Lifestyle

From the Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

Both Chef Xavier Boyer and Chef Fernando Perez Arellano agree on one thing – Michelin Stars are not the goal, but a recognition of hard work and effort to please the guests

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

The taste of Mediterranean would not be the same without them - two superb Chefs, Xavier Boyer and Fernando Perez Arellano, are the culinary geniuses who have undoubtedly raised the Mediterranean diet to the ultimate artistic level. Boyer built his culinary career in some of the most famous French restaurants, obtaining the Michelin stars along the way. He has been working in the renowned Gaddi’s Restaurant in The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong since February 2016. He terms himself a ‘modern classic’ who likes to refer to the well-proven flavours.

Fernando Perez Arellano mastered his culinary art in several top-notch restaurants in Dublin, London and Naples, opening his own restaurant Zaranda in Madrid in September 2005, winning the prestigious Michelin stars during its first year. Five years later, he opened Zaranda on Mallorca, recapturing the success. Today, Zaranda is renowned as one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in Spain. However, the main incentive for creating interesting tastes is always a satisfied guest, while the stars serve as a mere acknowledgement that the effort pays off.

10 questions for Chef  Xavier Boyer


1. How did your culinary career start and why did you want to become a chef?

- My career started at the age of 15, when I became an apprentice for Mr Robuchon. I was always passionate about food and my mother had a restaurant in the Caribbean when I was a child. Therefore, I always liked to help her and be surrounded by food.

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

2. You have worked in many restaurants around the globe and with many famous chefs. Who among them had the biggest influence on you?
- Yes, I worked in many restaurants around the world, but since I worked for Mr Robuchon for more than 14 years, it was him who influenced my work the most.
Author’s note: Joël Robuchon is a famous French Chef and restaurant owner, proclaimed the “Chef of the Century” by the Gault Millau Guide in 1989.
3. How difficult is the path towards the Michelin Star award?
- Michelin star is not a goal, but a recognition. We always work very hard in a way to respect the season’s products, and for the customers’ satisfaction. The happiness we can provide to the costumers is the reason that makes us work harder. If we have the Michelin Guide recognition, it is a plus for the whole team.
4. Did your work change, and how?
- Receiving remarks from the Guide does change us since they come from relevant professionals and we always keep them in mind.
5. What is your signature dish?
- I do not have a signature dish, because I do not like having one. This is the reason I can always find inspiration in the dishes that I made in the past, and which I can modify as I want.

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

6. What inspires you in your work and how would you describe your culinary philosophy?
- I am primarily inspired by travels, because I can discover new flavours and new combinations. My family comes from the south of France, so the Mediterranean influenced me as well. I would describe my cooking philosophy as ‘less is more’.
7. What is the secret of a good restaurant?
- For me, the secret of a good restaurant is the integrity of the chef and the welcoming staff.
8. What future challenges and developments do you foresee in the restaurant business?
- Right now, the challenge I am facing is to take Gaddi’s to an even higher level of excellence than the one it is currently at.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a chef?
- The first advice I would give to a person who wants to become a chef is to work hard and to taste as many various flavours as they can.

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

10. What do you like to cook the most when you are not working – just to eat at home?
- I like to cook roast chicken, mashed potatoes with olive oil and with the perfect chicken jus.

10 questions for Chef  Fernando Perez Arellano


1. How did your culinary career start and why did you want to become a chef?

- I started to wash dishes in a restaurant when I was 18 because I tried to support my stay in Dublin where I spent few months in order to improve my English. Working in the kitchen, and also the fact that I was living by myself, and therefore had to look after my own meals, gave me an interest in cooking.

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

2. You have worked in many restaurants around the globe, with many famous chefs. Who among them had the biggest influence on you?
- All of them are very present in who I am and in my style of cooking nowadays. There are also many other chefs whom I did not have the chance to work with but who, nevertheless, have an impact on the way I approach food. It would not be fair to name one in particular.
3. How difficult is the path towards the Michelin Star award?
- I can say I turned from a teenager into a man the day that I first felt the pressure of having to deliver quality food, cleanly and neatly presented, at the right temperature and at the right time. After a few weeks of doing that, I realised that I had to get used to that pressure and
routine for the rest of my life. Since then, it has become my lifestyle and passion, forgetting about any former hobbies I had as a youngster. I guess Michelin Stars are a consequence of this.

4. Did your work change, and how?
- Absolutely not. Stars are the consequence, never the cause.
5. What is your signature dish?
- The black egg is most probably the best known and recognised among all our dishes…

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

6. What inspires you in the kitchen and how would you describe your culinary philosophy?
- Inspiration varies. Certainly, my surroundings, the seasons, my background, my trips, my lifestyle, all play a very important role in my creativity. Therefore, my cooking has a traditional soul, an academic heart, a vanguard character and a global influenced personality.
7. What is the secret of a good restaurant?
- There are many parameters to take into account and every restaurant has its own assets and reasons for the people to go there. Generally, I can say that there is no good restaurant without a happy staff, happy food and happy customers.
8. What future challenges and developments do you foresee in the restaurant business?
- Cooking and restaurants are becoming more and more popular at all levels. I believe the industry is going towards the interaction when it comes to gastronomic restaurants and towards hybrid concepts (drinks, music, food, atmosphere), and also when it comes to friend and family restaurants (bistro, brasserie, etc.). The old luxury and silver service is out of fashion.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a chef?
- Make sure the lifestyle of this industry matches your personality. It is not all about passion for food… That is the main difference between a good cook and a chef.

From the  Kitchen to the Stars: 10 Questions for Two Superb Chefs

10. What do you like to cook the most when you are not working – just to eat at home?
- Paella, Pasta Amatriciana, Spanish omelette, a good steak or grilled fish.

 

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