Night and Day at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay
BY ANAAM IKRAM
Having opened its doors to the public on 18 March 2015, the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has successfully launched itself in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Standing tall on its own man-made island, the hotel holds a luxurious spa – the biggest in the Four Season’s Hotel chain – as well as gardens, pools, and a lavish landscape, further enhancing Bahrain’s lush scenery. Providing the ultimate luxury dining experience, the Four Seasons is host to three food outlets by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck: CUT and CUT Lounge, Blue Moon Lounge, and re/Asian Cuisine led by the finest of executive chefs. In addition to that, the hotel also has four more dining options, catering to the needs of all taste palettes, including the poolside Italian restaurant Vento, Bahrain Bay Kitchen and the exclusive Azure Lounge under the supervision of the very capable Hotel Executive Chef Stefano Andreoli.
Inaugurated on 1 March 2015, the Four Season Hotel’s official launch ceremony on 18 March included a culinary tour for the attendees who were escorted to all of Chef Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants where they indulged in food created by the master himself. The guests were also guided to the Bahrain Bay Kitchen, located in the lower lobby, where they were treated to a variety of different cuisines including seafood, Asian, Indian, Arabic as well as a delectable selection of desserts. The tour also included a stop at the Bay-View Lounge, which offered sweet and savoury finger food as guests were given the chance to enjoy the ambiance created through live piano music indoors, or have a seat at the outdoor terrace which allows an impressive view of the Manama Skyline and overlooks the bay.
The following morning, March 19, the award-winning chef held a special Press breakfast during which he spoke about his work and experience in Bahrain thus far and the driving force behind his success all these years.
We were fortunate enough to speak personally to the very talented yet humble Michelin starred chef.
The Food Maestro
Wolfgang Puck spoke to Perle Magazine, describing his experience in Bahrain as exciting and welcoming. He even gave a brief background about how his passion for cooking came about, the hands-on approach he has to his work, and future plans for his brand name.
The Austrian-born American chef, who was inspired by his mother (also a chef), left school at the age of 14, choosing to assist the pastry chef at the hotel his mother worked at. That is, he said, when he first realised how attracted he was towards the food industry. Growing up in the countryside, in Austria, his modest upbringing exposed him to food from an early age as he often did things like go down to the farmer’s to pick up the milk and take the cream off the top.
Sticking true to his roots, Chef Puck said he still hand picks the ingredients for his recipes. As a child, he said, he would go out to the garden and pick out the vegetables required for the soups to be made for dinner. In winter the soup recipes changed to include rice and noodles – as he grew up near the border of Italy which resulted in the food in his household having a Northern Italian influence. The most important thing, the chef said, is to ensure that the ingredients are really good. He still goes to the Farmer’s Market and the Fish Market and even to the hydroponic farms himself to get the best ingredients. “You’re not going to a call a store and ask them to send over a dress, you want to touch it, you want to try it on, for me, its the same with food. I want to see it, I want to touch it. It really is an important part,” he said. For his numerous restaurants, he says, the meat is picked and then shipped to different places, whereas fish and shellfish is obtained locally, “its good to use local things to get the local community involved.”
After all these years of cooking, the chef said his passion and love for food has not faltered one bit and even today he opts to cook food for his family between work shifts. “Food is my passion and I am very lucky to still be interested and we do so many different things, like so many restaurants, so it’s hard to get bored then,”he said. Recently opening up a concept restaurant in Los Angeles, the chef described how his drive to always provide good food through innovation and creativity led to the restaurant Experiment being created. The restaurant has only 10 seats and the only way to make a reservation is by booking the whole 10-seat counter.
The Chef’s extensive list of accolades include:
1993 – Spago Hollywood included into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame
1994 – Spago Hollywood received the James Bears Restaurant of the Year Award
2002 – Chef Wolfgang Puck received the 2001-2002 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show, Wolfgang Puck
2005 – Spago Beverly Hills received a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Service Award
2007 – CUT Beverly Hills awarded a Michelin Star
2008/2009 – Spago Beverly Hills awarded two Michelin Stars in the Los Angeles Michelin Guide
2013 – Chef Wolfgang Puck inducted into the Hall of Fame
There is a menu, but it is for the chefs to know what to cook and the guests don’t know what they are going to get. Since that is only done 2-3 times a week, the rest of the time, Chef Puck said, is spent working on creating and perfecting new recipes. Opening for the first time in Bahrain, he said that restaurants such as his will help elevate the culinary and hospitality experience in Bahrain.
Chef Puck said the one place he really wants to visit is India since he has never been there. To discover the diversified cuisines present, he would like to travel all over the country.
The vast empire that is Wolfgang Puck Companies – which comprises of Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. and Wolfgang Puck Catering, encompassing 20 fine dining restaurants, Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. premium catering services, more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express operations, and kitchen and food merchandise, including cookbooks and canned foods – has not been created by serving plate after plate of just good food, but by offering an entire experience that has resulted in millions of loyal customers. It is about making people feel welcomed, Chef Puck says, and to make people happy because no one would return to a restaurant where the food was good but the staff and service was not. “I have to have that, I have to set the tone”, Chef Puck said on the importance of making customers feel satisfied through the environment and ambiance created within the restaurant, “I used to be very tough when I was younger, people had to eat my way or the highway!”. But as he got older, he said, he had to change himself a little and make sure people were happy and came back. With the rise of social media, it has made it very easy for everyone to be a critic, therefore if on a crowded table there is even one person who has a bad experience, it can be easily known worldwide, “I mean everybody is a critic.” Now, he said, people come to him all of the time and they even cook at people’s houses if required. Chef Wolfgang Puck said that for him it was always about wanting the people to return, from the very first time he opened up his first restaurant Spago 33 years ago, he knew he wanted to build a loyal customer base and managed to achieve that through his years of hard work, dedication and passion.
The future for the esteemed chef means further expansion such as the opening of Spago at the St. Regis in Istanbul, Turkey. Though the restaurant there has been opened, the official opening did not take place until later on in March. The chef has no signs of slowing down anytime soon, the release of his latest book, Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy published March 2014, not only has a variety of recipes for starters, salads, mains and desserts but also offers a healthy twist on them. A number of exercises are also included to ensure a better, more active and overall healthier lifestyle.
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