MYANMORE sits down with Chef Fabien Simon, who will be working his magic to introduce New Zealand products to Yangon in Chef Du Moment event at Le Cellier Wine Bar and Restaurant, Novotel Yangon Max today (October 11) from 6 p.m. – 10.30 p.m.
Q: When did you realize that you wanted to be a chef?
A: It is definitely from my parents. My ultimate goal in my life was to be an aviator. However, I was not very a disciplined student at school. There was a thing that I was being involved in –making simple dishes with my mom. I started hospitality school when I was 16. I enjoy it so much. It was not a duty to learn, but because I love it. After studying for four years, I got a chance to work in great hotels. I was able to travel overseas. In the UK, it was a great experience. It’s where I started picking up my English. Cooking is one thing but traveling, you need to have the skill of communication. It was a chance for me to be able to learn another language.
Q: What are your signature dishes and ingredients that you use the most when cooking?
A: I don’t have signature dishes because I find it very hard to dissociate beef or lamb. I love everything. I love cooking the meat, fish and seafood. If it would be one thing I could not stop eating, it would be butter and bread-as simple as it is. Every French people love butter and bread or pizza and croissant. My signature dish would be bread and butter.
Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
A: The way I see food, firstly, quality. We are striving for better quality rather than cheap stuff—the quality of the food and the simplicity of it. My day-to-day restaurant would be something very casual, well seasoned, and well-sourced with devoted staff in the kitchen and all in the service. In the restaurant world, we need to care about our farmers and suppliers. If we cook the steak, it will be consumed within an hour, but the one who was raising the beef, it was the whole year round. You need to care about these people.
What I value much is the people who work around us. For me, it is the most important thing. You cannot be a great individual, a master individual, if you are not able to share your knowledge to someone else. You will just become an arrogant chef. It doesn’t matter how high you go, it’s the legacy you leave behind and the respect you have on the people who work with you. It’s much more rewarding–much more than money or anything else.
Q: How does working in different regions, countries shape you to become who you are today as a chef ?
A: It’s a competitive industry. It’s a major key factor of the tourism in France. I need to discover all the mind, the culture, and the way to express myself. My first experience when I went to work on a yacht with all those different nationalities, you learn how to communicate and adjust it to different people. You can’t talk the same way to the Fijian people to the way you talk to French people. [You learn] that the philosophy of work that people have, the ambitions they have are different. Your passion may, sometimes, overwhelm people.
Of course, the language—I would be able to do the interview today as my English is okay. . It does help you connect with a lot of people. After, you learn from people, you get to observe and understand the differences in people. It broadens yourself as a person. Learning the language makes me more comfortable in working with guests from different countries. You gain confidence as well.
Q: In creating dishes, where do you get the inspiration?
A: I try to keep it as simple as possible. I always source a good protein.—locally source. You get the experience that also bonds with the people. It’s not just buying from them but understands the work involved. Vegetable is the same. I try to keep it seasonal. One more interesting thing about cooking is trying different vegetables. It gets me exciting. The creation comes with the experience and through traveling .I like to make European cuisines such as Spanish, Italian and French. Lately, I try to incorporate Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Asian food. I try to learn the condiments and seaweed—just to give me dimension to my food. As much as I don’t like modern cuisine, It is a twist.
Q: Is this your first time in Yangon and what brought you to Yangon?
A: Yes, it is and I’m quite excited about it, though I have to leave my seven-month-old daughter behind but it is a good opportunity.
Q: What creation can we expect at CHEF DU MOMENT event at LE Cellier Wine Bar and Restaurant?
A: It will be a four-hand chef, which is trendy at the moment. I want to bring a few New Zealand products to shine. I bring some incredible Miso from Nelson for Miso soup and lemon tea, which I will be smoking the salmon with, seaweed, some beautiful saffron, and honey as well. It will be a glimpse to New Zealand.
Q: If you could have one dish for a month straight, what would it be?
A: Beef Fillet Rossini with pan-fried fois gras on top and Perigord sauce and some potatoes –lots and lots of potatoes roasted with duck fat.
Come and enjoy the culinary adventure with Chef Fabien Simon start from the 11th of October to the 4th of November!! You will get a new fine dining experience with the reasonable price at Le Cellier, Novotel Yangon Max. Reserve your seat at 01-2305858 or 09-251185973.