With 2500 taste buds, the human palette embarks on a never-ending journey to find a new flavour that will appease its quest for gastronomic satisfaction. The mixing of spices, simmering of stews and spinning of sugar has become nothing short of artistic technique that requires continuous practice of this craft. Each chef experiments with uncountable flavours in order to create their exquisitely unique canvas on plate; ICE Today has taken the time to converse with a few international chefs about their history and what has propelled them to choose Dhaka as their design studios.
Chef Olivier Loreaux
Le Méridien Dhaka
Globe-trotting is a necessary component of any chef’s expedition to refining their art, and Chef Olivier has travelled the world. Regardless of his transitions, Le Méridien and the support of his family have been a constant in his life. A 14-year-old Olivier was not passionate about football, he proclaims, “My playing field was the kitchen; I would spend my entire summer vacation there, with various chefs.” He went on to obtain a 3 year course diploma from Lycee Hotelier Macon. He would travel back home to spend the weekends with his favorite cook; his mother. After obtaining his degree, Chef Olivier followed his passion for the Oyster Gratinée, which led him to work for Le Bar A Huitre in Paris as the chef de partie. From grilling on an open flame to putting them out, the chef joined the military as a fireman for over a year. Upon returning to Paris, his employment with hotel services started as a sous chef for the Hotel Climat de France and continued to work throughout France for 4 years. “I advanced to Chef de Cuisine for the Hotel Le Coulinec in 1993 and continued as one for 2 years,” enthusiastically stated. The chef boarded a plane for the first time to join the Le Méridien kitchen in 1995 as a sous chef, receiving his acceptance a day after applying.
He continued there for 5 years and was promoted to Executive Chef of the Le Meridien Iles Des Pins, which the chef stated was the most beautiful hotel located amongst the scenic nature of an island. After many years in tropical climates, he travelled to the frosty temperatures of Le Meridien Villon in Lithuania. He shares, “The long winters were welcoming because I loved the cold.” However after 2 years, he travelled to Cairo to the Le Méridien Heliopolis. “I thought a change of scenery was necessary and it was nice to escape the cold. I did not expect the frosty weather of the desert nights.” Chef Olivier travelled throughout Africa as the Executive Chef of Le Méridien Mandji in Gabon. Eventually he ventured into Le Royal Méridien in Abu Dhabi, to welcome the challenge of a business hotel with the best quality food. He expanded upon this endeavour by becoming the area corporate chef of Al Hokair Group in Saudia Arabia. Upon looking at the scenic view and enmities of the hotel, Chef Olivier became the Director of Food & Beverages of Le Méridien Dhaka after a searching through Google. He states, “Upon arriving to Dhaka, I loved the friendly environment and the unique discoveries in every nook and cranny of the versatile city.”
Advice for chef I believe that no cooking school creates a chef. They must have the passion curiosity and spirit along with the yearning to learn about different cultures, food and people.
Favorite method of cooking in order of preference Bake, poached, broil, grill, sous-vie, fry
Best Culinary experience Grilled lobster in New Caledonia Beach
Guilty pleasure Gummy bears and Croco Haribo
One food you would eat forever Oyster
Chef Krishnamurti Damarjati
Hotel Amari Dhaka
It started with dicing carrots and boiling potatoes for his mother’s catering service, which led Chef Krishnamurti to realise that his passion lies in the kitchen. In 1996, a young Krishnamurti was confused about his career path. His love for cooking guided him to Jakarta International Tourism Academy, starting his career in the Grand Hyatt Jakarta. His journey as a professional chef led him to the Grand Hyatt Dubai where he worked for 6 years as an apprentice, honing his technique by working wherever a cooking hand was needed including the banquet hall, the café and the deli of the hotel. He states, “In 2002, I had received my position as the head chef of the main kitchen of the Grand Hyatt Dubai, being in charge of the cold kitchen creating any kind of dressing, canopies and salads from scratch.” In 2004, he became the supervising chef of an Italian restaurant, Andiamo, which broadened his experiences and his guilty pleasure, tiramisu. The chef’s passion for all things Italian led him to perfect the herb crusted lamb chops with ratouille and mashed potatoes.
Chef Krishnamurti returned to hotels as the Senior chef de Partie for the Address Hotel in Dubai after 4 years of pasta and pastries. “I wanted to perfect my skills as a chef of a major hotel and this led me to the Park Hyatt Jeddah, where I was promoted to the head chef. It was the first time I was in charge of all outlets and a staff of approximately 70 chefs,” he postulates. It was a turning point in his life as he was given the responsibility of a creating the menu, ensuring the day to day menu, maintaining food quality and exquisite service. After a year, he moved on to a bigger endeavours by transferring to the Fairmont Hotel Kingdom in Saudia Arabia. Chef Krishnamurti advanced his career to head chef after moving back closer to home as the Head Chef of Xana Beach Club Complex in Angsana Laguna Phuket focusing on Mediterranean and Thai cuisine. His fervour to progress led him back to Saudia Arabia, where he acquired the position of Chef De Cuisine/ Assistant Executive Chef at the Bellevue Group (Nutritional Food Co, Jeddah). He explains, “I decided that I needed to expand my abilities as a chef by catering to the corporate scene and the large events from schools and major companies. It was something of a challenge that would push my boundaries as a chef being in charge of 7 restaurants and a staff of 220.” From his time in Thailand, his second home, he discovered Amari and was interested to work with a company that had rapidly expanded throughout Asia. The General Manager he had known in Phuket offered him the position of Executive Chef of Amari Dhaka. Today, he is in charge of all the restaurants, room service and events that is hosted by the hotel that overlooks Central Dhaka.
