Olivier Catora, Executive Chef at Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort & Spa, talks about his culinary process, interesting developments this year and more.

How do you marry your culinary aesthetic and style with the Jumeirah brand?
What we try to do at Jumeirah Bahrain is to create an experience; a food experience. Therefore, in the hotel we have dishes from diverse cuisines such as Italian and Levantine; we have one Indian chef de cuisine and one German chef de cuisine. We combine all the international offerings and specialities in Bahrain to make the difference. Jumeirah is a GCC brand so we need to, of course, make our offering in line with the Arabic culture. Therefore, we have an Arabic restaurant, in addition to our all-day dining which is fusion but the technique, the taste, of course, comes from local culture. An example is our ouzi, which is served in our Arabic restaurant. We combine the Italian osso buco meat [traditionally braised with vegetables in a broth] with the rice dish. The food, however, is only part of the whole experience of staying in Jumeirah Bahrain. We have this special resort, you have the sea, activities and entertainment, a cinema, which I think makes it unique.

As Executive Chef, how do you lead your team of chefs to project their vision onto the guest experience?
I am very clear about what I want for the culinary experience. But if I do only what I want, it will not work. So, I give more freedom to my staff. I need to accept the sensibility and techniques especially for international cuisines. I ask them to do what they know first and then we can go to the second step, where we work together, put our ideas on paper. Sometimes it works and sometimes not – in France, we have a saying that you can’t make an omelette without cracking the egg, which means you need to make a mistake to reach what you want. We want to do something different but edible and something our guests can understand. I also tell my staff to think like a child. Every day you discover something. Don’t be afraid, be curious. We are like artists, we have the ingredients, we have techniques and we need to combine all of that to do something different but good. And now, we need to create emotion more and more – we need to call the five senses – it’s basic in a creative job as we eat with our eyes, with ears, with touch…

Tell us more about the new restaurants that will be opening at Jumeirah later this year. What type of cuisines and experiences can our readers expect?
We intend to launch a Peruvian concept by the end of this year. We have the kitchen; I have an idea what I want to do. I have drafted the menu and when the chef de cuisine joins, we will work closely with him. We are focused on the authenticity of the food. Authenticity comes by the chef when he puts his personality into the cooking. We need to find a way to preserve the taste with local ingredients or different ingredients. For instance, if we make bisque, traditionally it uses spirits. However, we can use cider vinegar which will not affect the taste. Right now, we are more focused with our other experiences. We have many live sessions during brunch and I push my staff to be open to possibilities; there are so many using just one ingredient. I tell them to ask guests their preference or to propose ideas to them.

How did you develop your signature dish, right from the inspiration to the choice of ingredients and flavours?
I made a dish of scallops with broccoli, cauliflower and beetroot mousse, something to reflect my personality. I like seafood, it has a lot of nutrients and good things for the body. It’s my speciality. Magret de Canard is another dish I prepare, which is very typical of my region [Bordeaux in France]. It’s duck breast, which is accompanied with a curry sauce and noodles [with Thai influences]. I may add this to the menu but not without giving it a local touch. ✤