The Edge Malaysia (Options), 5 July 2004
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
YTL Corp Bhd
Who’s your favourite author?
CS Lewis by any measure. I love CS Lewis a lot. I recently bought the rest of his books that I haven’t read. Reading his work is wonderful, very therapeutic for the soul. I’ve learnt a lot from him.
What’s your favourite bookshop?
Do you ever plan to write a book? What would it be about?
Yes... many books. One would be autobiographical, about my relationship with the leaders of the world. Another would be about true friends. True friends are gifts from God, and I want to write about good friends how I have kept them. I’d actually love to see them penning this book with me.
I’d also like to write a book about me and God, my relationship with God. Sort of observations like CS Lewis did on his walk with God, but of course, not in his style, but in simple, blood-sweat-and-tears language. I’ve already begun to keep records on my thoughts and speeches. Looking at them, I can see the colour of my soul, where I’m going. I’ll write it for my family and my friends, not necessarily for public consumption. It will be a catharsis for me.
What’s your favourite fine-dining restaurant?
I think the (phrase) “fine-dining restaurant” is an oxymoron. Dining is dining, you can dine in a fine way at a hawker stall or a restaurant. Sometimes, we like to dress up, sometimes we prefer jeans.
I love the variety of God’s blessings. I have very few vices in life now, and food is something I look forward to. I look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner at all times. And I love home cooking – that’s fine dining for me. I try to eat home at least 50% of the time, but I love eating out, too.
I’m making my wish list come true, putting my childhood fantasies of food together. In 2005, we’re opening the new Starhill Centre with two floors of the best food on earth. It will be a wonderful experience.
What’s your favourite roadside stall?
One of them is Jack’s coffee shop in Campbell Road (Jalan Dang Wangi, KL). And there’s a fish-ball place in Tengkat Tong Shin – it has the best fish balls in the world.
What’s your favourite kind of food?
Well, I love pasta in any form. Chinese pasta, that is, noodles, Italian… I know all the best pasta restaurants in the world.
How far have you travelled just to eat?
I love Shanghai crab. Back in those days, I would go to Hong Kong just to eat (it) in October, when it was in season. I’d just eat five to 10 crabs with ginger tea. I love the roe, it beats the best caviar on earth. But with time, I brought the restaurant here. That’s my habit. If I like it, I try to bring it here. People know my passion for food and want to open a restaurant with me!
Do you cook?
Yes, I cook.
What’s the dish you prepare best?
You have to ask my wife and children what I do best, but I think it is pastas. I like preparing pastas… it takes a lot of skill.
Do you match wines with your food?
No, I think that would be too presumptuous.
What’s your favourite wine?
My favourite… those of the Bordeaux. I like most of the Bordeaux in a good year – 1982, ‘61, ‘45, ’66…
What is your favourite leisure activity?
Reading. I also love skiing – I like the change of scenery, the beauty of the surroundings, the glimpse of the heavens, and the time it gives me with my wife and children. I love holidays, doing nothing and the thought that I have the whole day to do nothing.
What is the best play you have seen – overseas and locally?
Well, I love opera. I don’t know about the best I’ve seen, though. Don Giovanni in Covent Garden, La Boheme at the New York Metropolitan. Locally… I’ve quite enjoyed Instant Cafe Theatre productions.
What genre of music do you enjoy?
Classical music. I like Bach, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi... My ears are tuned in to certain types of music, like my tongue is tuned in to pasta. I like the more melodic music of the great composers. Some hits of Andrew Lloyd Webber that are very Puccini-ish appeal to me. Modern music that can bring tears to my eyes and evoke powerful emotions I’d put with the classics.
What’s your most frequented travel destination?
For work or for leisure? For leisure, I tend to go to the ski resorts and spend summers in Spain. It’s not necessarily my favourite destination but my most frequented. We choose Spain for our holidays because of the long daylight hours, and from there, go to Capri or the Greek islands.
What’s your favourite hotel?
In France, the Crillon. The concierge there is so good. I tend to stay in hotels with a bit of history, with tradition and a good concierge.
What’s your favourite airline?
So far, going to Europe, Malaysia Airlines has not failed me, nor has British Airways.
What do you pack in your hand luggage?
I only have one piece of hand luggage. I carry books, toiletries and pyjamas.
What’s the greatest thing about travelling? And the worst?
The best thing about travelling for a holiday? Doing nothing. For work, well you don’t have a choice, do you? My greatest hope when I travel for work is that I sleep well. If I don’t sleep well, I feel very uncomfortable. You know that Malaysia Airlines advertisement about sleeping well? It’s true. Only thing is I’ve advised them to keep the temperature comfortable.
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