New Executive Chef Philippe Bossert Does The Job
By Nadia El Dasher
The Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino recently welcomed Chef Philippe Bossert as the space’s new Executive Chef.
Chef Bossert’s vision was to polish the city’s culinary standards and “give value to food,” as he put it. The chef had a big job ahead of him when he first arrived to Cairo; to revamp the hotel’s 14 restaurants and oversee the 1,200 rooms looked after by the room service department. How does one man take on such a big task? Bossert says it’s a simple mix of organization, managing the staff well and knowing your direction clearly from the start.
CWM: When did your relationship with the culinary world begin?
PB: My father is a chef so I was already surrounded by food while growing up. He had his own garden where he grew seasonal fruits and vegetables – he was crazy about it, waking up at 4 in the morning to care for delicate, white asparagus then working a full day as a chef in a restaurant. After watching my father, I knew I wanted to become a chef and, at 16 years old, started training at a three-star Michelin restaurant near my home in France.
What’s the biggest difference between managing a hotel versus a restaurant?
A chef in a restaurant doesn’t have the same vision as one in a hotel. I worked in a restaurant for 10 years to know what food is and to learn to cook, but after that I had to learn how to manage – it’s not the same thing at all. To get good results in such a big establishment you need communication. We’re not working with a staff of 10 like you would at a restaurant, here we have hundreds of workers and learning how to manage them is essential.
Where do you source your products?
For me a good dish is 60 per cent products and 40 per cent work and at the Marriott we get as many products from Egypt as possible. We have nice markets here that sell great fruits and vegetables – my goal is not to pick tomatoes from Holland when we have tomatoes in Egypt. For me that’s a shame, because a chef has to work with the country. When I work, I try to learn from the country I’m in as well as bring my own knowledge to it.
How have you brought your knowledge to the new menus being implemented throughout the hotel?
My vision was to take the best products I can find in Cairo and base my menus on what is available. There are some products like Foie Gras that I need to import but something like mangoes is easily accessible in Egypt. I want to combine what’s here with what we bring in to the country.
What are some of the difficulties you face as the executive chef?
Culinary-wise it’s not so easy to have consistency in quality and that’s so important. That, again, comes down to the consistency of the raw materials. If there are importation difficulties and we can’t get for example, Mascarpone, we won’t be able to make tiramisu – but that is out of our control.
Bossert hit the ground running with his new appointment as Executive Chef. His latest menu launch will be at the start of September with Saraya Gallery, the Marriott’s French bistro with an Egyptian flair.