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Chef of the Month: Franck Detrait – Park Hyatt Bangkok

The newly-opened Park Hyatt Bangkok is quickly making a big impression on the city’s luxury sector, and the man responsible for raising the culinary bar is the hotel’s first Executive Chef, Franck Detrait. Originally from France, and drawing upon a childhood influenced by the flavours of his parents’ native Provence and Bourguignon, Franck has enjoyed a rapid rise to his current position. His career began with the Hyatt family at Pur’, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme’s one star Michelin restaurant under the tutelage of Jean-François Rouquette. He advanced to a role as Executive Sous Chef at Park Hyatt Dubai, and made his debut as Executive Chef at Hyatt Paris Madeleine before moving on to a similar post at Park Hyatt Sydney. Franck describes his art as “authentic and contemporary”, and recently agreed to share some of his secrets with Hotelintel…

What are the top 3 ingredients you always have in your home kitchen?

Cheese, ham, and wine.

What is your favorite season to cook?

Definitely spring. Although there is no spring in Thailand, we are very fortunate to get fresh products imported from France and Australia. There are always fresh peas, asparagus, and zucchini flowers coming in; these are fresh vegetables that can be eaten raw because they are so sweet, they are not bitter at all.

What was the first meal you ever cooked by yourself? How was it?

I do remember making crêpes because my father would have them all the time. There was no school on Wednesday afternoon in France and when my father was at home, he would make me some crêpes. However, one afternoon he wasn’t there so I decided to make some myself. But from the age of three or four I would always help my mom in the kitchen – sit on the table and peel vegetables – so now I do the same with my daughter.

And how were the crêpes?

I can’t remember now, but I know they looked very messy.

What are your thoughts on fusion cuisine?

What is fusion? To me, fusion is not a word to define cuisine. Maybe it is just an association of products, flavours, and tastes. I love to combine flavours, but I would never call it fusion – I would always call it just a combination of flavors. It is an inspiration.  

As a chef, do you need to be able to work with local flavors?

Yes, we have to. In the kitchen, we are not French, Italian, or German. We can create whatever we want. Working with Thai products, such as mangoes, inspires me to combine the Western and Eastern flavours. The mangoes have such a delicate taste; there is no need to westernize the fruit.  But at the weekend I go to the markets, and if I see something new, I have to try it.

What is your advice to someone who aspires to become a 5-star hotel chef?

Being passionate is very important. Also sharing knowledge, because you cannot be everywhere, so you need to share to build a good team spirit. And you have to enjoy what you are doing. But what I think is most important is being able to deliver pleasure to the customers through your food, so you must always be alert to guest expectations and feedback.

What are your kitchen rules?

The chefs need to have the right attitude. They have to be willing to work a lot of hours and need to be able to deal with the pressure. The chefs also have to be willing to learn. If you love giving pleasure to guests then you are part of the team. We have a great team spirit but work is work.

And finally, what are your top priorities right now for the Park Hyatt Bangkok?

To satisfy all the customers – we have a lot of repeat guests already which is a good sign. Then we need to establish a reputation for all the restaurants here. The chefs work so hard to earn recognition and build a reputation. And most of all I want to be honest with my customers, and give them good quality and good pricing.

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