Advice for chefs Allow your passion to be the guidance for the dishes that you will prepare
Favorite dessert Tiramisu
One dish you have mastered Lamb chops with ratatouille and gratin
Midnight Snack Cheese platter
Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast Dinner for breakfast
Chef Shoji Morita
Umai Japanese Restaurant
As Chef Shoji Morita cuts the sashimi with precision and pipes wasabi into his palms to form a perfect ovular garnish, one could not imagine that his voyage behind cooking, started with flipping burger patties in the Kanagawa, a western restaurant in Yokohama, Japan. He began perfecting the skills of creating sushi in his hometown at a restaurant known as Sushi Yoshi. After three successful years of his career, the chef moved to Vancouver, Canada. “I worked in a restaurant known as Kibune-Sushi. I loved the quaint little premise and learned a number of sushi items that were popular in the western world but it also made me realise my limited ability with traditional Japanese sushi,” he explains. The chef returned to Japan to join Sushi-kou, in Ueno, where helearned the various sushi techniques just as properly as boiling the rice. He continued honing his skills in Japanese sushi and cuisine in numerous restaurants and hotels in Japan. His desire to travel, took him to South Africa, where he worked at Daruma, an intercontinental hotel in Johannesburg that he discovered from a tourist guidebook. This enabled him to travel through the plains with a motorcycle and work throughout Africa. “I started a family in South Africa and realised that I would have to provide for a better future considering that there were better prospects in Japan,” he explains. Chef Morita became a teacher of the reputed Nishitoukyou Chourishi Sennmonn Gakkou in Kodairo, Tokyo.
He continued his career at several restaurants in Tokyo before venturing out to Greece, where he perfected his signature MKM roll. “I knew of the popular sushi hubs such as Los Angeles and I wanted to introduce sushi to parts of the world where they were less common,” he elaborates upon his decision to move to Europe. In the midst of his travels, the chef went back to South Africa to Johannesburg during the world cup, serving as head sushi chef during the 2010 World Cup. He travelled through Budapest, St. Petersburg, Monaco and numerous parts of Greece working both as a sushi chef, developing a menu and teaching sushi to mostly first time learners. His culinary tour of Europe ended in Greece where it had begun in Kiku for 2 years. In Kiku, the chef worked with a Bengali chef. “I looked into Bangladesh and my zeal to spread traditional sushi to the world was ignited upon my colleagues request to join Umai.” His passion for sushi is as precise as the perfect slivers of seaweed that he wraps around each roll. Chef Morita has chosen to further the desire for sushi in this South Asian hub.
Advice for chefs If you want to join this profession, be prepared to have dinner without your family.
An essential sauce Soy sauce
A sensitive condiment Salt, because you can never take it back
Dream culinary city Any city that has yet to discover the potential of sushi
A dish you have mastered MKM Maki which I created in Greece
Chef Gastón Palacios Martinez
Walking from his apartment in 68th street to the lakeside restaurant, Chef Gastón starts his morning with an Americano and a glass of fruit juice. His strict routine and dietary regime comes as a surprise upon learning of his adventurous personality. Upon starting a career for an insurance company at the age of 21, Gastón realised that this was undoubtedly not the path for him. “At the age of 23, I made the decision to join the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomia. It was a stretch for my parents to accept, but they understood my passion,” he explains. Following his graduation, Chef Gastón worked in Muelle del Plata, specialising in Argentinean food. The restless chef decided that he would take a trip to Spain and develop his experience, upon which he decided to stay in Spain for 12 years. He began his career in Madrid as a barbeque chef on the rooftop pool of a club in Madrid during the weekends and La Vieja Estacion, an Argentinean restaurant. He elaborates, “I worked in Spain without an ID or proper documentation; it was just eating and working. Spain however was the destination from which I learn the most as a chef. It took me 2 years to procure the proper papers.” He added variety to his career by working as a chef in Indian, Italian and Mediterranean restaurants.
By this time, Chef Gastón had accumulated many friends and they had decided to open a pizzeria in the central market. With his experience in running a pizzeria, he decided it was time for a change and moved to the blue water beaches of Punta Cana. The chef headed an Intercontinental restaurant and specialized in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian food. “The scenic beach front was a break from the hectic life I had in Spain. I would work long hours but there was always the option to get away to the beach and walk through the sunset with my dog.” Given his innate love for travelling the chef took a tour of South East Asia and returned to Madrid to work as the head chef of The Clover House, a Mediterranean restaurant. “I spent some time in Uruguay and Argentina, working in pasta houses before joining Balicana, a Mediterranean restaurant in Dominican Republic before a friend approached me about a restaurant in Dhaka.” Chef Gastón loves to listen to Mick Jagger while creating a wide variety of dishes but he has given up the rock star lifestyle of travelling the world for a more peaceful existence in a city that he believes embraces the ever-growing variety of cuisine throughout the world.
Advice for chef You may lose time from many things in your life but pursing your enthusiasm for food will prove to be a priceless experience.
Soundtrack while cooking Crave in Paris
White chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate Dark chocolate
Strangest food you have eaten Spider, kangaroo and scorpion
Favorite Celebrity Ferran Adria