Andrew Lai, Founder & CEO of Curious Kitchen
In this interview, Andrew Lai, Founder & CEO of Curious Kitchen, tells of his journey to opening the popular restaurant and bar in Tropicana Avenue and some possible future plans.
What do you do?
I’m the founder and CEO of Curious Kitchen.
How did you get into the industry?
I was always fascinated with good quality ingredients. When I first tasted top quality Iberico pork, it made me curious enough to travel all the way to Spain for it. I’ve visited the farms, learned about their food and breeding culture and decided to bring the top-quality brand into Malaysia.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
We started off as a research and development centre at our Sentul office for ingredients. We organized some of our closest friends to try out our products, and it soon spread out to a wider circle of friends and eventually lead to us to organizing private omakase-style dinners. We even met some of our current partners during one of these dinners!
What’s a food memory from your childhood or travels that stands out?
When I ate raw tartare-styled Iberico in a top Madrid restaurant owned by Joselito (one of the top Iberico brands in the world-famous for their Jamon).
What’s the best/worst part of your job?
The best part is seeing happy customers and the work of the team at Curious Kitchen. Although it happens sometimes in dealing with unhappy customers, which is the worst part of the job, so we try to avoid that at all costs.
Andrew Lai’s favourite food and beverage pairing?
That’s the thing; I love sharing and pairing a variety of small bites with a variety of wines. I love tasting everything. If it were limited to only one thing then it would have to be the classic pairing of good meat with good wine.
What’s one of the funniest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
One of the funniest was trying to convince a group of diners that they’re eating pork and not beef as they thought we’re trying to prank them. As in fact the 100% pure Iberico meat can be eaten and served at medium doneness.
The perfect day off would be spent …
… playing golf.
A day in the life of Andrew Lai…
…one that it never stops.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Curious Kitchen?
I’d like my guests to know that Curious Kitchen is a casual social bar and restaurant filled with friendly faces that serves great food with affordably priced wine.
How has the pandemic changed you, your perspective, or the way you operate?
You have to work like it’s your last day on earth focusing on the present, making things happen now.
What’s something you’d like people to know about being a CEO as a profession?
Stay curious always and never stop learning.
What’s your view on the food and beverage scene in KL?
The food and beverage scene in KL will be robust/happening until the end of this year because people have been trapped in their “cages” for too long. I had a friend who told me that she felt like she just came out of the cave when she came to Curious Kitchen after the latest MCO!
How has the pandemic changed you as a CEO?
I’ve learned to persevere and to constantly build positive momentum for the team and myself. Basically, never give up and never be the best. Be Better.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
More Curious Kitchens?