Amaury Belkhanfar’s passion for cooking stemmed since he was young, helping his mother in the kitchen. His love for the culinary art has taken him on a journey through prestigious restaurants and hotels around the globe. Now he’s bringing his talent and vision as the new executive chef of Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort.
by Runi Indrani
E: How did you first get into the F&B industry? Has it always been your passion?
A: I was interested in the F&B industry since I was a young boy. At home I always watched and helped my mom cook. I saw how my mother worked with the ingredients, transforming them all into a dish just cooking at home, and this is what gave me the passion to cook.
E: How did you decide to move to Indonesia?
A: I was really interested in Asia, Southeast Asia to be particular, and I always heard that Bali and Indonesia were wonderful. Also, because Indonesia has a lot of their own cultural food, with the spices, the colours, it’s really something different. So, I really wanted to try and I’m really happy with my decision.
E: What or who is the inspiration of your culinary creations?
A: When you start in the kitchen, when you were little or when you started your career, you observe to master the art of cooking. You watch the process of cooking, plating, learning, and you’re absorbing all of this information until one day you realise that you’re ready to have your own character and your own style of cooking. The inspirations also come from your surroundings, the nature, TV, friends, the professionals, and the chefs that you don’t even know.
E: What is the most memorable moment in your career so far?
A: When I was working in New York City for the three Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud. In 2009, the newly elected President Barack Obama had chosen Chef Daniel to cook a special, private dinner, so it was really intimate. No media, no protocols, no official things. We got to know the president in a different way. At the end, we drank together, we ate together, and it was my best memory.
E: What is the biggest challenge you’ve come across and how did you overcome it?
A: The whole journey is a challenge, from the first day I started in the kitchen, peeling my first carrot, I emptied my first chicken, it’s a constant challenge. There’s always going to be a challenge continuously until now. That’s what exciting about this job.
E: Can you share your plans for Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort moving forward?
A: Sofitel has always been a great hotel, very famous, successful and beautiful. That’s why I’m so proud and happy to be part of this new adventure, to contribute to the success in the future, and to be part of this amazing journey. I’m bringing my talent and my vision to highlight Sofitel’s passion for gastronomy.
E: This is not the first time you have lead a team as an executive chef. What do you think is the key to success in leadership?
A: The key to success for me is determination and the discipline. But you have to find the right balance to be also good, understanding and nice to the people that you lead. If you find the equilibrium, you’re good.
E: Do you have a recipe that will always be your personal favourite?
A: I’m an epicurean, so I’m always interested in everything. I love to discover new products, try to do this and that. Of course, I’m specialised in French cuisine and I love to make some really specific dishes, but I have the chance to make really different recipes every day, so I’m interested in them all, and that’s where the passion lies.
E: What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career in the F&B industry?
A: I have two points of view to share about this. The first, the F&B industry – in particular, culinary – is wonderful. You meet new people, you work with such interesting products, all of your colleagues become your family, you can work all around the world. On the other hand, it is challenging and stressful, it requires a lot of sacrifices, and has a small margin of error. So overall, it’s a beautiful job, but only do it if you really want to, not because you saw Top Chef on TV. It requires your full dedication, so you need to be passionate about it.
Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort