Sun, 05 February 2023
Tucked away in Zallaq lies a tranquil retreat on the south-west coast of Bahrain. A new property on the luxury hotel scene in Bahrain, Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa, is the ultimate get away. Farrah Saville speaks to the resort’s Executive Chef, Olivier Catora.
Chef Olivier Catora, is the walking definition of ‘following your passion’. The French native worked in the advertising world for 10 years before finally pursuing his dream of becoming a chef which led him to the Middle East.
Now he is back in the Kingdom, for a second time and loving it! “I love Bahrain because of the people - whether it’s the locals or the expats. There is simplicity in the relationships people foster in Bahrain,” says Chef Olivier.
The new hotel, which recently launched its weekend brunch, offers an exciting offering both: in terms of accommodation and a veritable feast. Chef Olivier says guests visiting the hotel can expect a combination of various elements which caters to two types of customers: those looking for gourmet cuisine, and those looking for new flavours and styles. The resort also caters to those seeking classic food. “Across all our food we have three mandatory specifics: tasty, fresh and nourishing,” he says.
The Bordeaux-born culinary connoisseur explains that the food offered at Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa will be sophisticated and tasty but not complicated for guests’ palate while remaining visually contemporary. “Menus need to be consistent with the concept of the restaurant and truly authentic. Each cuisine must be attractive, different, unique but also easily understandable,” he says. “Therefore, the experience will be global but the reason to come and search for pleasure will be specific to each restaurant be it Italian, Oriental, Peruvian or otherwise.”
Aiming to source local would be another defining factor he adds: “For such a small country, Bahrain has a good approach to thinking local, especially with fruits and vegetables.”
Gluten-free, keto, vegan, as the world continues to change and develop so do dietary requirements. Chef Olivier is up for the challenge as he has studied nutrition and naturopathy in the last two years. “Culinary professionals play an essential role in these evolutions and must be ambassadors, in particular for healthy eating. Therefore, it’s necessary to adapt our know-how to these constraints and share our experience with the purpose of individual and collective well-being.”
To be different, Chef Olivier relies on the advertising concept by the renowned global advertising veteran and bestselling author, Jean Marie Dru: Convention - Disruption – Vision. With this concept in mind, Chef Olivier will showcase his ingenuity and ability to be different through an oriental Lamb Osso Bucco which will soon be available at the oriental restaurant, among others.
“I analyse the current standards and applications (Convention), break these conventions by bringing new ideas and specific values (Disruption) and explore how best to incorporate these differences (Vision). For instance, one would wonder how to present an Ouzi experience with an individual approach, which is different from the classic Ouzi that everyone knows and expects? That’s why I came up with the idea of the Lamb Osso Bucco sublimated by traditional and authentic Bahraini flavours,” he explains.
The hotel’s approach to nutrition will be cuisine that is more health oriented, more thoughtful and beneficial for bodily well-being and consequently for its general balance. “This will be a new culinary approach based on the most effective techniques, maximisation of the interdependence of ingredients and inspiration from world cuisine, according to health objectives and respect for our ecosystem. This thinking will become reality in Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa,” he says.
At 50-years-old, Chef Olivier says his passion for cooking comes from two things: creativity and pleasure. As for the skills required to be a good chef, “Only one: childhood curiosity,” he says. “Imagine a new born baby after three short years knows how to watch, speak, walk and laugh. I believe if you apprehend daily life like a small child with every day presenting moments to discover new experiences, your margin of progression and learning are unlimited.”
Chef Olivier’s approach to food follows the fundamentals of naturopathy and chronobiology following three rules. “There are no foods provided by nature that are harmful, it is not the food which is harmful but its excess or its insufficiency in the food ration, and we must eat everything, as natural as possible but not at any time of the day,” he explains.
“As for my cooking philosophy, I intend to be creative to propose a new culinary experience. Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa is the best resort to offer this life experience where the possibilities are unlimited and not only in cuisine,” he smiles.