'I'd have loved to serve pancakes to Prince': Steven Nguyen
The head chef of Indochine at DIFC lets us into his kitchen
Your best food-related experience to date.
I would have to say the first time I had typhoon shelter crab in Hong Kong with my staff. It was momentous because, for about 30 years, I was allergic to shellfish. I really wanted to partake in eating the crab with my staff, so I packed my epipen with me just in case. I took a deep breath and took a bite, and it was delicious! Then I waited for the reaction, then waited some more - and. nothing. There was no reaction; I was fine and apparently lucky enough to have grown out of my allergy. After years of abstinence, a new culinary world opened up!
Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
I really admire the work of author Harold McGee. He's written an amazing book called On Food and Cooking. I think it is an essential text for any culinary professional to get a fact-based and in-depth education on the ingredients we use every day.
Your favourite culinary destination, and why?
Japan, undoubtedly. There is such a higher sense of quality and care there, and I have such an admiration for the elegant simplicity inherent in Japanese cuisine. Osaka is a food lover's paradise, especially the Dotonbori district - I loved eating okonomiyaki and takoyaki there.
How often do you eat out? And what's your favourite place around town?
Not often enough - only if I have a date lined up, which is (sadly) rare with my schedule. I have a few places on my list to check out: Akiba Dori, 3 Fils. I am also looking forward to Hutong opening up.
If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve him or her?
Living or dead? I would have to say Prince. I'd serve him pancakes, and maybe I'd invite Dave Chappelle as well.
You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
I would incorporate oysters and kiwi. It sounds like an odd pairing, but, from a molecular level, they are very complementary to each other.
One ingredient/dish you can't stand, and why?
Truffle oil. It's just not the real deal. It tastes synthetic and overpowers everything you put it on.
After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
If putting on the kettle and pouring hot water into a bowl of Shin Ramyun Black counts, then yes.
Favourite comfort food?
Pizza - it's just perfect simplicity when done right.
If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
Hands down, a two-course Peking duck. Crispy duck skin, with scallion and hoisin wrapped in flat pancake; the rest of the duck is stir-fried and served with lettuce cups. After that, you can bury me at sea.
Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
Training at Team Nogueira Gym and getting back into Muay Thai to work off all the pizza and instant noodles I eat, or under the covers sleeping as much as I can.
- Staff Reporter