Michael Saxon lives in Penang, Malaysia where he is the General Manager of one of the Far East’s most prestigious and historic hotels – the Eastern & Oriental. Happily married to his Malaysian wife, Beatrice, with whom he has two beautiful daughters, and working in the job of his dreams, he exudes the quiet charm that goes with being truly content with life. Michael has also written his autobiography, Chef’s Tales, and regularly blogs on Michael Saxon’s Musings at http://chefstales.wordpress.com
What is it that you do exactly?
I’m currently the General Manager of both the Eastern & Oriental Hotel and the Lone Pine Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. I run both hotels and I am responsible for their financial results as well as their day-to-day operation.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I mostly love being the General Manager of the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, as it’s one of the premier and most prestigious hotels in Asia. It’s 123 years old this year and my position makes me very proud to be given the honour of being its main ambassador and caretaker.
What would you say are the three best places you’ve ever stayed?
I have been involved in the hospitality industry for over 30 years and counting. During this time I have worked in nine different countries and visited many more. Every country has something special that you can absorb and remember with a warm heart, if you look hard enough and you enjoy life in general. Having said that, the Bahamas, Thailand and Hong Kong were great places to live and work. Last, but certainly not least, Malaysia is my most favourite place which is the reason why I have been here for well over 16 yearsâ€¦..so far.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
When I was working in the Bahamas, a few friends and I rented a sea plane, the small propeller type that lands on the sea. The pilot flew us to a remote and secluded tiny island and dropped us off so we could enjoy a very private barbecue. It really was a tiny island with a pink tinged, fine sand beach! We spent the whole day there with a sunset-to-midnight barbecue; it was unbelievable. It was so untouched you really did have the feeling that you were the only people who had ever been on this particular island and beach. We sat round a camp fire waiting for the plane to come, it was pitch black and you could see every single star that lit up the sky. The only worry was if the pilot forgot about us and did not come back!!
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
I have cooked for, met or bumped into many heads of state, celebrities and politicians over the years, to name just a few: Glenda Jackson, Charles Bronson, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Mr. T, Dustin Hoffman, Stevie Wonder, The Aga Khan, Prince Philip, Margaret Thatcher, the then President Suharto of Indonesia, the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, Rick Stein, The Sultan of Brunei, Merv Griffin, Duran Duran, Donald Trump, Steven Segal and Madonna.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I would like to take Beatrice, my wife and my two beautiful daughters, Alycia and Jessica, to an island resort that has a large swimming pool, a clean beach and landscaped gardens so I can spend some quality time alone with them.
Many thanks for your time and these insights into your life running the E&O Hotel. We wish you all the success in the world and good luck with the new edition of your autobiography.
This interview was conducted in person by Kay McMahon of BritishExpat.com