Today’s Chef in the Spotlight is none other than Mezze KL’s Chef de cuisine, Chef Yves Pierre Renou. Here is our interview with him.
1. Tell us about your hometown in France, chef, and what life was like growing up.
I was born in a small town called Selestat, Alsace, France (22km from the German border). We all lead very simple lives back there, and we still do up till today. I come from a big family, 7 siblings and my mother was a manager in our town’s restaurant. That’s how I started in the F&B business, by helping my mother out, before and after school – from when I was about 8 years old.
I’ve always loved cooking and the influence of my mother, of course! I was always by my mother’s side. I was a bit of a mummy’s boy actually.
3. What prompted you to relocate to Kuala Lumpur?
I had visited Kuantan 3 times before I relocated here as I had some army buddies. But I also had a friend in KL that owned a restaurant and was helping him out with the menu. I was based in Kuantan when I first arrived in Malaysia as I was helping out at a bakery. But back then, Kuantan was very backward, so I decided to try my luck in KL.
4. What do you find most exciting about KL’s burgeoning culinary scene?
I find the KL culinary scene getting more diversified than ever. A lot of local influence. Even here at Mezze, we’re doing our chicken ulam pasta with local ulam raja and cili padi.
Character of the food here and back home is completely different, there’s a lot of energy in the food in Asia. Whereas food back home is always very comforting, subdued. I hope that I am able to add the personal touch, consistency and constant improvement to our food here.
6. What changes do you see coming to this city?
More influences globally. Everything is within reach nowadays, we get hold of ingredients which we never could, 10 years ago.
7. How does your current position differ from your role at your other previous positions?
Having more opportunity with working alongside michelin-star chefs, better equipment and better ingredients. I’m very blessed that the owners at Mezze are very passionate about their food.
8. How does your city of origin affect the menus you create for Mezze?
There’s a few influences from France in the menu. The pork stew which we are currently doing for our CNY specials is one of them. Its a delicious trotter dish braised in chicken stock, green apples and sage. We call it our French Bah Kut Teh Absolutely delicious, a crowd favourite and we serve this with chinese flower roll buns. Another is our crispy tarte flambe, a typical thin crusted blanc pizza with toppings of bacon and onions.
9. What dish, item or method of preparation would you say is most representative of your years cooking in restaurants?
Actually my background is in casual french brassierie style food – typical dishes like cassoule, beef bourguinon, duck magret. Braising is my forte!
10. Your life’s journeys have taken you many places. Is there one place that you really call home?
Tengkat Tung Shin is home Can’t imagine being anywhere else but here. 10 years and counting!
11. Tell us about any kitchen catastrophes you might have had?
I was away on holiday and my previous boss, who was a pastry chef tried to make a cassoule gratin, using a microwave instead of an oven. Needless to say it was a huge disaster and he had served it to one of the local top chefs. Till today, when I see that top chef (no names mentioned) he still reminds me of it and I keep telling him that it wasn’t me that day!
12. Do you have any advice for up and coming Chefs?
Don’t count the hours!