By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
Well she’s done it again. Not one for resting on her laurels, Julie Song, Ipoh’s own restaurateur/chef extraordinaire has once again helped put Ipoh on the culinary and tourist map. Known for scooping up culinary honours at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) one of Asia’s most prestigious awards for the Food and Beverage Industry, Julie is now wowing Enrich Platinum passengers on board Malaysia Airlines around the world and hopefully have them burning up tyres in their haste to get to Ipoh for more of her Modern European cuisine for which her restaurant cum Boutique Hotel is famous.
Collaboration with MAS
Julie is known for her innovative and highly creative dishes, serving posh nosh to Ipohites and visitors who come from all over the world to stay at her luxury boutique hotel with its seven themed rooms. This latest collaboration with Malaysian Airlines will be yet another feather in her culinary cap, a secret which she has cherished since the beginning of the year, travelling to Kuala Lumpur on a weekly basis to work on the menu and train the chefs at both the Sky Chefs and Malaysian Airlines kitchens.
Julie, as a previous article in issue 65 has highlighted, is a self-made chef, whose passion for cooking has been honed to a fine art. An eclectic career saw her begin working life as a successful model, after having obtained a degree in mathematics. Marriage and three children later brought her often into the kitchen where she experimented and created her own unique dishes, fantasy concoctions that tease the eye and tantalise the palate.
Now that the Chef-On-Call menu with Julie Song is up and running, she is hoping that the resultant publicity and the taste and presentation of the various dishes will further heighten the curiosity of international gourmets the world over and nudge them to discover the culinary treasures of Ipoh and bring them here to taste not only Indulgence’s food but also the huge variety of delectable fare for which Ipoh is famous.
Chef-on-Call as the service on Malaysian Airlines is called, is available to Enrich Platinum members flying Business and First Class between Kuala Lumpur and Europe and Australia. Passengers will have to call 24 hours before their flight to book their meal from a menu of 25 dishes. Top in her list of recommendations are the stuffed chicken roulade with caramelised onions, tender lamb loin with paprika-dusted pumpkin, and Miso soup with crab gnocchi and coriander. And of course there is a choice for different ethnic tastes as oriental dishes also feature significantly on the menu.
Being a perfectionist at heart, Julie goes to great lengths to ensure that the preparation of her dishes is executed perfectly by the chefs at the catering kitchens. Chefs have been flying in to Kuala Lumpur from all over the Malaysian Airlines network to learn some of the cooking techniques and presentation of the dishes. She introduced new cooking techniques like baking fish in parchment paper and wrapping rice in lotus leaves to ensure that food stays moist during the reheating process on the plane. To this end, she has even flown many sectors just to check out the quality of her dishes when they are served to the passenger. Her other emphasis is on eye appeal of the dishes and she has also spent time working with the cabin crew who will be serving the dishes.
Creating Awareness for Ipoh
“I have often been asked why I haven’t opened a branch of Indulgence in Kuala Lumpur. I am an Ipohite and this is my way of creating awareness for Ipoh. Most of the top restaurants in the world are seldom at one’s doorstep. A little distance creates mystique, a frisson of adventure and a reason for an outing”, she said. “The more awareness I create for Indulgence, the more international travellers will want to visit Ipoh.”
She is correct in her assessment if we were to look at some of the Michelin-star restaurants scattered around the world. Build a reputation, serve superb food and the world’s foodies will beat a path to your door. “Look at Heston Blumenthal whose restaurant the Fat Duck has been on the number 1 list in the world for the past three years. It’s quite a drive to get out to Bray where the restaurant is situated and yet, the restaurant is booked out 3 months in advance”, Julie added.
Ipoh is proud to have Julie Song as an Anak Perak.