Like a lucky Dream
Jochen Kern

Malaysia / Penang 1994


One year later, I moved to Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang. It was very nice to join Eric again, but this time in a different ambiance of a new exterior but unlikely new interior of the hotel. Staff rights, union, human resource department, returnee guests and so on were deemed more important than questions of hospitality and rendering satisfaction to all guests.

Guest chef Fontaine from Belgium / Eric Lim and Spotless promotion planer from Australia /

Returnees were treated with utmost importance that other guests felt neglected. The Asian guests especially experienced an unwelcome feeling at this resort. The hotel was generally a superb 514 room resort, the pride of the owner. The flagship of Shangri-La’s resorts. It was the first hotel I have ever come across which was run by unionized workforce and returnee guests and not by the management. Eric transferred just before Christmas to Bali and Herman Aha, the Resident Manager, tried his best to manage the resort. Business this year had been very good and the management was happy with the result. The Rasa Sayang is a home for the older folks including cooks, waiters and so on who do not seem to understand the way business was done. Perhaps business came automatically... I don’t know. The treatment some of the guests received was unbelievable. Over ninety percent of the guests comments were "superb"... "an outstanding resort".

the Asperagus queen"Magerete" recipe competition winner, Wongs super sugar house , dine amical of cultures

Looks like I’ve changed over the years from being care-free to someone more critical or from an ignorant youngster to an experienced old timer. I don’t know. Cooks who have worked for 23 years in the same hotel were losing their flexibility. They follow only one style. I had to gradually change the art of cooking there. Then came the Christmas-New Year season with loads of work to be done. All staff were requested to work 8 hours overtime daily which I very much disagreed. I was told that it was something normal in that hotel. I managed to cut my overtime hours in half and my holy Christmas spirit had broken. The kitchen was more spacious and surprisingly the staff showed productivity for the first time. Business was also fantastic I made all sous chefs in charge of different outlets and therefore was not much of a headache.

It was also during this time that I felt I was getting old. I had not much fun with these cooks, there was not much input from my side, the motivation seemed to stop a little. I don’t know why but I did not feel too good in this hotel where you face the customer and know that something is wrong, food and service are too slow, prices are too high, air-condition breaks down and so on. It is also unpleasant to work in hotel where the staff come up with unbelievable excuses and unprofessional answers. It was all truly unpleasant. Recalling all the other different hotels I had worked before, this had been the most unhappy one for me .

2nd Commis Rotisseur competition right to left Chef Brugger , Zöller and the young competiter next to me /
the biggest Oktoberfest on the beach with Francoise

The staff would all answer that they are a five star hotel, a long lasting dream for over 23 years and that nobody can change this vision. With an unconducive working environment and a low morality, I had yet to see if I could tolerate all these for another two years, as I was already fed up after a mere 8 months.

With the Christmas and the new year over, there was a good productive period and a full house with tourists who had chosen to dine in the hotel’s in-house restaurant rather than dine at the lower priced establishment opposite the road.

The VIP functions involving the Presidents of China and Vietnam, the longest buffet in the world, the biggest Oktoberfest on the beach, and so on, were held. The Cordon Noir is presently sourcing for new members to join the inner sanctum of the society. VIP treatment to the regulars like Mr.Boland and Mr.Kersher made time fly very fast. My former Food and Beverage Manager, Arthur, now Vice President of Hyatt International and Gina from Bali also joined us in Penang’s Rasa Sayang Resort but as guests. After 30 years as a cook and now in 1995, I am considered an oldie with a lot of Asian experience.

Mr&Mrs Loose at there Caviar Year

I am still a cook. How can a cook be smart with only 9 years in school. The real scenario is not only one that is documented but rather personally experienced. Everybody you meet is a small study. If you have many contacts like myself, you become smart, professional, your personality grows. People who know you would also respect you for your professionalism and personality. They would also wish to be a cook themselves.

