Thomas Frisetti – a culinary journey rich in experience
Since his grandparents had a restaurant, Thomas Frisetti already knew as a small boy, that he wanted to become a chef, and he did! Chef Thomas gained experience in star gastronomy, as a private chef in Dubai! He loves to mix the techniques he has learned with French basics, using ingredients and spices from around the world.
Thomas Frisetti – Chef’s Portrait
Chef Thomas, as a chef you have worked in upscale restaurants, hotels and as a private chef. Where did your cooking career start? Why did you become a chef?
I wanted to become a chef from a young age. My grandparents had a restaurant in Nice and I spent days and nights watching and helping my grandmother who was a chef in this restaurant.
Which cooking school did you attend?
I attended the hospitality academy Lycée Hotelier Paul Augier which was at that time one of three best hospitality schools in France. I spent 5 years at the school where I graduated as BTS with Culinary Art option.
How do you keep up your enthusiasm and passion for food after so many years as a chef?
It’s very easy for me to keep that going, as being in the kitchen, cooking and training my staff is a huge part of that. Also, I don’t think I could do any other job. When I see a product, I look at it and start to think how I could make it outstanding and delicious.
After 12 hours of work, I went home and learned these recipes to make them the best possible the next day. – Thomas Frisetti about working with Chef Christian Plumail
What does French cuisine mean to you?
For me, French cuisine is the basics. For me, it means to take a high-quality product, give it respect and cook it in the simplest way possible to retain the essential taste of the product.
You started your international cooking career as Commis de Cuisine in the restaurant L’Univers – Michelin starred restaurant – in Nice (France), where you worked with Chef Christian Plumail. What did you learn most during this time? How has Christian Plumail influenced your work?
Working with Chef Christian Plumail was an amazing experience. It taught me a lot about the attitude, the philosophy and the respect you must have in any kitchen regarding your colleagues or the products you are working with. I remember everyday Chef Plumail was opening a classic French cuisine book and was choosing one recipe. The day after, I had to prepare it for staff food. He was always behind me to correct me or give me an advice. So every day after my 12 hours work I went home and learned these recipes to make them the next day the best I could.
After some time as a chef in the USA and two stations in Nice; you worked as Sous Chef de Cuisine in the restaurant Song Qi. How did this time in Chinese cuisine affect your kitchen?
I loved this experience because I love Asian cuisine. I love the spices; the way of preparation and it is part of my cuisine now. I love to use all Asian ingredients and techniques with a French touch.
Part of my passion for Asian food is also attributed to another mentor chef: Michael Morel. He used to do his class in Georges Blanc restaurant and spent most of his career in Michelin-starred restaurants, working in Japan as well. He taught me a lot and I owe a part of my current kitchen style to him.
You have also gained experience as a private yacht chef, which sounds great. But what can one learn working as a private yacht chef?
Working as a private chef was an amazing experience. As a chef you can learn a lot in this kind of environment. First you have a very small kitchen to work in plus you have to ensure that you meet all the expectations of the owners and guests in very short time period. So this experience will teach you a lot of organisation, efficiency and creativity. Every day you go to the markets and you choose the freshest products and then you can create new dishes.
How would you describe your own culinary line today?
My culinary line is international because I love using spices and products from all over the world but with a preference towards Asian and French cuisine.
The food scene in Dubai is international and has also proven to be very competitive. What is the secret of being competitive and staying competitive?
I believe that the secret is consistency. The guest needs to find the same quality every time he returns to the restaurant. You also need to have a very good team working together in the front of the house as well as the back of the house. This seems to work for me all over the world not just in Dubai.
What new developments do you see in Dubai’s food scene?
I believe the market in Dubai is saturated and now what will work are more casual restaurants with good quality food. The guests are very educated food wise and they want good quality product, kitchen and service without paying a fortune. So brasserie style restaurants for me will be the winner now.
Over the years, as a chef, you have gained work experience in various restaurants and knowledge in various cuisines. Is fusion cooking something you practice?
Yes, definitely. I always like to use French cuisine as a base but love to use all the techniques and new ingredients from all over the world.
You are known for putting your own stamp on traditional dishes, creating new flavor combinations and experimenting with new ingredients. Do you have specific examples for us?
Yes. I love to make Foie Gras au Torchon served with onion compote and a Coca Cola-grenadine syrup. I also love to do Duck breast with honey, thyme, caramel, Xerex vinegar and red porto.
How do you manage not to compromise the quality of the products and dishes you prepare?
I always like to respect the product I work with. Cook it in simple way to keep the flavour, adding different ingredients later but not to cover the taste of the product.
Can you share some of your latest creations/recipes with us?
Quinoa and avocado salad with pomegranate, lime, coriander topped with roasted King Crab and served with mango-maple syrup dressing. Another one is classic carbonara pasta with homemade smoked dried Wagyu Ribeye beef.
What are some of the lesser-known spices/ingredients you use?
I love to use kalamansi and also love to use pisang which is green banana liqueur.
Is there a place in the world you would like to work as a chef one day?
I would love to work in Asia to learn more about their culinary techniques and philosophy of work.
Thank you for your time, Chef Thomas!
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