“Jordi Vila describes his journey from helping out in family restau- rants in Barcelona to becoming Executive Chef at Constance Le- muria, on the island of Praslin, Seychelles, where he has the free- dom to bring forth his experience and creativity to create unique dishes to tantalise the taste buds of the clientele.”
The position of Executive Chef at Constance Lemuria, on the north-western side of Praslin island, Seychelles, is one which Jordi Vila truly relishes. Constance Lemu- ria is one of two Constance Group luxury hotels in the Seychelles, which opened inDecember 1999. The five-star eco-friendly hotel is one of the Leading Hotels in theWorld, and it has five restaurants offering a range of different cuisines.
So what is it like working at the heart of the culinary operations of the hotel?
Jordi explains that “at Constance Lemuria the concept of “cooking” is about perfection and precise timing – everything has to be on time! Operating the timing of the restaurants, the time service of our restaurant and kitchen team, the timing of the dishes, how long does it take to prepare a dish and the pace of the guests according to their needs, therefore during the day I am busy with many timings! It is difficult to balance home and work as a Chef, considering as well that it is not easy in a small island like Praslin and I can say that my “normal” working day reflects many timings, many meetings and of course the passion for food.
PLANNING THE DAY
The life of an Executive Chef is certainly a busy one with many meetings and activities over the course of the day. “Every day I wake up at 7am! At 8am I have my first meeting over a coffee with my Executive Sous Chef, and at 8.30am I have my second meeting with all the heads of the departments where we all discuss the daily operations. At 11am, I have my third meeting with all the chefs de cuisine in my office and my last meeting is at 1pm, with the team from the ‘Diva’ restaurant where we always brainstorm new menus, new concepts and trends,” Jordi explains.
In terms of his evening routine, “at 6 pm I start to supervise all the restaurants: our main buffet restaurant ‘Legend’, our Creole restaurant ‘The Nest’, private and exclusive dinners and our fine dining ‘Diva’ restaurant, where I work until 10pm, and at 11.30pm I have my first glass of wine…”
DEVELOPING CREATIVE SKILLS
Jordi has been working for Constance Group for the last four years and at Lemuria since January 2018. Describing his move to the company, Jordi comments that “what attracted me mostly was the freedom that was given to me to run the culinary team. It has been a good opportunity for me as well because Constance Group is well known and popular for its passion for wine and culinary experience. I just knew, from the beginning, that the Constance Group was giving me the chance to develop my creative skills with high quality products. For a Chef it is priceless to work with the best products in the world! I can surely say that Constance Lemuria is an essential port of call for lovers of rejuvenated traditional gastronomy,” he adds.
He also highlights that Constance Lemuria has a focus on local products. “At ‘The Legend’ and ‘The Nest’ restaurants we offer a big variety of local cuisine using local products such as rice, fish, pork, pineapple, mango, okra, breadfruit, pumpkin, eggplant, cabbage, exotic fruits, watermelon, chili, curry leaves and, of course, a lot of coconut,” he says.
“The sea is a real source of inspiration which provides me power and creativity”
ROAD FROM BARCELONA
So how did Jordi end up as Executive Chef at Constance Lemuria? “Well, throughout my childhood and my teenage years, my family ran a few restaurants in Barcelona. I have always been very enthusiastic about the culinary arts, hence when I turned 15, I started helping out my family at the restaurants,” he explains.
From his early days, doing odd jobs around the kitchen, Jordi’s interest in the culinary field and Chefs continued to grow, which led him to undertake a traineeship as a pastry Chef. “However, with more maturity, I chose to develop my knowledge and get closer to the business area. Hence, I have diverted my skills from pastry to the hot kitchen side,” he comments.
At the age of 20, Jordi started travelling around the world as his ultimate goal was to attempt to learn more and broaden his horizons in this field, and finally he has worked all over the world.
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE
While Jordi has already come a long way from his starting point, he has a number of new projects in the pipeline. “I have in mind a first project at Constance Lemuria with our Sushi Bar. I am planning to elab- orate a very personal tasting menu called “By the Sea”. The idea is to combine Japanese and Spanish products and maximize the umami’s flavours by using only seasonal products. The concept is to create a different menu each morning which will be served at dinner time. Therefore, we will offer new dishes on the menu on a daily basis which means a lot of creativity, and there will be only 15 seats available,” he elaborates.
He has a second project in the offing which is to implement a special menu called “The Raw” which will be served at the counter of ‘Diva’ restaurant, which is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. “This menu will be tailor-made with the best products and the concept will be simply based on applying less heat to the ingredients. By using this method, it will allow the product to be served in its purest form and to be the centre of the nutritious natural flavor,” he enthuses, with the seating capacity to be around 10 seats for this special experience.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
To sum up, what are the key sources of in- spiration for Jordi as he seeks to improve the experience for his customers? First of all, Jordi highlights that “the sea is a real source of inspiration which provides me power and creativity”.
Secondly, and more directly, Jordi ex-plains that his customers give him the drive towards constant improvement of his creativity, day by day. “I must admit that my way to cook is a real personal interpretation,” he admits. “Hence, with any comment or criticism a customer might mention to me, I usually take it to heart but always in a positive way. My only goal is their satisfaction and to make them happy with the dishes I create. When I receive any comment or encourage- ment from them, it provides me with the strength to do even better and try to go always higher.”