By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
You know that the quality of food in an establishment has to be good when there are well seasoned professionals at the helm, professionals who have moved up the ranks in leading international hotels and restaurant chains and who have had ample opportunity to hone their culinary skills in diverse circumstances and environments.
Introducing Executive Chef Eric Soong Chee Chew (pic, right), a true-blue Ipohite who has come home to roost and is now sharing his culinary skills with fellow Ipohites in the newly-opened Weil Hotel. Currently managing five outlets namely, Tiffin’s All Day Dining, Yuk Sau Hin, Tea Lounge, Deck Gastro Pub, Delicatessen and The Bakery, banquet facilities with Ballroom seating up to 800 and the Conference Centre for up to 600, Eric will be having more on his plate with four more restaurants opening in phase 2.
As part of the pre-opening team since August last year, Eric has been busy purchasing operating equipment, setting up the dry store, the Food Safety Management System, the market list system, the sourcing of food ingredients, writing and planning menus for the outlets, banqueting and custom-made menus.
A veteran of 17 years working his way up in the kitchens, after graduating from Syuen College, Malaysia, with a Diploma in Hotel Management and a Diploma from Professional Management Development Program (The Educational Foundation of The National Restaurant Association), Eric’s last posting before joining Weil Hotel was as Executive Chef in Shangri-La Qingdao, China, a 695-room hotel where he managed five food and beverage outlets and 11 kitchens.
Along the way in his illustrious career, Eric has won innumerable awards including being voted 10 weeks in a row for Pai Thai, best top ten restaurant in Dubai; Gold Medal in beef live cooking during Emirates Salon Culinaire 2005; Bronze Medal in venison live cooking Emirates Salon Culinaire 2005; 2010 Restaurant Awards for Fook Lam Moon – Top 10 Cantonese Restaurants in Beijing by Lifestyle Newspaper and 2010 Best Restaurant Award Recommend Cantonese Restaurant by Time Out Chinese.
In the Weil Hotel, with Tiffin’s All Day Dining, Eric’s focus is on quality comfort food where Ipohites can dine in cool comfort with their favourite local dishes such as, Har Meen, Char Kway Teow or Nasi Goreng; or grab a club sandwich made with freshly baked Ciabatta. For The Deck Gastro Pub on the pool floor, Eric has planned for serving Small Plates which are small bites from a wide selection.
Currently the talk-of-the-town dining venue is their Yuk Sou Hin Chinese restaurant where the food quality and service has raised the bar for Ipoh. Helmed by Master Chef-Chinese Cuisine Chung Ho Shi, Hong Kong born and raised, and now has Singaporean roots, Chef Chung brings with him 38 impressive years of experience, having worked with 15 restaurants both in international hotels as well as restaurant chains including as Executive Chef-Shanghai Region, for Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts Holding which is well known for their culinary excellence.
Together this culinary team of Eric Chew and Chef Chung, will see Yuk Sou Hin giving stiff competition to some of Ipoh’s well established Chinese restaurants. Quality of food aside, there is the additional incentive of beautifully appointed private rooms (some of which may be joined to form a private room for six tables), superlative service, and this scribe’s favourite complaint: clean toilets!