A chef's true challenge lies not in personal preference, but in exceeding guests' expectations.

Christian Hinckley is a seasoned Executive Chef with 20-plus years of professional cooking and kitchen management experience. Since March 2023, he has been leading the culinary team at Centara Reserve Samui, where he continues to showcase his exemplary leadership and culinary expertise. Previously,Christian held prominent positions at esteemed establishments such as Park Hyatt Bangkok, Capella Singapore, and Aman Resorts. Known for elevating dining experiences and achieving significant milestones, his diverse international experience and commitment to excellence make him a distinguished figure in the culinary world.

How did you get started in the culinary world?

My love affair with kitchens began unexpectedly. As a high school student, a dishwasher gig for extra cash turned into a passion for the fast-paced world of cooking. This passion burned bright through college, leading me to ditch the textbooks and pursue culinary school in Vancouver, BC.

At culinary school, I craved a strong foundation. The mantra 'work under great chefs' became my guiding light. After graduation, I landed a dream position at Café Campagne in Seattle under Chef Daisley Gordon, who became my mentor and shaped me into a capable chef and leader.

Next came a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – working with legendary 'Chef of the Century,' Joel Robuchon, at The Mansion in Las Vegas. But my heart desired both culinary exploration and travel. So, when Aman offered a position in the Kingdom of Bhutan, I jumped at the chance. Since arriving in Asia in 2007, it has been my culinary playground, where embracing diverse cultures and cuisines has been an incredible blessing. From Bhutan's unique flavours to the delights of Samui and Centara Reserve, my journey continues to unfold.

What brought you to Centara Reserve Samui and what do you enjoy most about working here?

It was never part of the plan; however, most of my career has not gone according to any plan. I’ve always been big on opportunities that present themselves organically to continue learning, growing, and being challenged daily. Centara Reserve ticks all those boxes. The blue skies and sandy beaches are a bonus and a welcome change compared to the bustling environment of Bangkok. The most enjoyable aspect of working here is building a team, creating a kitchen culture, and doing things the right way.

How would you describe the culinary scene at Centara Samui?

A chef's true challenge lies not in personal preference, but in exceeding guests' expectations. We understand the importance of variety, especially for extended stays. Our five distinct on-site restaurants, each with its unique style and menu, offer a delightful culinary journey without guests ever leaving the hotel. We strive to provide a complete dining experience that caters to diverse tastes and ensures a truly memorable stay for all.

What sets the dining experience at Centara Reserve Samui apart from other places you’ve worked?

At Centara Reserve, the variety of restaurants is like having a whole orchestra at your disposal. Each outlet offers a distinct style, allowing us to explore different culinary landscapes. From the meticulous presentation of Michelin-inspired dishes to the smoky charm of the traditional grill, there's a chance to truly delve into each cuisine. Guests can experience the vibrancy of Thai cooking, the joy of fresh seafood by the beach, or even craft a personalised menu tailored to their preferences. It's a chef's dream to have such a diverse canvas to work with, surpassing anything I've encountered in my career.

Who or what continues to inspire you in your culinary journey?

I find my curiosity and thirst for knowledge to be my main sources of inspiration. Every day in the kitchen, I have the opportunity to learn something new from my team, and I still feel that excitement of working in a fast-paced environment. The most fulfilling aspect of my continuous quest for improvement is receiving positive feedback when guests enjoy their meals, find inspiration in the menus, and are encouraged to try something different.

Visit Chef Christian Hinckley here