The new General Manager from South Africa came two months after Eric’s departure. he was an Irish, married with two children and perhaps ten years younger than me. The thought of applying for a higher position occurred to me but on the other hand I am happy with who I am. I am satisfied with my life.

Mr. Baty, Mac Saw & Dato Lau at the Penang grand chapitre of the Chaine des Rotisseurs

I had fun with the newsletter production for the Cordon Noir, Sunday’s tennis sessions with Dolly, Horst, Peter and Heiner, Friday’s skat with my German friends Matthias, Horst, Arno, Ingolf, Peter and occasionally Frank to add a sense of balance to my life. There was half a year left and I waited to see what will happen. I often caught myself dreaming of my days in Fiji, Africa, the Middly East or the ship and Central America. Those memories gave me some enthusiastic feelings and encouraged me to think that what I was doing was not senseless and that I should not rest.

Soon the holidays got shorter and shorter, but something cropped up and vacations were canceled or postponed. Being a responsible has to be involved at all corners or be on top of the situation. Any form of complaints need rectification and explainable answers.

My colleague the F&B Manager, Francoise, looked more and more unable to be actively involved. He realized that mere delegating was not enough and that managing a productive department also needed physical input. But the office work was forever endless. There was no choice, even the operation suffered. He followed the head office request that budgeting and other paper work were more important.

Michael there was no more time for fishing.......

The Chinese New Year was more than busy at this resort. It was a full house at ever outlet. The beach sales outnumbered the normal coffee house. The feeling is fantastic when you see the revenue after a hard day’s work. Everything was superb. Complaints, however, were also natural during this time. After the first week of the Chinese New Year, followed Ramadan for the Muslims. Collapse cases at the service site where mostly Muslim work was normal. The Muslims begin their break fast at 7.30 at night and nobody is able to stop any waiter from this most important meal after the long day of fasting. In the morning, before sunrise, the Muslims have their last meal "akhir", a not-to-be missed breakfast gathering in every Muslim household. The gathering is usually similar to the preparation of a party. During this period of fasting the days seemed to move very slow and the personal output is below the productivity level. This went on for a whole month and the Muslim waiters and other hotel employees lost their enthusiasm and therefore resulting in lousy service.

But in the end, it was also as manageable as every other year.

During the period when Allah made this a law, I guarantee there was no hotel and that the fasting hours passed more quickly. I must say I take my hat off to all Muslims who perform their umrah in this tropical climate. It must be really taxing.

......and no more fun with Salmon and Vikings like Frank Naesheim and Lars Barmen

The Chinese on the other hand were keeping themselves busy gambling and partying into the night during Chinese New Year. The Indians also joined in to make the best out of it. They just had their Thaipusam festival where they pierced themselves with huge spikes and hooks and walked between mountains of coconuts behind the gods to their temple. They were in a trance-like state and felt no pain. There spirits were very much in control. They crashed coconuts on the road hoping that their God would grant their secret, maybe to attain a girlfriend or a small mountain of money.

All these festivals in Penang are the highlights for local folks and tourists alike. Even a Chinese opera during the hungry ghost festival or the throwing of oranges during "Chap goh Mei" are so exotic that you will be supeechless. We really miss something in our world... believing. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so much false politics and bloody artificial press stimulation.

When it comes to sex we are surely reminded about the aids fever.’s better not to have sex. Nowadays, wives are even worried that their husbands may have slept with some other women with aids in the past seven years and that husbands are also worried about what they may have done. How nice was the time before, when natural stimulation did not mean sleeping with somebody, but instead gave freedom. Once more instinct gone. Freedom made impossible. The newspaper has undoubtedly done this to protect us but on the other hand freedom is unheard of. It is okay for a satisfied peeping because aids cannot occur by looking only. At least until now. Finding the suitable medicine had been the biggest task and widely discussed subject all over. But after 10 years everything seemed to cool down and the aids fever began to subside.


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