Giuseppe Mosti – Executive Chef of the Sofitel in Algier
Giuseppe Mosti is the Executive Chef of the Sofitel in Algier. He takes us on an exciting journey through this fabulous country. Read here.
You are a passionate, energetic and enthusiastic chef, with more than 30 years of experience in different international kitchens.
You currently work as Executive Chef of the Sofitel in Algiers. Tell us about how you got started as a chef. Why did you decide on cooking professionally?
I’m Tuscan, I think we have cooking skills in our DNA. Since I was a child I have been always going around in the kitchen spending a lot of time with my granny, she was a great cook, but also my mother plays well at the stove and in general there is no Tuscan family without ladies or gentlemen unable to perform unforgettable meals.
Which culinary school did you attend?
I attended the hospitality institute “Giuseppe Minuto” in Marina di Massa, a few km away from my place. At that time it was one of the best schools in Italy and probably in Europe and the ideal platform to jump into the hospitality field.
What surprised you most once you started out as a chef?
At the school, we spent the first two weeks meeting our new professors, all of them were mentioning a lot about how much hard work is needed in the kitchen and how it was easy to move to other sections like service of front of house. I had a feeling like they were rejecting me and my mates, simply pushing us to the exit. Unfortunately they were right, in my class we started with 27, we are arrived to the end with 7 and today only 3 of us are still at the fire, the others classes, more or less, same destiny.
What is really surprising me, is the fact that I went through many difficulties and not many enjoyable things in the beginning; everything was going as the professors said, but I realized that I was just testing myself as a teenager, I learned the lessons and now, as an adult, I’m still testing myself, I still love cooking and I still love the no limits possibilities I have every single day.
What is the best part of being a chef?
Expressing yourself and your creativity, learning how to be independent since you are a teenager, traveling the world, meeting different peoples and cultures, enjoying amazing food (and get amazing food poisoning…), feeling free to use your sarcasm as much as you want and definitely being cool and sexy!
Early in your international chef career you started to work in different countries, such as Hungary, India, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia. What is your motivation to work abroad?
For many years the hospitality field is running faster and further than expected, so I found myself like wearing shoes with wrong size and not able to run fast enough to keep the pace of what was going on around me.
I decided to look beyond the horizon and I found something very appealing and intriguing.
For a curious person, it’s like the chant of the mermaids and I have enjoyed ten destinations up till today.
Obviously it doesn’t mean that I cut off my roots; I go back to Italy as much as I can, because when your body and soul hit their limits there is just one cure: take a car and get lost on any amazing road of the Chiantishire in Tuscany.
After so many years abroad, how would you describe your own culinary style today?
Naturally,I have been influenced from my several experiences, it is part of the game, so, for example, I see traditional dishes with an open mind, I utilize my knowledge to boost them and make them better, or I go for newer dishes matching flavours and techniques, but always avoiding excesses.
As Executive Chef of the Sofitel in Algiers today, what is the culinary direction/ set up there?
At the Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden we have mostly foreign guests so we have to keep up with all the international standards and trends, it means that the workload for all of the kitchen team is really heavy, but there are no excuses to not reach the targets, we have the means to do whatever is necessary for our discerning guests, and to do so we have the total support of our General Manager.
What is most important in your life?
My family, I live for them, I work for them and I would die for them.
Your work experience as chef reaches from classic to “cutting edge”, from business to resort operations, from remote destinations to extremely difficult working environments. Can you share examples of one of your extremely difficult working environments?
I went through the Arab Spring when I was in Cairo, I was working at the Hotel Concorde el Salam, and it had been attacked several times. Many of the staff fought to preserve their source of income and many were injured. We continued to deliver our services for the guests in house to our best, we were vigilant on the property and my little daughters learned how to do Molotov bombs with the gasoline from the boilers.
Then the situation came to a point of no return and all the guests had to be evacuated, the HR Director, almost in tears and really ashamed, told me that they were not in a position to assure safety for me and my family, so we left.
After less than one month I was back on duty, and for the following 15 months, I faced every kind of problem, almost kidnapped, walking with a butcher knife in my sleeve, etc., but still I consider my experience in Cairo one of the most interesting of my entire career.
You are continuously looking for new challenges in the international culinary scene. What is one of your current challenges?
It’s very much like being a pioneer in the hospitality industry and sometimes the law of the jungle is the best solution to fix situations. As I like to say, this is not a destination for “signorine”.
And the future ones?
I’m open to any future challenge, or may be, with my character, I should say, I require any future challenge.
Looking back at your career as a chef so far, do you see any regrets, and would you do anything different?
Surely I made some wrong choices in the past, but I’m also sure I wouldn’t be “me-here-now”.
This could be something to regret.
What do people often misunderstand about the job of a chef?
There is a big contamination in progress, so most of the people are thinking that a chef’s job is like what is shown in many TV shows. Nothing is more unrealistic.
Sometimes I have invited people to spend a day with me and, after a regular 12/14 hours shift, their question in the end has been always the same: “How can you do it?”.
They saw how I manage at the same time stress, staff, deliver the job precise and on time, being sure about the taste and quality, suppliers, long hours at work, few ours with the family and, most of the times, dealing with idiots pretending to know the chef’s job…
They understood, they saw my positive attitude, they really understood, that’s why we ended at the pub drinking beer!
Any place in the world you would like to work as chef one day?
I have several destinations on my agenda, I hope to hit each of them even if I’m a bit seasoned, but many times we can find surprising things in places we never dreamed about.
If you would have the time to write a cookbook, what would it be about?
Well, I’m proud to say that I did it already and it has been a beautiful experience.
I was working at Ocean Bar & Grill, a seafood restaurant in the heart of Budapest and we decided to go for a kind of upgraded brochure to promote the restaurant.
For some crazy reasons the project ended in a true masterpiece with sixty bestseller dishes from our repertoire. The book also took part to the competition, “Beautiful Hungarian Books”, and there, we got the biggest surprise when the “baby” won the first prize in the category “knowledge”, the most important out of four.
This for me has been really a blast, not for the success itself, but for matching a cookbook with the culture and not with something fancy to try at home in the weekend or to forget on a bookshelf.
I have to say I’m working on another one, but this time it will be about memories in the field and it will be very funny for someone and a nightmare for others. 😀
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