A Taste For Everybody At Kurumba Maldives
The food and beverage industry in the Maldives has grown rapidly within the past few years. The pressures of social media, everyone claiming to be healthy eaters loving the organic food. We wanted to have a chat with the newly appointed Executive Chef at Kurumba Maldives Chef Dennis Vecchiato and Food and Beverage Director Jose Xavier to hear their take on the news. Aside from that, we wanted to get their opinions on the newest food culture and local cuisines. But before we do, here’s a brief introduction on both new appointees.
Chef Dennis hails from Italy and has a rich background working with the top 5-star hotels across Europe and Asia. His many years of experience and knowledge in the culinary department has given him a lot of recognition and today, Chef Dennis shares his expertise with the staff at Kurumba Maldives. Chef Dennis expressed his interest in wanting to visit the Maldives on account of the glorious sunny days and inviting crystal clear waters.
Photo: Chef Dennis Vecchiato
Jose Xavier worked at several well-known hotels across the globe. From Gibralter to Spain, Xavier has worked his way up the career ladder to his position at Kurumba Maldives. Hailing from Portugal, Xavier has a keen interest in exploring the food trends and applying his knowledge to his work today.
Photo: F&B Director Jose Xavier
MVHOTELS Travel Guide (MTG): There is a lot of talk about healthy eating and growing your own food organically. And as of late, everything we eat is posted on social media for the world to see before we eat it. What is your take on this new trend ?
Chef Dennis (CD): Social media, (he chuckles) of couse everyone wants to publish a photo of their food. It is so nicely garnished with leaves. I think social media is a good thing today. As you know, the in the past people did not have direct access to check what was healthy, what was not, or how to learn recipes. I use social media to my advantage. It plays a big role in advertising healthy foods. Images of beautiful plates and garnished meals give me an inspiration. It is a good platform for people to get more awareness on healthy eating and nutrients. Even the big corporations have allocated a lot of money to promote their culinary needs. Even here at Kurumba, we cater to every guests need. From vegetarian to lactose-free meals, we provide the guests with their required meal. Chefs are made aware of special ingredients so people can share and exchange ideas.
Jose Xavier (JX): Hospitality always has been a part of spreading of trends. Now trends and words spread faster because of social media and its not just impressive to guests, its equally important to staff as well. We see everything that happens in Kitchens in real time, and that can work to our advantage. In terms of healthy eating, we have always stayed ahead of the game. We make it a point to listen to the guests, to cater to their requests. Kurumba Maldives was one of the first resorts in the Maldives to introduce healthy eating.
CD: More and more healthy options, shops are coming up, even in the restaurants. Manu’s are prepared with a separate vegetarian section. I think it is an excellent means to spread awareness.
MTG: What about your produce ? How challenging is it to bring your produce to an island in the middle of no where ?
CD: Its actually no challenge. We bring our food overseas from France and Dubai. It gets here within 24 hours, fresh and hassle free. Kurumba Maldives has always maintained excellent relationships with their suppliers hence, it posses no problem for us. As part of our CSR, we like to shop locally. Tuna is definitely brought in locally, but it posses challenges because we only buy tuna which is fished from hook. It has to be sustainable, so we pay great attention and detail to our suppliers and how they produce them. We have our very own herb garden, and we grow our own chillies.
JX: As an F&B director, it is my job to take into consideration every guests demands and requests. I always try to infuse my previous experience and my knowledge of the local traditions and culture in creating an unforgettable gastronomical dream to our guests. Kurumba Maldives has fine tuned the art of catering to their guests. Every guest has a different requirement, but as you know we have 8 restaurants and 4 bars. There is literally something for every guest here.
MTG: Can you walk me through the process of creating new menus ?
CD: Well what we do is we study the previous menu. We analyse what people eat more, and what people do not enjoy as much. We pay attention to guest requests and their interests. So we do a lot of studying and discussing with sous chef’s and waiters before we head into the kitchen and brainstorm on whipping up something that will impress our guests.
JX: Menu engineering is very important. We have to take into consideration where our guests come from. We have to make an effort to follow the latest food trends, and guests style, their healthy eating trends, religions, and it just all basically comes down to paying great attention to detail.
MTG: What is your take on the ‘Stem to Root’ use of products when cooking for such a group of people ? ( use of whole produce, entirely )
CD: We don’t throw anything away in the kitchen here. Even when we skin the vegetables, we use it later too. If we can’t use it for food, we use it as fertiliser in our herb garden. Any edible items that we are unable to touch we make it as fertilisers. We have our own recycling centre, so whatever the kitchen cannot use can be used in the gardens. I am very proud to say that nothing from our kitchen goes to waste.
MTG: What about restaurant health and safety regulations ? How often do you conduct trainings ?
JX: Kurumba Maldives is in the top 5 hotels in the Maldives. We are just conducting a training today, and we did our inspection yesterday. We go back every 06 months and try to do a refresher course. I was really amazed when finding out that Kurumba Maldives has remained at the top of the game after the opening of 45 years. that says a lot about our management and safety standards, it is definitely a priority here. I came to Kurumba from some of the top luxury brands and to say that Kurumba Maldives has impressed me in terms of how they manage and run the entire hotel.
MTG: Lastly, i want to ask you about your take on local dishes. Since you’ve been here for a few weeks, I assume you have gotten the chance to taste a fe dishes and experience some Maldivian Foods.
CD: Oh i am glad you asked. Last week we had a cocktail party where we were served Maldivian short eats. I absolutely loved them! The rich taste and the fried food really struck a nerve. I like anything hot and spicy so the short eats are already my favorite!
JX: For me personally, because i am from Portugal, I found that some of the short eats were very similar to what we have back home. A lot of the ingredients feel the same, apart from your fresh tuna, but it feels very much the same. I loved it a lot. I have yet to experience your proper meal with Rice and Curries.