Island Chief Sits down with Giovanni De Ambrosis, executive Italian Brand Chef of Cocoon Maldives to talk about his career as he shares with the story of how he came to reside as a chef in the Maldives and conveys his thoughts about food and his life as a chef.
1.Why did you decide to become a chef? What other back-of-the-house positions have you previously held?
Everything started when I was a child still,13 years old. I was already sure of what I wanted to do with my life. Not a desk job but something hands on.
Because I liked to travel the word as I used to do and still am, I started to work in a pastry shop across my house when I was 13 years to help Liliana & Nello, the owners of the pastry shop.
During the same period a friend of my sister stayed at my home and he was a chef abroad a private yatch and his story inspired me to a great extent.
Like every other chef, I started out as a junior chef around Italy and Switzerland. My first experience as a chef was in the 2000 in Bormio (Italy mountain) and first experience outside EU was in 2001 in a 5 star hotel in Zanzibar which was my first introduction to a 5 star resort. I still keep in touch with them and they are for me my second family.
2. How did you manage to land a job in the Cocoon Maldives Resort? how did you feel when you got the job?
Alessandro Azzola, owner of Azemar, opened a five star resort called "Gold" in Zanzibar in 2013 . He called me for the start up and throughout the time I spent with him we became good friends. One year ago, over an aperitif in Milan, we met and he proposed to help him with the start up of Cocoon, The first design hotel in Maldives. I was feeling very excited, as It would be my first time in Maldives and I was confident in our ability to do a great job together and since have put down all my experiences of the world in cooking at Cocoon.
3.Did you go to culinary school? What credentials did you earn through your culinary studies?
Yes i did from 1991 to 1996 E. Maggia di Stresa in Italy, one of the best in the world, I am still in touch with them for student education and introduction on professional world.
I have earned many Hospitality and Management credentials including Food Cost and Hygiene.
4.How many employees report to you? What levels are the employees who are your direct reports?
Around 90 people from F&B and store department and the direct one are from Executive chef, F&B Manager, Restaurant Manager and Store Manager.
5.Tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it?
I don t have in my mind difficult situation, my job for me is like a HOBBY, so i don t consider anything difficult about it.
I like to stay on top of problems and issues, I like to have direct contact with guests to ensure they are happy.Sometimes when there is bad weather in Maldives guests become very difficult to manage so I arrange cooking classes for guests to make them happy and forget the rainy season.
Maybe it is a mistake, but I spend all my life learning through experience on the work and as such I have very little difficulties in my life.when you work with passion... more than half the work is done
6.What do you do to stay current on new trends? Describe two or three of the most interesting industry trends.
Like i said before i love travel and i go around finding new trends\concept. Here in cocoon I developed a live show cooking, guests loves it. It is one of the most popular trends in Italy. I search around Social Media Networks for a lot of new trends and I am constantly checking websites and around countries that I visit for new trends and ideas.
7.How do you ensure that the presentation of each dish is met by all the guests?
Experiences give the opportunity to understand guests culture and satisfy their taste. When is the chef to present the dish to a guest, with a good smile, they are always satisfied.
8.What are your thoughts on Healthy eating?
In the last 7 years the way of eating changed a lot and as such I have put a lot of effort to understand which product the industry was offering to the market.
For that reason I was given the opportunity to open, Tribeca, a lifestyle venue that offers wholesome and organic food options in a lounge bar environment.
Furthermore I have also opened a fresh and successful brand in Dubai, "under500". Under 500 is an innovative, healthy, home-style café concept that offers a wide selection of delicious, wholesome and healthy meal options under 500 calories and its expanding to new areas in the region.
9.What is your favorite cuisine to cook? How many different types of cuisine are you capable of producing?
For sure the Italian and Mediterranean cuisine are the two to reflect my origins. But in the last year I have shifted my focus on new preparation methods and on producing healthy food where I select the ingredients to be used personally. Thanks to my experiences around the world I have learned the international, fusion, African, Asian and south american cuisine. By implementing this knowledge I often like to bring about a creative touch to my recipes and to produce "concept" derived food.
10.Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
11.Besides work, how do you generally spend your free time in the resort?
To be honest I like to spend my day around the resort to make sure all operations run smoothly and enjoy talking to guests. That said, whenever I get the opportunity I love to dive and take part in water sports while exploring the beautiful island of Cocoon!!
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