After being told to change careers as an apprentice chef, Fernando Galbiati, executive chef, Trump International Golf Club explains how with persistence, hard work and passion he went on to achieve success.
Describe your first ever role in the F&B industry?
Having grown up in the small town of Seregno near Lake Como, my roots were planted from a young age for a future career as a chef. Homegrown, seasonal produce and farm-to-table living were part of the culture and daily life and I grew up watching and helping my mother as she prepared every dish from scratch. My first role was in Portofino, Italy, when I was 18 and later I attended private chef school at Collegio Ballerini and I undertook five years of technical training in Atlanta, US, and Madonna di Campiglio and Lake Garda, both in Italy.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
Food was my biggest inspiration; it takes great persistence, hard work and passion to keep going. When I was learning, I faced all sorts of daily challenges and it often wasn’t easy, however, it was my love for cooking that kept me going. When I first started out, I worked all summer with a highly talented chef, who at the end of my apprenticeship told me that because I couldn’t chop parsley correctly, I might as well change careers! This really dampened my spirits, but it didn’t stop me – my love of food reigned on and thankfully, inspired me enough to get me to where I am today!
What’s your signature dish?
Parsley was not the only herb to offer a defining moment in my career! On my very first day in the kitchen, I was tasked with cleaning out boxes of basil to prepare pesto, which sparked a long-lasting love of the fragrant herb and inspired me to create my signature dish, paccheri pasta with fresh tomato sauce, made with three different varieties: ricotta cheese, deep fried violet eggplant and basil leaves.
How do you view the F&B scene in the region?
Over the past five years I’ve been here, the ingredients used and the recipes created have evolved. Consumer tastes have also changed, with people searching for more authentic, homemade and organic dishes, and many looking for gluten- and dairy-free options. That said, people are now more open and eager to try all sorts of new foods and different cuisines, which is great for chefs like me who love to experiment in the kitchen. The introduction of food festivals and food trucks has also brought great culinary experience to the UAE and a variety of new dishes to the region, introducing a whole new meaning to F&B concepts.
What is the biggest challenge of your role?
The language barrier is probably my biggest challenge. It has always been easier for me to communicate through a dish or recipe!
What is the best aspect of your role?
I love the fact that we offer food for every tastebud. Whether it is fine Italian cuisine at Fifth Avenue, classic American dishes at The Terrace, light Arabic tapas at Assana or feel-good favourites at The Ninth Sports Café, guests can look forward to white glove service, meticulous attention to detail and dazzling interiors.
If you could work in any restaurant in the world, which would it be?
This is a hard one! I believe that I would be happy working in any restaurant in the world, as long as I was working with an enthusiastic and passionate team, who allowed me to create unique and imaginative dishes.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the F&B industry in the region?
If someone ever tells you that you can’t chop parsley, don’t listen to them. Always remember that you create your own destiny in life.
2015-2016: Sous chef, Social by Heinz Beck, Waldorf Astoria, Dubai
2013-2015: Head chef, Bice Restaurant at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
2012-2013: Sous chef, Cavalli Club, Restaurant & Lounge, Dubai