The Yes Chef Conclave, 2017 just got done and what an event it was!
The event saw chefs talking about sustainable cooking, role of social media in running food businesses, food wastage, hottest trends and more, sharing their concerns and solutions and what it feels like to be a part of the community.
We spoke to one such incredible chef Jochen Kern, director at the School of Culinary Arts in Malaysia. Having worked at many prestigious hotels and restaurants across India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji Islands, Indonesia and Iraq, he has a combined experience of over 52 years.
Read on as he talks about his food mantra, tips for aspiring chefs and a lot more.
You have been in this industry for about 52 years. What visible changes have you seen over time?
Well, a major change I have seen is that a lot more people have started eating out in the recent past. Less people actually take time out to cook at home and are more willing to eat outside as compared to the previous years. This in turn has led to hotels and restaurants producing a lot more than they ever did, serving more variety and getting more creative.
What is the one thing according to you differentiates the food in India from the rest of the world?
India is a beautiful country with many different climates, ingredients and cuisines and I think it’s fantastic the kind of variety that this country has to offer. It is very similar to Malaysia where variety is concerned, but it’s also very different ingredient wise.
Since you teach cooking as well, what are the main things you try to inculcate in young chefs?
When I teach young chefs, the first thing is to make sure they know the basics. But, I also like to teach them to feel and understand everything they do. To make sure they take stress under their stride and just have fun in what they are doing.
What is your food mantra?
My main mantra is taste. I believe that food is a necessity, but taste is the fun that can be put into it, so it’s very important for your food to taste good and appeal to whoever eats it.
With organic food being quite the trend, what is your take on it?
In today’s time, organic food is not enough to feed everyone, which is the reason we have non-organic food. It had also become a money-making tactic in the recent times and that is quite a problem. Also, organic food is not standardised and so I think if we go back to organic, the produce will shrink and a lot more people will go hungry, considering the increased consumption.
How would you say a professional kitchen is different from a home kitchen?
Well, I think what distinguishes a professional kitchen from a personal one is the sheer quantity of food the former produces. But again, every kitchen is different and is amazing in its own way.
Which is your favourite cuisine?
I love new and fresh ingredients and African cuisine is something that really interests me because of all the different flavours that pack quite a punch. Although that is not the only cuisine I love, but it’s definitely on the list.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Any kind of seafood is my favourite. There is a lot you can do with it and it is very easy to make it your own.
What is the one dish you truly enjoy cooking?
I enjoy making everything. There is nothing that I don’t like or will not enjoy making, but what I enjoy even more is eating it after it’s made. That’s the best part!
One advice to new aspiring chefs?
A very important thing to always keep in mind is to taste everything you make. Only if you love it will your customer love it too, and if you think it’s not perfect, then don’t put it on the plate. Perfection should be the motto.