At 6:28 in the evening, he looks a little worn out by the long day in the kitchen. But a gleam in his eyes suggests the vitality within. Matthew van der Zwan fits the bill of a Dutch – imposingly tall, with short cropped blond hair and ice blue eyes. And yet, he can’t speak the language. Born and bred in Australia, the 36-year-old admits to being a little cocky when he was younger, but has since been whipped into shape by his mentors. But those days of being kicked out of kitchens are long behind him. Now at the Singapore Marriott Hotel as Executive Sous Chef, he is purposefully carving a name for himself.
What would you be if not a Chef?
Unemployed bum! No I’m kidding. I’ve always been in some form of trade. I’ve done carpentry, plumbing, car welding – so maybe I might be an engineer with Porsche now!
Biggest challenge right now?
Having this interview. (laughs) Probably dealing with people and managing associates. It’s a part of the job that chefs would prefer not to deal with because we would rather just cook.
Name a pet peeve.
People with Bluetooth ear pieces. What annoys me more though, are people who dawdle when walking and stop in front of you. So my peeve would be a Bluetooth dawdler.
What makes you happy?
Spending time with my wife and family, and travelling. I like to take my time off to return to Australia to visit my folks. Or visit Japan, maybe? And pursue a neglected hobby, such as skiing, or photography. I’d like to have a bit of time to dabble with my new camera.
What keeps you going?
I’m enjoying what I do now and always having something to look forward to. And of course, my wife.
Do you have any kids?
Not at the moment but I do have a Golden Retriever. I would want one kid, at least. I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, no preference.
My short-term dream right now is to see through my career and keep my focus on that. There are new opportunities everywhere.
If you could choose to have a superpower, what would you like?
Time travel. I want to travel back and forth in time, and then invest in companies to make a killing! Otherwise foreseeing the future would be good too.