Ma, his surname, means “force, solid ground,” but Michael’s attitude toward building IndoChine has, in fact, been infl uenced by, and revolves around, the lakes, sea and rivers of Asia-water is important.
Many of IndoChine’s establishments in Singapore, Jakarta, Indonesia; Phuket, Thailand and Hamburg, Germany are situated beside water. “In our family our names mean I am a river, my older brother is a bigger river, the next one is a lake and my youngest brother is a pond.” Marine life and issues, such as whaling and the killing of dolphins, shaped
Michael’s attitude toward the environment early on through volunteering to become an activist for organizations like Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund as well as being an ambassador for IUCN, a global non-governmental organization, which is active in addressing environmental and developmental issues.
This philosophy is evident in IndoChine’s signature dishes, which are heavily fish-based, but you will not find caviar from stugeon, sharks fi n soup or blue or yellow-finned tuna-all endangered-on the menu anywhere. An early love of fi ne wine, and a realization that in the 1990s diners wanted simple, Asian cuisine, particularly in warmer Asian climates, drove development of IndoChine’s unique “lifestyle” experience.
The environmental theme extends to IndoChine building designs, which includes heat exchange systems for hot water, LED light and the use of antique furniture and decorations. In the early days his desire to make a strong statement,
meant Michael having the confidence and drive to beat the competition. “Being cheeky I said to myself I could outrun these guys. From the outset I wanted to be at the top. I sized myself up against others regionally and globally.”
And he has been doing that ever since, injecting an environmental element into all aspects of IndoChine’s operations and services.