As the founder and owner of COOKHOUSE, Huen Su San considers the brand to be a pioneer in the cloud kitchen industry in Malaysia.
“When we first started, there were none like us,” she told Vulcan Post. “COOKHOUSE was the first to provide fully-equipped complete kitchen facilities with cooking equipment.”
And she doesn’t just mean pans, knives, and boards. No, the cooking equipment includes grills, kuali ranges, steamers, mixers, food processors, blast freezers, vacuum packing machines, and even baking equipment like dough sheeters, dough proofers, stand mixers, and so much more.
“Till today, we are still the only cloud kitchen to provide commercial standard fully equipped rental kitchen facilities to this standard,” Su San claimed. “We are also extremely proud to be a Malaysian home-grown brand.”
Now, with COOKHOUSE already an established name with five locations in Malaysia, Su San is pioneering something else: a 33,000 sq ft playground for food lovers.
A food lover’s utopia
Located in Kuala Lumpur, Artisan’s Playground was designed specifically for the property. Su San and her team took into consideration the location, vicinity, space, facilities, and even the capacity. This attention to detail comes from the founder’s lifelong values.
“Since young, I had a passion and love for property and architecture and loved the challenge of adding value to a property and its surroundings through purpose, functionality, and lifestyle,” Su San said.
This explains why each and every COOKHOUSE is designed to be slightly different in order to target different segments of consumers.
Su San brought up cars to explain her point of view.
“Mercedes has sedans, four-wheel drives, and sports cars to tailor to different types of use cases,” she explained. “And even for these different segments, it has several models in each category to cater to different groups of consumers.”
But Artisan’s Playground arguably caters to one particular category of like-minded individuals—those who appreciate good food.
While anyone can visit Artisan’s Playground, of course, it’s specifically designed for those with a “discerning palate”. Even though it’s called a playground, it’s clear that these people take food seriously.
“At Artisan’s Playground, we aim to let the audience taste diversity, culture, skill, experience, techniques, ideas, dreams, and passion served to their tables,” Su San said.
To her, this combination is a “treat for diners at Artisan’s Playground”, who are able to experience food made with specialised equipment without having to pay the hefty price tags typically associated with fine dining.
At first glance, it seems like an elevated version of a food court. However, Su San argued that it’s a full-service dine-in restaurant experience. This means that diners are greeted and seated by a host and served at their tables, unlike at the typical food court.
Given the experience Su San aims to deliver to patrons of Artisan’s Playground, the equipment there must be of a high caliber.
“For Artisan’s Playground, I personally sourced the best cooking equipment from around the world,” Su San said.
The equipment includes a Stefano Ferrara pizza oven, a giant Josper oven with double basque grills, a Giesen coffee roaster, a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine, a dry ager, and more.
Only the food operators that rent out the space with the specialised equipment such as the pizza oven and Josper grill will be able to utilise them.
And it’s not just the equipment that has to be top-class. Given how expensive they are, the talent has to rise to the occasion too. To explain, Su San once again makes a comparison to cars.
“It is something like driving a car—not everyone can drive a haulier truck or a Formula One car at a decent speed around the track,” she pointed out.
With that in mind, Artisan’s Playground reached out to chefs and artisans who would be able to properly steer the wheel and fully utilise the equipment available.
“It’s not to say we only take in well-known restaurants and chefs, but we definitely hand-picked top chefs and restaurant owners with a respectable track record and a long-term, sustainable F&B business plan,” Su San said.
Su San’s strict selection of food operators gives Artisan’s Playground an expertly curated food offering. To her, Artisan’s Playground is not a “testbed” for startups. Thus, food operators who are still establishing themselves can instead consider other COOKHOUSE locations.
Artisan’s Playground fits up to 15 private kitchens and will also feature upcoming collaborations with well-known chefs in Malaysia, such as Chef Raymond Tham of KARLS Group’s Skillet & Beta, Chef Diego Reali of Natalina, as well as Chef Loi Ming Ai and Chef Otto Tay from the World Pastry Chef Champions.
Food as an experience
By now, it should be clear that Artisan’s Playground is no ordinary restaurant. Not only does it have fancy equipment and a whole roster of talented chefs, but it also serves as an interactive, experiential space for food enthusiasts.
Thanks to the open kitchen design concept, visitors can experience first-hand the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen. Diners can watch how their food is cooked with the pizza oven and how their latte is brewed with the Giesen coffee roaster.
The team further emphasises this concept by hosting food-related showcases and workshops. From a dining series and pepper tastings to a face painting event for Father’s Day weekend, Su San is designing Artisan’s Playground to be a gathering space for eat and play, and she plans to turn up the heat soon.
“It’s still very early days at Artisan’s Playground and we are just getting started with plenty more to be done,” Su San said. In other words, they’re just getting warmed up.
- Learn more about COOKHOUSE here.
- Learn more about Artisan’s Playground here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Feeatured Image Credit: Founder of COOKHOUSE, Huen Su San