INTERVIEW with GUILLAUME KATOLA
Executive Chef, Rech by Alain Ducasse at InterContinental Hong Kong
Guillaume Katola has worked for Ducasse Paris for over a decade, serving at a myriad of Ducasse restaurants in Paris and beyond. He made his way up the culinary ladder starting with the 1-Michelin star Jules Verne Restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower, where he worked for seven years.
Guillaume also spent three years as the Executive Chef at Salon Première Air France, the restaurant in Air France’s First Class Lounge in Roissy, France operated by Alain Ducasse. He then spent two years as Executive Chef at The Grill at the Dorchester in London, which is also operated by Alain Ducasse, prior to his move earlier this year to become Executive Chef of Rech by Alain Ducasse at InterContinental Hong Kong.
His Ducasse work experience also includes Alain Ducasse Education Cooking School in Argenteuil, France and Ducasse’s Benoit, Champeaux, Aux Lyonnais and Ore at Château de Versailles.
“How would you describe your overall “Alain Ducasse” experience in 3 words? Why?”
It is quite difficult to describe this experience in merely 3 words. What I have learned from the various Ducasse teams with whom I have worked is inestimable. We always learned how to appreciate each others’ work. Being curious is important. I believe that is one of my best qualities as a chef; and I have cultivated this while being trained with Alain Ducasse’s spirit.
Enriching, collaborative, passionate.
“Do you have any precious and unforgettable memories that you would like to share, for example the first meal that you have cooked?”
“I was born in the countryside, and my culinary philosophy is built on my first experiences with food there.”
When I was 10, I already discovered my passion for cuisine. I tried to cook different meals when I was young, some experimentations with simple ingredients from the farm. My first dish was a mix of everything that was at hand; it was simple but tasty. Gradually, I taught myself more about cuisine.
By making birthday dinners, preparing Christmas celebrations and cooking for friends, I improved my skills and aroused my appetite for cooking. I then attended hospitality school where I learned what is happening inside and outside the kitchen. I learned a lot and grew up so fast. Time flies.
Regarding my culinary training, my mom made the decision for me. She told me if I wanted to work in this industry, I should go to the best school. Determined to let me learn from the best, my mom sent me to Medéric Paris for my apprenticeship. It was an amazing experience which allowed me to grow up and experience different situations at school and in the kitchen. I discovered a whole new world.
Then over the past decade of working with Alain Ducasse Paris, I have gained invaluable experience.
With Alain Ducasse’s cuisine and savoir-faire, it is crucial to understand how to respect the product. The DNA is in his touch. Everything you see on the plate is edible. The main ingredient is fully visible and a whole experience is crafted around it. You re-discover the taste of nature and are surprised by sauces and condiments. We put effort in our cuisine to make it in a more sustainable way. We respect each product and its quality along with the sustainable and natural aspects.
You arrived few months ago in Hong Kong, is it challenging?
When I came in Hong Kong, it was challenging to adapt to a new environment, a new team, a new life. It requires patience. Throughout my career, I have learned to be patient and to familiarize myself in any situation in a multicultural environment. I have been in Paris, London and Hong Kong. Still, what is most important is to share Alain Ducasse’s spirit with my team and our guests.
My approach in the kitchen is seasonal, using the freshest products to create dishes that reflect the time of year. We work closely with our suppliers to source and provide the highest quality of fresh seasonal ingredients for our customers.
In Hong Kong, it is amazing to be constantly surprised by my team. They are dedicated, quick learners and eager to perfect their techniques. They are so keen on the culture of training and practice. I am learning from them too. We always keep learning from each other.
Do you have any tips for the young ones who would like to become a chef?
Be curious and stay curious along the way!
ABOUT RECH BY ALAIN DUCASSE
If you love fresh seafood, you’ll adore Rech by Alain Ducasse, the first international outpost of Paris’s most famous seafood restaurant.
An authentically French seafood experience, the 1-Michelin star Rech showcases the best fish, shellfish and oysters from France with Chef Ducasse’s personal interpretation and contemporary cuisine.