How did you get started in hospitality?
I had my first job when I was 15 years old as a waiter in a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant. I found myself enjoyed watching the chefs doing what they did best. Since then, I spent most of my weekends cooking for my family. Once I graduated from secondary school, I enrolled myself to a two years culinary art course and have been in the hospitality industry since then. I’ve worked in Osteria Mozza and Esquina in Singapore, Ledbury in London, Maaemo in Oslo and Sprout in Johor Bahru.
For those that haven’t visited, tell us a bit more about Chocha in your own words?
Chocha Foodstore is all about bringing people together in a historical space, that was charmingly designed and restored to a contemporary restaurant in the most casual and relaxing environment. We welcome everyone from all walks of life, whether for a meal or just to have a glass or two. We are currently focusing on locally-sourced ingredients, drawing inspirations from our motherland, nostalgic flavours with refined cooking techniques. Our philosophy is that food should always be shared. One of the highlights of Chocha Foodstore is the ability to discover your local landscape through your meal. Especially in Malaysia, many of our native or local ingredients have been overlooked in the search for foreign foods. Freshness is something irreplaceable and the best way is always sourcing from the shortest distance possible.
Tell us about the most challenging dish to create in the menu and why
It would be our chicken feet dish. It is also one of the best dishes to represent our cooking philosophy at Chocha Foodstore- taking inspiration from our daily life to transform seemingly humble ingredients into memorable dishes. I have been eating chicken feet my whole life, but how can I give this dish the respect it deserves?
Every chicken feet needs to be blanched, deep-fried, steam and deep-fried again. The chicken feet are to be glazed with caramel and soy sauce that has been cooked in spices. The most challenging part is where every single bone in each feet needs to be removed. The preparation is rather labour intensive and time-consuming.
Chef Mui shared the chicken feet recipe that you can make at home:
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What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Stay focus, stay inspired, stay humble and keep cooking
What needs to happen to ensure that the industry is better supported moving forward?
People should continuously support local and neighbourhood businesses. It doesn’t matter whether it is a high-end restaurant or a hawker stall, everyone needs support on a daily basis. If the whole industry could moving forward together, it will definitely bring us to the next level.
Which restaurant in the world do you wish to visit once we can start travelling and why?
Maaemo in Oslo, Norway as it is one of the most inspiring restaurants and I was lucky enough to be trained in their kitchen during the early stages of my professional career.
Image credit: Chocha Food Store