Society Abroad

‘I’ve Never Been To M’sia’, Says Chef & Owner Of Michelin Star M’sian Restaurant In NYC

You’d think that someone who’s a chef and owner of a Malaysian restaurant would be a local or at least have prior experience living in the country. But this wasn’t the case for a chef at an upscale restaurant in New York City.

Meet Salil Mehta, a chef born in New Delhi, India, who recently made a jaw-dropping admission while sharing the story of his unorthodox path to becoming a chef and owning a Malaysian restaurant named Laut (‘sea’ in Malay).

- Advertisements -
Salil mehta
Screenshot via YouTube/CBS News

Owner of Michelin star M’sian restaurant in NYC a self-taught cook

In a news interview with the chef by CBS News, the clip begins by revealing that Salil was the owner of Laut, “the first Malaysian restaurant to earn a Michelin star”.

- Advertisements -

The news also said that his passion was actually to be a fashion designer but left the field in order to pay the bills.

When asked how he honed his skills as a chef, Salil explained that it took a lot of research and first began during a visit to a Buddhist temple at Elmhurst, Illinois.

- Advertisements -

“Every morning, people from the community would cook for the monks and they cook homecooked food over there.

Devotees at buddhist temple in elmhurst
Screenshot via YouTube/CBS News
“I just went there and took food and started talking to the local Thai ladies about what they put in their food and what I put in mine to kind of understand what’s missing from my side,” he explained.

In 2010, Salil took charge of Laut and made a successful career out of it by earning a Michelin star, making the restaurant the first Malaysian eatery to do so.

‘Never been to Malaysia in my life’

Despite this achievement, Salil went on to drop a bombshell: he had never step foot into Malaysia his entire life.

I’ve never been to Malaysia in my life…which was crazy.

“I didn’t even know what a Michelin star was at the time,” he added.

Salil mehta says he's never been to m'sia
Screenshot via YouTube/CBS News

Aside from Laut, Salil also owns Wau, another Malaysian restaurant that offers dishes such as nasi lemak, roti canai, char kuey teow, asam pedas and rendang.

During the interview, he showcased his personal spin on the iconic Malaysian dish char koay teow, dubbing it the ‘Dragon Breath Char Koay Teow’.

- Advertisements -
Dragon breath char koey teow
Screenshot via YouTube/CBS News

Watch the full interview here:

- Advertisements -

What do you think of Salil’s rendition of Malaysian food? Would you try it out? Let us know in the comments!


Weirdkaya is on instagram!
For more stories like this, follow WeirdKaya on Facebook and Instagram!

We are hiring writers!
We are hiring writers!