?
A old fiend asked for help, I had given up on working internationally and wanted to put down roots back home, along came a call from my friend and it was a no brainer and i was out here within two weeks. Friends are friends and they are the most important thing in life alongside family but good friends are family.
6. By the way, I’m curious as to who is your favourite Cook/Chef and why?
There are two chefs that I aspire to, Marco pier white, this guy is a legend he can cook like no other with a true understanding of form and texture and a finesse that bought him every accolade. And juxtaposed is Thomas Keller this man is the full package, a sublime cook with the lightness of touch and the depth of technique that is truly immense, together with a philosophy that encapsulates every thing i hold dear in this profession, a master chef and one of the most thoughtful minds in the industry. Both true legends!
7. What is your favourite travel destination for food?
This is a very thought provoking question, India is great and there are very many times I have enjoyed both the exotic surroundings and the company along with the food, but my favorite is a good pub in England with friends and a fantastic steak and kidney pie. Its not that exotic I know but its my favorite.
8. Tell us about The Fox, and how you/ the restaurant got its Michelin star.
I was working in Sharm el Shiek Egypt at the time of the revolution and the then president Mubarak was being held under house arrest in our sister hotel, it was a terrible time to witness as everybody started turning go everybody else, jostling for what they could get out of the new found freedom. My presence there was considered a security risk so I had to return to the UK. So I arrived back in the UK at 2am and as my phone and computers were down I had no chance to arrange a pick up. I phoned a friend to come get me and decided to stay in the village to get my breath back and take a week or so to take stock.
The first day I decided to check out the local pub (The Fox) as it had a reputation for good food, lunch was good and I talked to the owner who had time because the lunch was quiet and told him of my adventures in Egypt. I bump into the owner of the fox again and he offers me a job in his kitchen. One fine day towards the end of summer the boss walked back into the kitchen gesturing over his shoulder and introduced the man from the Michelin guide who wanted to ask me some questions, he had had a chicken liver parfait and a omelet, the only reason omelet’s were on the menu was because our flock of hens were kicking out more eggs than we knew what to do with. This guy talks for a few minuets and said that it was refreshing to eat at palace that was so unpretentious to offer a simple omelet for lunch, which is precisely what most people want. Three months later the red book comes out and we are there as Inspectors favorite and one to watch, as Michelin never give out stars for the first year , I think we did pretty well.
9. What was your biggest catastrophe in the kitchen?
Working in Africa cooking for some big wig when the stoves went down and having to build barbecues in the kitchen to cook from, lots of smoke and total panic but we got through.
10. Do you have any advice for budding cooks/aspiring chefs?
On cooking, if its brown its cooked, if its black its fucked. on working with other chefs, listen, think and only ask questions that are sensible.
11. What is your favorite recipe and why?
A perfectly cooked egg, simplicity in its self, one ingredient cooked to perfection is a truly magnificent thing.
12. Do you think that the old “use it or lose it” axiom holds true for cooking?
No, when you understand something and like its results that understanding does not go away, 20 years from now you will still be able to cook your comfort food even if you don’t cook it in all of that time, it’s like riding a bike.
13. Do people cling to or seek out gourmet food when times are bad and the economy shaky? Do they use food as a security blanket?
I can only speak for myself here, food is quintessentially part of us and everyday living we are on this planet to survive and to procreate, to survive we must nourish our bodies and as we learn through life food can be just that, a nourishment alone or a fantastic enjoyment of that which we must do to sustain our lives. When you learn how to cook one must also try to cook better, it is only this that elevates the humble act of cooking to another level. Intrinsically we eat to survive, that pleasure that well cooked food brings is true either in good times or bad, good food should be a benchmark all of us try too attain, why settle for second best?
14. Do u think fine-dining restaurants has raised people’s standards as a whole of what they will and will not eat?
I know that people expectations have risen massively in the last 10 years world wide and the entire industry has become “fashionable” this has created a huge interest in cooking and chefs however I believe that as much good as it has done to create an interest in food and how we nourish ourselves it has bought an equal amount of vapid ideas and a rock star culture to the kitchen. The ‘Jamie Oliver affect’ has opened the eyes of many to good food and now to eat, however the pseudo rock star chef with his bumptiousness has sullied the kitchen to such a degree that I find it nauseating.
15. Has it affected the restaurant industry?
Yes, there are many fantastic cooks that have been able to thrive in this new epicurean environment and bring to the forefront fantastic foods from around the world and chefs that stand tall on the shoulders of those great chefs that have gone before them and we truly live in a world that is multicultural and fantastic when it is lived in cities around the world with a difference and diverse range of ingredients available to cooks of every persuasion truly makes for a acceleration of good food around the world. However the celebrity chef is a abomination that I hope will die a horrible death, we are cooks, one and all our purpose is to bring food to the tables of our patrons and to strive to cook better, let us as cooks not lose sight of that and be carried away pretending to be something that we are not.