Yann Meinsel – Executive Chef at the world’s tallest restaurant – At.mosphere in Dubai, UAE
Yann Meinsel can enjoy a breathtaking view every day. Since June 2018 he has been working as Executive Chef at restaurant At.mosphere in Dubai, UAE – known as the world’s highest restaurant on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa.
We are having a chat with him about his beginnings, his experiences and why there is probably no recipe about how to be a great Chef.
Yann Meinsel – Chef’s Portrait
Chef Yann, since June 2018 you have worked as Executive Chef at the restaurant At.mosphere in Dubai, UAE. Where did your culinary journey start? When did you know you want to become a Chef?
I always worked closely with my parents in the restaurant environment, my passion for cooking for lots of people came when my parents threw me a huge dinner party for my tenth birthday, and at that moment I set my goal to be a Chef
When I graduated in 1994, I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen of the restaurant Lucas Carton (Alain Senderens) 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. In 1999 I joined the kitchens of 59 avenue Raymond Poincaré then that of the Plaza Athénée alongside Alain Ducasse.
In January 2004, I continued my experience at the Hotel Crillon alongside Chef Jean-François Piège where I officiated as his right arm. In 2013, I left France for Shanghai as executive chef of Franck Bistrot (ranked among the top 50 restaurants in Asia) for two years. In March 2015, I moved to Marrakech in the last flagship of Beachcomber hotels “Royal Palm Marrakech” as executive chef where I brought a new and gastronomic cuisine.
With more than twenty years of experience in prestigious institutions in France, China and Morocco, I had the opportunity to join the team of the highest restaurant in the world “At.mosphere” as a Executive Chef where I have been leading this team for the past 4 months.
At.mosphere is located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building. In addition to the breathtaking views – why is it worth a visit? How is the culinary set up?
The kitchen is high above the clouds, it allows us to dream to grow even more. There is no real difficulty, our challenge at this height is that the food is as enjoyable as the view.
But you also know how to cook on the ground. Before your current position you were a Chef in Paris, France, in Shanghai City, China or Marrakech, Morocco. How are the cuisines different? What do they have in common?
My way of cooking varies according to the country where I am, in each country I adapt my cooking. For example, in China people eat mainly pork and a lot of broth, in Morocco poultry and lamb are put forward, I try to keep my identity using the local and seasonal products to the maximum.
Now in Dubai it’s different because all the products we use are imported, you just have to pay attention and follow a guideline. For my part, I adapt my cuisine to the seasons of France while being careful because here it is never cold.
You have experienced a lot on your culinary journey. Which experience was the most useful one to you? Has there been an experience in your career as a Chef that was life changing?
Each of my experiences has been useful, with each change, your life as a Chef is enriched by the culture, the way of life, the way of food, the products that one can find.
Now, in retrospect, my first experience was the most memorable, and it was the one that also gave me the desire to cook at the “Lucas Carton” place of the Madeleine in Paris with Chef Senderens and which really marked the starting point of my professional life after Culinary/Hotel school.
What are the top 3 characteristics that a cook should have in order to be part of your team? What do you appreciate most?
There are no particular characteristics, I like to be surrounded by people who are as passionate as me. In China my Chinese sous-chef did not know Chef Paul Bocuse but he was willing to learn and he liked this job, in Morocco I had young people who spoke barely spoke French, but they were so motivated that our communication was done easily. Now in Dubai, I hope to find cooks with the same values as mine, and I do not think I’m wrong in saying that I’m already well surrounded.
There is no recipe to be a chef, I think we must be ourselves and especially do what we like.
Could you share with us some of your latest creations/dishes?
My creations are based on seasons, and available products. I recently set up the white truffle menu and in January we will move on to black truffle.
What are the upcoming trends of the culinary scene in Dubai?
It’s only been a few months since I have been here, Dubai is a city I can get to know in such a short time, but one thing is certain, it’s a city that is growing very fast.
Working as a Chef in Dubai is certainly a culinary adventure. Are there any more adventures on your list that you want to do in the future? What are your goals for the future?
It’s an amazing experience here and as I was told on arrival “Welcome, to where everything is possible”.
My main goal, here at the restaurant At.mosphere is to always give pleasure through a lunch, a dinner, let the guests forget the worries of everyday life, and enjoy a place, a moment.
Thank you so much for your insights, Chef Yann!