CHEF JORDI – “THE CHEF’S JOURNEY NEVER ENDS” Comments Off on CHEF JORDI – “THE CHEF’S JOURNEY NEVER ENDS” 2269

“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.”

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Mauritius B2B Hospitality magazine, a quarterly publication and blog for the industry professionals. Want to reach the hospitality decision makers in Mauritius/Rodrigues? Contact us +230 57 94 64 37 or [email protected]

THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN Comments Off on THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN 401

After the recent round of short interviews with hospitality leaders in the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, these were the key messages that will win customers back. 

MALDIVES – No social distancing, but a rather physical distancing in the Maldives.

One month ago the Maldives reopened the country borders to international travelers and since then, welcomed nearly 4500 tourists mainly from the UK, USA, UAE, Germany, Swiss, and Russia. With strict health and safety standard procedures implemented across the country, starting from the airport to the resort islands, the ‘new travelers’ have already voiced their appreciation for the level of care and hygiene on various social media and forums. But if being welcomed by the resort representatives wrapped in PPE and armed with face shield, gloves, and masks might not feel like the most relaxing start of a much-needed holiday, Afeef Hussain, Regional Director at LUX* Resorts in the Maldives, reassures that guests do love the feeling of safety 

“Being able to arrive at the resort and start enjoying their vacation right away not having to worry about anything, is what our guests want”

Together with high levels of hygiene, another key element to restoring travel confidence is the value of the experience. Afeef Hussain shares that the ‘new travelers’ are not going to spend the same amount of money they used to. Therefore, the value of the vacation is under great scrutiny and determines whether your customer might decide to return to your hotel or to travel somewhere else. 

“There is no such thing of ‘new normal’, but rather a ‘new mindset’”

To ensure that each action taken to uphold the hygiene standards at the resorts is mutually beneficial, Afeef says that whatever is done for the guests, is also done for the team members. This ensures their wellbeing and wellness and translates the Company’s core message of ‘care’ into action.

SRI LANKA – Borders are closed, but our resorts are not.

Sri Lanka has recently delayed the opening of the country borders, but hotels and resorts across the island are back in business with the local market. The execution of health and safety standards at each property has been instrumental to restore a domestic travel confidence, says Arjuna Perera – Sales Manager at Theme Resorts & SPA based in Colombo. To start with, Arjuna Perera and his team produced a video message to show all the procedures and reassure their customer base. 

‘We immediately created a survey, to help understand what are our customers’ priorities at this critical time’ 

But, as we know, the local market demand alone does not cover it. A voucher system propelled by Arjuna’s sales team successfully generated over 1000 room nights. This shows that flexibility is another key factor to encourage travel demand. Flights can be canceled or delayed, quarantine systems are changing by the day. ‘All we need is a bit of flexibility’ says Arjuna ‘and the results are showing us that people are keen to travel, they just want to feel safe’. 

But how do we ensure social distancing in Sri Lanka? For Theme Resorts & Spa, more than distancing, we talk about isolation, but in a good way. The nature experience of some of their properties is guaranteed to the point that to reach some of their glamping sites, you will have to be picked up by the hotel concierge somewhere in the jungle.

MAURITIUS – A contactless experience and smart use of technology.

As Mauritius prepares to reopen borders next month, the health & safety checklist of the destination seems to grow longer.

The use of technology, however, plays a key role in the destination, currently undergoing a digital transformation with a brand new website, a travel platform in the making and a range of digital solutions for tourists. Airline and travel industry expert Youvraj Seeam, based in Mauritius, shares that to pick up on travel confidence, we first have to observe the consumers’ changing behaviors and thereafter understand the new demands.

“For this to be truly successful, we need collaboration with all the stakeholders across the industry”

Youvraj shares that tools like the Travel Recovery Insights Portal of ARC & Boston Consulting, the McKinsey Travel Pulse, or the Traveller Trends Tracker by Adara must be on top of today’s agenda for the modern marketer. This would enable industry leaders to have more visibility and start making progress along the way.

Based on his experience in the airline industry, the key message needs to revolve around hygiene standards and procedures from the moment the traveler checks-in, boards the plane and reaches the destination. Once arrived, says Youvraj, a contactless experience needs to be in place to ensure a safe transit until the guest ultimately reaches the hotel.

