Christopher Graham, executive chef at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa warns young chefs to pursue experience over money.
Describe your first ever role in the F&B industry:
After leaving school, my first full-time job was working as a kitchen porter in a nursing home. It was exciting to work in a restaurant and it set my career path in a clear direction. As a result, I then decided to attend catering college and eventually start an apprenticeship.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
My father – he was a chef too! Throughout my career, following in his footsteps and making him proud has always been my biggest motivation.
How do you view the F&B scene in the region?
I view the F&B scene in Dubai as competitive and booming. With so many renowned dining establishments opening in the region, Dubai now has a wide array of exciting restaurants of different cuisines run by international professionals. However, At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa still holds an irresistible draw for diners demanding only the best from their F&B experience.
What is the biggest challenge of your role?
My biggest challenge would be the high volume of operation at our fine dining restaurant. We provide breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner from just one kitchen! However, I do find this can be a lot of fun as every day becomes an enjoyable challenge.
What is the best aspect of your role?
I enjoy the creative freedom, which allows me to develop new ideas and pass them onto my team. Luckily, my freedom is supported and encouraged by a great management team who want to see At.mosphere grow as much as I do.
If you could work in any restaurant in the world, which would it be?
I would say Eleven Madison Park in New York City. From attentive and friendly staff, to an excellent culinary experience with creative dishes, working at Eleven Madison Park would be a fascinating experience.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the F&B industry in the region?
Always follow the experience, not the money. It is important to know your way around an industry that is constantly developing and expanding. While this takes time and effort, the pay-off is always worth it.
October 2016 – present: Executive chef, At.mosphere Burj Khalifa, Dubai
May 2015 – October 2016: Group executive chef, FoodFund International, Dubai
August 2013 – May 2015: Executive sous chef, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai