Chef Batuhan Piatti, corporate executive chef at Billionaire Dubai, has held a variety of roles throughout his career, from TV presenter, to teacher. Here, he tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East all about what it takes to cook for a president, operating major restaurants and the cuisine at the luxurious venue.
Tell us a little about your journey, until you arrived in Dubai.
I grew up both in Istanbul and in Milan as the son of a Turkish father and an Italian mother. My culinary career has taken me to so many places, from hotels and restaurants in different countries with team members from around the world, to hosting TV programmes, writing books, teaching and consulting on various projects.
What were some career stepping stones that have always stayed with you?
There are a few stepping stones that have shaped and propelled my career forward. I was offered the role of executive chef by the renowned Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of the well-known Italian restaurant chain, to operate and launch the first Cipriani Restaurant located in The Edition Hotel in Istanbul (Mariott International).
Another highlight of my career was being a judge on the very first MasterChef in Turkey, where afterwards, I decided to continue working and starring in my very own travel and cooking TV show called Hayat Batuhan’a Güzel (Life is Beautiful for Batuhan).
And finally, my current role as head chef at Billionaire Life Group, where I develop and manage all culinary activities throughout our international venues from Sardinia Billionaire, Dubai Billionaire Mansion, London’s Twiga-Sumosan, London ‘s Crazy Pizza, Monaco Twiga and Crazy Fish, to Monaco Twiga Beach and finally the opening of Billionaire in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The menu at Billionaire incorporates New-Asian flavours and a nod to Italian cuisine; tell us more about the dishes and how you managed to craft them.
We crafted the menu bearing in mind that the food is part of the overall performance and experience of the evening. Our New-Asian flavours intrigue each and every kind of diner by offering different interpretations of certain dishes such as the steamed buns of spicy wagyu beef to the BILLIONAIRE maki roll, which also highlights the meat with asparagus, mushrooms and truffle sauce.
Paying homage to Italian cuisine, the menu showcases favourites, such as pasta and risotto, bringing them to an elevated level. All of our pasta is homemade and comes in a variety of forms like the spinach and ricotta ravioli with browned butter and sage, along with maltagliati with spicy lobster.
As a chef, my aim was to perfectly marry the two cuisines together, making sure that the technique, ingredients and flavours remained authentic yet distinct at the same time.
What sort of experience were you looking to create at Billionaire Dubai?
At all of Billionaire’s establishments, we’re looking to create a worldly experience, one that captivates and stays with you long after you leave the premises. At Billionaire Dubai, we wanted to continually surprise our guests, be it with the food, the attentive service or the live acts.
We’re always seeking to make sure that all attendees enjoy the novelties of Billionaire and guarantee their superiority and dynamism. Again, as a chef, the experience I’d want to portray is one that satisfies every palate, from the loyal Billionaire customer to the culinary connoisseur looking to experience it for the first time.
What are some of the most exciting aspects of managing a fine dining establishment?
One of the most exciting aspects of managing a fine dining establishment is that every day you’re faced with new opportunities and new challenges. Working alongside Billionaire Life’s management team is to work with true visionaries in the hospitality industry, who strive for excellence in anything they do. Following Flavio Briatore’s footsteps, there’s always a vision, a method and a purpose to what we do, and I apply this to my kitchen as well.
There’s truly never a dull moment. Now, with Billionaire’s opening in Riyadh, we’re all highly motivated towards making sure that all the elements, especially the cuisine, remain at their highest standards, while striving for excellence.
Was there any particular request from a guest that you remember until now?
During my career, I have had the opportunity to serve many celebrities, sports champions and heads of state. One of the most interesting experiences was when I cooked for US President Barack Obama with four of his Secret Service agents in the kitchen. The simple menu consisted of a medium-rare Ribeye with a fennel and smoked salmon salad. All the ingredients were strictly brought to them from the United States for security reasons.
Another interesting encounter was when the very famous group, R.E.M, ordered more than 15 club sandwiches for the entire evening and paired them with Don Perignon Rosé Vintage.
What is your comfort food and how do you stay inspired?
For sure, as an Italian, my comfort food consists of fresh pasta dishes that I can eat every day without getting bored. When one works in the kitchen, they develop very different and alternating feeding times.
I hardly eat until 5pm and when hunger strikes, I prepare a meal for myself which I then implement as a special of the day. So, the hunger and cravings I experience actually give me a helping hand in being creative.
Chef Batuhan, what are some dreams that you aim to achieve in the coming years?
I am not inclined to do certain tasks repeatedly, therefore, for Billionaire, which is a constantly developing and expanding brand, I have the opportunity to grow continuously with new challenges.