Bookends

Spanish restaurant Alma by Juan Amador's executive chef Muhammad Haikal Johari.
Spanish restaurant Alma by Juan Amador's executive chef Muhammad Haikal Johari.PHOTO: WATER LIBRARY

Who: Muhammad Haikal Johari, 39, is an executive chef at Spanish restaurant Alma by Juan Amador, which recently received one Michelin star in the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore.

He has been running the restaurant in Goodwood Park Hotel since last month and he has been doing so from a wheelchair.

He was involved in a motorcycle accident in Pattaya, Thailand, last October, which left him paralysed from the neck down. He has regained partial control of his body and goes for physiotherapy daily at the National University Hospital.

Before joining the restaurant in Singapore, he was working in Bangkok for the Water Library's group of restaurants.

The Thai owner of the group partnered German chef Juan Amador to open the restaurant here last year. Chef Amador, who runs a three-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in Germany, picked chef Haikal to helm Alma.

Chef Haikal received his culinary education at the hospitality institute Shatec and honed his skills at various restaurants here, including Ember and Les Amis.

Spanish restaurant Alma by Juan Amador's executive chef Muhammad Haikal Johari.
Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Librairie Larousse

What are you reading now?

I always have a copy of Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Librairie Larousse with me.

This is one of the best and most original cookbooks around and it is a true encyclopaedia of gastronomy that dates back to 1938. It has the most original French recipes and it provides plenty of inspiration for me to build my own culinary style.

What books would you save from a burning house?

Spanish restaurant Alma by Juan Amador's executive chef Muhammad Haikal Johari.
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, Michael Ruhlman and Susie Heller

The first would be Larousse Gastronomique.

But I would rush back in to grab another book, The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller, Michael Ruhlman and Susie Heller.

It has recipes and techniques for some of the most complex and challenging dishes. It sets high standards which any chef should aspire to achieve.

• Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Librairie Larousse ($147.14, 2009, Clarkson Potter) and The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, Michael Ruhlman and Susie Heller ($87.10, 1999, Artisan) are available at Books Kinokuniya.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Bookends'. Print Edition | Subscribe