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Chef Thierry Papillier on gastronomy in Egypt

The Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel, Nile Plaza Cairo, Chef Thierry Papillier tells Ahram Online his thoughts on gastronomy in Egypt

Interview by Dahlia Ferrer, Saturday 24 Dec 2011
Chef Thierry Papillier, Executive Chef
Four Seasons, Nile Plaza
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At 29, Chef Thierry Papillier has worked in top restaurants in France and cooked for presidents, movie stars and dignitaries. His rare talent of combining tradition with innovation, together with flawless execution, have helped him achieve culinary excellence that is well beyond his years.

As Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo, Nile Plaza, he wows guests with authentic Egyptian, Italian, Chinese, French and Middle-eastern cuisine, offered in the Hotel's nine dining venues.

1. What is the state of Egyptian gastronomy in hotels versus the street?

Well the Hotels are certainly more advanced in terms of gastronomy versus the street, partly because most of the hotels employ chefs who tend to be more aware of proper techniques and food trends.

2. What is your favorite restaurant in Egypt? (other than yours!)

Hanan Restaurant in Zamalek: this is a very convivial Korean restaurant with the barbecue in the middle of the table. The concept is after you choose your meat or seafood you cook it in the barbecue in front of you. Around this barbecue they provide many kinds of salads to compliment your meal.

3. Do you have suggestions for gourmet-ifying Egyptian food?

Take the time to do the food properly. Don't rush, and maintain a high standards inhygiene and techniques.

4. What are the most important skills of a modern-day chef?

Standards. It doesn't sound like a technique, but you will be surprised how many chefs are not consistent. Add to this, for a chef to be consistent, as all guest have an expectation. If the guest comes for the second or third time, they need to see that the item than they ordered at their last visit will be the same. The entire reputation of the chef will be based on consistency of their product, presentation and taste.

5. What are the newest trends in gastronomy?

Local available seasonal product cooked fresh from farm to table,

6. What is being appreciated around the world and what is being opened here in Egypt?

Sushi is very popular around the world and has really caught on here in Egypt. As we can see now in Egypt a lot of sushi restaurants have been opening these last three years and they are all working well.

7. How much do you rely on molecular gastronomy?

Not very much in Egypt. This is a skill that requires the right equipment, personnel in the kitchen, training , ingredients and customers. Only a few restaurants around the world can  successfully pull this off. Here in Egypt these "new techniques" are not pretty,.  as they are too avant garde.

8. What are the newest trends in the restaurant business?

The introduction of technology and how it can be used within the business. Examples include kitchens that are completely paperless. Ipads offered as menus with a picture so that the guest can now know how this dishes will look like in advance.

9. Who is your favourite chef?

Thierry Mark, as I have been working for him and also because He is one of the chef "out of the box " always in experimentation of new combination, creating new taste, new presentation.

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