 About the author:

Dolores Semeraro is a multilingual professional speaker and trainer, fluent in the Chinese language. She provides strategic direction and training courses to companies and tourism institutions helping them to speak today’s digital language of their audience. Her vision is to create a sustainable digital connection between travel industry stakeholders and their desired customers.

IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS Comments Off on IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS 479

IT’S NOW OR NEVER, I am only tired, as the song goes and so says mother Earth after years and years of succumbing to the filth that are being spilled into her bosom by the 7 billion of us.

 We are at a crossroad and an eye-opening moment that have to be reckoned with. The changes to the way we live, the way we do business and the way we conduct ourselves in this world will happen whether we like it or not. It will be subtle and forcing us to be the architect of this change – it’s another industrial revolution enabling humans to evolve into a more conscientious being for the benefit of all and mother nature. And it’s worth mentioning here the abrupt change we are witnessing in the hospitality industry. 

Being reliant on large number of human capitals, the hospitality industry has been the most affected by the global pandemic, like no other. Think about it, its an industry that needs an intensive labour force to serve its consumers, it needs the use of fossil fuel to allow its consumers to travel and at the core of the travel industry there is the need for the Oil & Gas producers to power the planes and run the establishment that serves the hospitality industry. So, it’s an industry that at the core, survives and becomes profitable on the demands and supply within the Petroleum Market – for instance, when we see a low cost of crude, the demand rises, consumption rises and tourist travels. On the other hand, as the demand for Petroleum products rises, we see a rise in production which accompanies the rise in crude price. At the same time industrial catering contracts are signed in numbers around the Middle Eastern oil producing countries to support the crude majors, like BP or Total, and their service partners.

Then sometime in March 2020 the world stopped…

As every human activity came to a standstill, the price of crude oil stumbled and crashed as the demands crumbled. Unfortunately, we have made crude oil the center of our existential activities; that businesses linked to its production, whether directly or indirectly, are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic period. This is a true portrait of our vulnerability as humans who have become too dependent on fossil fuel – the only matter that is damaging our beloved mother Earth.

In light of the new normal as we fashionably call it these days, the only way forward for the hospitality industry, but more certainly for the industrial catering sector, is automation and robotics with a change in attitude within the concept by all stakeholders and consumers. This in turn will reduce the heavy reliance on large manpower thereby improving profitability which has hit the industry since the fall of crude price. Although change is a pill hardly accepted by people entrenched within a certain framework and mindset, and unless changes are actuated, the hospitality industry may lose the precious backing of the investors. 

How can we forge this sudden change then…? One aspect with the labour intensive hospitality industry is to use automation and robotics wherever possible but still remain within the framework of good practice. For instance, within the kitchen we have already started using automation when it comes to the processing of veggies, washing up of cutleries, pots and pans. What we need now would be the autonomous self-cleaning equipment – in the domestic market we already have self-cleaning oven – with a bit of imagination we can have self-cleaning combo oven and cooking plates inserted on a stainless free stove where every debris or liquids drops into an underlying tray from where they are sucked into garbage cannisters. The idea here is to reduce the manpower wherever possible and keep only the chef and a small brigade to assist him in the mass production. 

The other crucial change within the industrial catering facility, most appropriately, would be the implementation of self-service as a general rule of the game. This will limit human contact and adheres to the on-going rule of distancing as applied in the pandemic situation. The onus will then be on the catering team to properly and intelligently prepare the plated layout which is then collected by the consumers. This process will help on portion control amongst other things, which is important in controlling the cost. 

Obviously, the arguments for change and innovation within the hospitality industry is a hot subject at the moment and should be for quite some time. After all we do not know when the pandemic will subside nor when will a real cure be found! However, we have already engaged in a new way of living and a new way of doing business, which in the industrial catering sector it means finding innovative ways to reduce the reliance on large manpower and engaging strategic actions to reduce the cost of doing business in order to be more profitable.

Let’s hope at the end of the day, the right course of action is taken with the interest of all the stakeholders considered and enough investments are made to meet up the challenge of considerable change. 

Marc WILLIAMS