5 Minutes with the Chef: Jordi Vila, Constance Halaveli Maldives

5-Minutes-with-the-Chef-Jordi-VilaIn this series, we speak to some of the country’s busiest chefs and ask them to share a favourite recipe. In this edition, we talk to the Executive Chef at Constance Halaveli Maldives, Jordi Vila. Chef Vila hails from Spain and has worked at some of the busiest restaurants in the world. He arrived at Constance Halaveli in 2014 and describes his time in the Maldives as one of the more eye-opening experiences he’s ever had. Speaking to Hotelier Maldives about his job title and his responsibilities as the executive chef at the resort, Chef Vila says he takes his cooking very personally and explains that the most important part about being a chef is to make sure that the customers keep coming back. “We already have a lot of repeater guests on the island, which means that we are doing something right here,” he explains.  An avid traveller with an interest in experimenting with exotic food from all over the world, Chef Vila says the food he creates are his interpretations of his travels around the world.

Could you tell me a little bit about how and when you started your career in the business?

Well all throughout my childhood and my teenage years, my parents ran a few restaurants in Barcelona. I was always very enthusiastic about food, so at the age of 15, I started helping out my family at the restaurants. I would say that that is how I initially started off, by doing the odd little things around the kitchen. But as the days went by my interest in the kitchen and how the chefs worked grew, so I started training as a pastry chef. But as I grew older, I wanted to expand my knowledge and get more into the business so I started working at hot kitchens as well. At the age of 20 I started travelling around the world, in an attempt to learn more and broaden my horizon in the field. And so after having worked all over the world, here I am.

You have worked in many different countries around the world. What has been the biggest challenge in working in the Maldives?

It is very challenging, in terms of buying products and getting them to the island. In the beginning, I needed to work months ahead, because to get the fruits, wines, vegetables, everything to this resort (island) wasn’t easy at first. I have learned how to work my way around it, and it has gotten easier with time. I would also say the multi-national team of staff we have on this island has also taught me a lot, in terms of varieties and their unique methods of cooking. Everyone brings their own traditional and cultural style. I enjoy learning from them, as well as teaching them.

Who has been you’re biggest strength and support?

My customers. Making them happy with the food I create gives me the strength and motivation to do even better. I take my cooking very personally so all the comments and criticism a customer makes I take it to heart. Making them happy, satisfying them with the dishes I create, receiving an appreciative word about the food gives me the strength to do even better.

If you could eat at any restaurant in the world, where would it be and why?

I would definitely choose the Tapas bar, Cal pep in Barcelona. This is one of the best places in the world for Tapas, everything is perfect from the food to the service and wine.What is your favorite dish to create at the resort and could you share the recipe with us?

Foie Gras “ROCHER”

Ingredients:

  • 500g Skinned hazelnuts
  • Foie Gras Ganache
  • 750 g Foie Gras
  • 15g Salt
  • 3 g Sugar
  • 5 g pink salt
  • 300 g Heavy cream divided 75 g for dissolve the gelatin
  • 5 g Gelatin

Procedure:

  • Toast hazelnuts at 165 °C until golden brown.
  • Reserve 20 whole hazelnuts; chop the rest.
  • Reserve 20 whole hazelnuts for the centers of your “rochers.” You may not need all of them, but it’s good to have extras.
  • Roughly chop the other hazelnuts. Pass through #10 and #5 sieves. You want to have about 300 g of uniform-size chopped nuts for final garnish. Rechop or discard as needed.
  • Cook sous vide 54 °C for 30 minutes.
  • While foie is cooking, combine salt, curing salt, sugar, and cream. Set aside.
  • Pipe ganache into 30 mm hemisphere molds.
  • Fill an even number of hemispheres with foie gras ganache, so the ganache is flush with the top of the mold.

TIP: Place the mold in a baking tray and tap on the counter to flatten and even out the ganache.

  • In half of the hemispheres, carefully place a whole toasted hazelnut in the center of the ganache. Leave the other hemispheres with only ganache.
  • Cover and freeze About 1 hour.
  • Scoop out craters in half of the hemispheres.
  • Pipe ganache into 30 mm hemisphere molds.
  • Fill an even number of hemispheres with foie gras ganache, so the ganache is flush with the top of the mold.

TIP: Place the mold in a baking tray and tap on the counter to flatten and even out the ganache.

  • In half of the hemispheres, carefully place a whole toasted hazelnut in the center of the ganache. Leave the other hemispheres with only ganache